At just 19, and in only his fifth professional contest since entering the paid ranks in November 2013, Tanaka showed intelligence and guile beyond his tender years to become Japan’s latest world title holder in front of his delighted home fans.
After twelve rounds, judges scoring the bout had Tanaka the winner by margins of 117-111 (twice) and 115-113 as the Tajimi-born fighter picked up the WBO belt vacated by fellow countryman Katsunari Takayama earlier this year.
Tanaka’s remarkable feat of winning the world title in such a small amount of fights is still not a patch on the current record holders though as Ukrainian amateur legend Vasyl Lomachenko in 2014 and Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin in 1975 reached the landmark in just three outings.
Lomachenko was primed to claim the record outright when challenging Orlando Salido in March 2014 on the back of his debut win in 2013, although promoter Bob Arum’s plan was thwarted when the southpaw lost a decision. Just three months later, Lomachenko defeated Gary Russell Jr and has since made two successful defences.