Filipino Lito Dante Scores TKO Upset of Year in Japan
By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
Filipino minimumweight fighter Lito Dante, who has won twice and drawn once in three trips to foreign soil in Japan, has had good fortune with Japanese boxing promoters who tried to bring him in as an opponent, but who successfully boxed to complete contrary.
In the main event of a seven bout Reason Daiki Promotions card, dangerous Filipino 16-10-4 veteran Lito ‘Nurulo’ Dante, of Valenzuela, Philippines, fighting in enemy territory at Osanbashi Hall in Yokohama, Japan, scored a shocking TKO upset at 1:18 of the twelfth and final round to take the OPBF Minimumweight title from the champion, 14-0 Tsubasa Koura in his hometown. Koura was ranked number three in the world by the World Boxing Council at the time he was dethroned.
Dante, who rose to number 12 in the worldwide BoxRec minimumweight internet rankings, has never actually been knocked out or stopped in 30 professional contests. All ten of his losses were either decisions or technical decisions due to accidental head butts. Dante has held the World Boxing Council International Mininumweight title. In 2017, Dante fought 12 rounds for the International Boxing Organization World Minimumweight title, and also lost ten round decisions twice to the current World Boxing Organization Minimumweight champion, fellow Filipino Vic Saludar, raising the possibility of a third matchup for the WBO world title. Dante also lost previously in a world title bout to undefeated Kosei Tanaka, Then the World Boxing Organization World Minimumweight champion, later the WBO World Light Flyweight champion, and currently the WBO World Flyweight champion and considered the best fighter in the world in the flyweight division.
Dante’s record is extraordinarily deceiving. A former Filipino Minimumweight champion with six regional and world title bouts of experience, three of Dante’s first six professional bouts were draws, and his record speaks of a fighter who is hot and cold, depending on the moment, including a decision win over Powell Balaba, a fighter who stopped Vic Saludar.
Coming forward with pressure from the opening bell, Dante’s game plan was to force inside exchanges and turn the bout into a battle royale, forcing Koura to fight with no avenue of escape. Koura had good movement and jab speed and tried to counter, but Dante was landing big shots. Koura began to gradually tire, get hurt, and wear down, getting hit with nonstop and consistent combinations. Dante knew, despite seemingly leading on the scorecards, there was a high possibility he would not get the decision on the scorecards.
Dante did not leave the bout to the judges. Landing nonstop head punches culminating with a straight right to the jaw on a finally broken down and defenseless Koura in his own corner, referee Tetsuya Lida called a stop to the action to save Koura at 1:18 of the twelfth and final round, putting Dante in position to fight this summer or fall of 2019 against the winner of the rematch between World Boxing Council World Minimumweight champion Chayaphon Moonsri of Thailand and Japanese challenger Tatsuya Fukuhara in Chonburi, Thailand, scheduled for April 25, 2019.
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