Kosei Tanaka vs. Christian Rangel on Feb. 24 In Japan

By James Slater - 02/13/2024 - Comments

Kosei Tanaka Still Aims To Become A Four-Weight Champ; And He Wants Revenge Over Kazuto Ioka

One of the most exciting lower-weight ring warriors, Japan’s Kosei Tanaka still believes he can make good on his goal of becoming a world champion at four weights. Tanaka, who has thrilled us (see his slugfests with Sho Kimura, Ryoichi Taguchi and Jonathan Gonzalez) has won world titles at minimumweight, junior flyweight and flyweight, the 28 year old winning the WBO title at all three weights.

But a failed challenge of countryman Kazuto Ioka on New Year’s Eve back in 2020, a fight where the superb Ioka scored an eighth round TKO win, saw Tanaka come up short. Now, on February 24 in Tokyo, Tanaka will get a second shot at becoming a four-weigh ruler. Tanaka, 19-1(11) will face Mexican warrior Christian Bacasegua Rangel for the vacant WBO super flyweight belt.

26 year old “Rocky” Rangel is currently 22-4-2(9) and he has not lost since 2019 when he dropped a majority decision to Moises Calleros. Since then, Rangel, who has been stopped just once, this by Julio Abel Robles back in March of 2018, has won nine fights on the bounce. But against former three-weight champ Tanaka, Rangel will be taking a significant step up in class. Tanaka has won four fights since losing for the only time in his career and he has adjusted to fighting as a super flyweight.

Tanaka, who spoke with The Japan Times, says he aims to score a KO win on February 24 and then get a return shot at Ioka, who currently holds the WBA super flyweight title and is keen to unify the belts at the weight.

“It would be best if I could get a KO,” Tanaka said of his upcoming fight. “I don’t want to win in an anticlimactic showing. The important thing is to prevent an opponent who comes forward from hitting me. I want to win overwhelmingly and go on to the next stage.”

The next stage could be that return with Ioka, who has expressed interest in facing Tanaka a second time. Seemingly an easy fight to make, an easy unification fight to make should Tanaka defeat Rangel, Ioka Vs. Tanaka II would be a big deal in Japan. Both Ioka and Tanaka may be closing in on the final few fights of their respective careers, Ioka turning 35 in March and Tanaka having had a number of wars and hard fights.

Would it be repeat or revenge if these two Japanese stars fought again? How much has Tanaka got left and can he indeed score a stoppage win over Rangel? Tanaka says it’s important that he doesn’t allow Rangel to hit him. But in almost all of his fights, Tanaka has been hit and he has given us great action. This is why we love watching him so much! Can Tanaka achieve his lofty goal on February 24, and pick up that fourth world title?