Tanaka to collide with Fuentes for vacant WBO 108lb belt on New Year’s Eve

tanaka-fuentes-kickoff Photo by Boxing Beat, Zanfer Promotions –

By Joe Koizumi

Unbeaten ex-WBO 105-pound champ Kosei Tanaka (7-0, 4 KOs), Japan, will face Mexican Moises Fuentes (24-2-1, 13 KOs) in quest of the vacant WBO 108-pound championship recently renounced by excellent Filipino Donnie Nietes at Gifu Memorial Hall, Gifu city, on New Year’s Eve. It was announced by Hatanaka Promotions presided by Kiyoshi Hatanaka, ex-WBC super-bantam champ who dethroned Pedro Decima and yielded his belt to Daniel Zaragoza, both in 1991.

Tanaka, now still 21, had acquired the WBO mini-flyweight belt by defeating Mexican Julian Yedras in his only fifth pro bout in May of the previous year. After successfully keeping his title by a come-from-behind knockout of Filipino Vic Saludar in his initial defense, the fast-growing youngster relinquished his belt to move up to the 108-pound category. In his tune-up go Tanaka impressively halted world-rated Filipino Rene Patillano in a light-fly bout this May. 

Should he gain his second world belt in his eighth pro bout, Tanaka will tie the Japanese record of the quickest acquisition of the second world throne previously registered by the current WBO 115-pound ruler Naoya Inoue at the expense of Argentine great Omar Narvaez in the end of 2014. The world mark was registered by Vasyl Lomachenko who did it in his seventh pro bout this June.

Moises Fuentes, 31, had won the WBO 105-pound belt in 2011 and kept it twice to his credit. In 2013, while being the mini-fly champ, the Mexican had an ambitious crack at the WBO 108-pound belt against Filipino champ Donnie Nietes only to draw in a grueling bout in 2013. Fuentes fought a rematch with Fuentes, pitifully losing by a ninth round TKO. The Mexican, however, recently scored five victories including ones over such ex-champs as Oswaldo Novoa and Francisco Rodriguez Jr. to his credit.

Despite Fuentes being a prefight favorite due to his superior ring experience, Tanaka has his youth and physical power that have contributed to his quick advancement. It will be an interesting and competitive confrontation.