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MELINDO FIGHTS TO UNIFY IBF AND WBA LIGHT FLYWEIGHT TITLES IN NEW YEAR'S EVE


PhilBoxing.com




IBF world light flyweight champion Milan “El Metodico” Melindo (37-2-0, 13KOs) and WBA world light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12KOs) will attempt to unify both titles when they clash with each other in a unification bout on New Year's Eve in Japan. The fight could lead Melindo to a step closer to his dream of unfying all the belts in the 108-pound division.

* * *

Having held the WBA strap since 2014 with a unanimous decision win over Peruvian Alberto Rossel, Taguchi has successfully defended his title six times, with 5 wins and a draw against the undefeated Carlos Canizales of Venezuela. These victories were over Thai Kwanthai Sithmorseng by 8th round TKO, Colombian Luis de la Rosa by 9th round TKO, Venezuelan Juan Jose Landaeta by 11th round TKO, fellow Japanese Ryo Miyazaki by UD and Colombian Robert Barrera by 9th round TKO.

* * *

Taguchi has also been undefeated since 2013. He was beaten that year by countryman Naoya Inoue, then WBC light flyweight champion and now WBO junior bantamweight titlist, by unanimous decision. Inoue has been on The Ring top ten pound-for-pound list for 17 weeks now. His other loss was inflicted by fellow Japanese Masayoshi Segawa by UD. He has defeated Filipinos former IBF minimumweight world champion Florante Condes and Ryan Bito both by UD.

* * *

Melindo wrested the IBF title from Taguchi’s countryman Akira Yaegashi last May by a shocking 1st round TKO win in front of a highly surprised hometown fans in Tokyo. Melindo faltered in two previous world title attempts against Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 and Javier Mendoza in 2015. Last September, Melindo won by a split decision against two-division world champion South African Hekkie Budler in his first title defense.

* * *

In a report by Kyodo News, Taguchi was quoted: “I want a resounding win that will make this card an amazing one.” Melindo vigorously prepared for this big match before his team leaves for Japan on Dec. 26. “I am confident with my training after my fight with Budler,” Melindo cited.

* * *

“I am very happy I’ve been given this fight, because this is what I’ve been waiting for. I want to go down in history as the undisputed light flyweight king. Although I know Taguchi will not be an easy opponent, I will do what I can to make sure I put up a good fight so I could win,” assured Melindo. “I still have two more belts to go after,” he added, referring to the WBO title held by Puerto Rican Angel Acosta and the WBC belt currently worn by Japanese Ken Shiro respectively.

* * *

Melindo is in serious sparring sessions with ALA Boxing stablemates to sharpen his techniques. According to head trainer Edito Villamor, the champion from Cagayan de Oro has been swiftly improving after practicing with another ALA world champion Donnie Nietes and the rising star fighters Jonas Sultan and KJ Cataraja. The Melindo-Taguchi IBF and WBA title unification will be fought at the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.

* * *

Anthony Mundine has verbally challenged WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn as the propective encounter between two great Australian boxers continues to heat up. Horn hit first Mundine on Thursday: “Mundine is 42 now and he should have retired after his last fight against Danny Green. He’s past his best and if I can make a huge payday I’d be mad not to fight him before a Crawford bout."

* * *

“He doesn’t have the skill to beat me, I will end his career and his 10 minutes of fame,” Mundine answered through News Corp. “After what I saw against Corcoran, Horn is a B-grade fighter. He looked like a drunken fighter at times, it looked like he was on crack, his feet were everywhere, he was all over the place." He added that he himself is "too strong, too fast, too seasoned." Mundine criticized Horn's awkward style, and like what he did to the most awkward fighter in Australia, Sam Soliman, he warned that he will destroy Horn the same way.

* * *

Horn's deadline set by WBO to face mandatory challenger Terence Crawford is until July, that means that he still has the time to move up a weight class to fight Mundine at light-middleweight before going back to welterweight to clash with Crawford. Bob Arum plans Horn to face Crawford in Las Vegas on April 21,with the winner of that title fight most likely to engage Manny Pacquiao.

* * *

Anthony Mundine is a former rugby league player. He was the WBA supermiddleweight champion twice between 2003 and 2008, and the IBO middleweight king from 2009 to 2010, and the WBA interim superwelterweight titlist from 2011 to 2012. Mundine is trained by his father, Tony Mundine, who was a middleweight contender during the 1970s. Mundine faces Tommy Browne on January 17 next year.

* * *

Billy Joe Saunders played with a frustrated David Lemieux in his hometown in Laval, Quebec, Canada for a convincing victory in a successful WBO middleweight title retention Saturday. Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) won his third defense of the title he won from Andy Lee in 2015 and showed he is also a champion in the middleweight division that is now dominated by superstars Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs), a former IBF middleweight champion, failed in his bid to become the first Canadian since Arturo Gatti to win a second world title.

* * *

Saunders hit Lemieux off balance at the start, connecting those shots seemingly at will. Judge Benoit Roussel of Canada scored it a120-108, Phil Edwards of UK had it 118-110 and Gerardo Martinez of Puerto Rico 117-111, all for Saunders. Only the third and sixth rounds were fought closely until the final two rounds when Saunders just merely danced to keep himself out of Lemieux’s reach.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Maloney L. Samaco.


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