According to the brilliant Philboxing there appears to be some behind the scenes work to arrange a WBO Minimumweight title bout, and a WBO world title eliminator, both for December.
The site reports that WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) is possibly going to make his first defense of the title on December 31st in Macau, as part of the supporting card for the proposed WBO Super Flyweight title bout between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23). The opponent for Saludar would be Japan's Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7) [谷口 将隆], in what would be an explosive, hard hitting and thrilling fight.
The bout would need the WBO's approval, and at the time of writing Taniguchi isn't ranked by the organisation. It is worth noting however that the WBO rankings are set for a shake up with several of their fighters ready to be removed, including Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) and Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) who are ranked #3 and #2 respectively but will fight in December for the vacant IBF title.
The eliminator, which was agreed at the recent WBO convention, will see Filipino Robert Paradero (17-0, 11) taking on Wilfredo Mendez (11-1, 4) in Puerto Rico on December 7th. It's worth noting that Paradero, the WBO Asia Pacific Youth champion is ranked #1 by the WBO whilst Mendez is ranked #7. This looks to be signed and sealed, and will be an excellent match up, with both men getting a real test before a prospective world title fight.
For those wanting to read the Philboxing story that's here.
Due to Kyoguchi leaving the division Barriga was then matched with 23 year old Licona, an American based Mexican fight who the IBF rank as the next highest contender behind Barriga. He's scored his most notable wins over Janiel Rivera and Jose Eduardo Ramirez Armenta, but this will be a huge step up for him against the slippery and awkward Barriga.
As per Ian's tweet the bout will take place on December 1st at the Staples Center as part of the under-card for the WBC Heavyweight title bout between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. It will mean the winner goes into 2019 as one of the leading Minimumweights and will be looking to have big fights in the new year.
Earlier this year we saw Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) put on a masterclass of boxing to dominate Colombian Gabriel Mendoza (29-6-2, 23) and become the IBF's mandatory challenger at Minimumweight. Originally the plan was for Barriga to challenge unbeaten Japanese slugger Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人], though Kyoguchi has since revealed that he will be vacating the title rather than continuing to boil down to make the 105lb limit, with the fighter set to hand the title back to the IBF in the coming weeks.
As a result of Kyoguchi moving up in weight Barriga will fight for the vacant title against the highest ranked IBF contender.
At the moment there is no fighter ranked #2 by the IBF meaning that the Filipino will likely face the #3 ranked Carlos Licona (13-0, 2) or, if that fails, a bout with OPBF Minimumweight champion Tsubasa Koura (13-0, 9) [小浦 翼], who is ranked #4 by the IBF would be possible.
Barriga, who has been compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr for his ring craft, counter punching and boxing skills, is one of the most skilled fighters in the sport right now and has made it clear that he is chasing a world title shot as soon as possible. With Licona having been out of the ring since June it's unlikely the bout will be made before September, at the earliest, but it should be a straight forward to make bout with Barriga being backed by a good TV deal in the Philippines and the money from the deal likely being enough to get the Pinoy fighter home advantage against Licona.
This past Sunday fight fans at the Ota City General Gymnasiun had the chance to see IBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] record his second defense as he defeated heavy handed Filipino challenger Vince Paras (13-1 11).
Today Kyoguchi took part in a press conference, talking about the bout as well as his future plans.
The fighter, who appeared to have suffered a bad injury to his right hand, is planning to return to the ring in September to make a mandatory defense of his title against highly skilled Filipino Mark Anthony Barriga. He then hopes to unify Minimumweight titles in December, in what will be scheduled as Watanabe's year ending card. Of course getting past Barriga will be much easier said than done.
Longer term the plan is to move up in weight and chase the opportunity to become a 2-weight world champion. There was questions about potentially facing Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), who dethroned Kyoguchi's stablemate Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一] on Sunday, but there seems to be no immediate plans, and it sounded more like Kyoguchi and the Watanabe team would prefer Taguchi to have a rematch with the South African instead.
(Image courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
Just moments ago fight fans around the world were able to see unbeaten Filipino sensation Mark Anthony Barriga (9-0, 1) put on a masterclass of boxing to dominate hard hitting Colombian Gabriel Mendoza (29-6-2, 23) and become the IBF mandatory challenger at Minimumweight.
From the first round it was clear that Barriga was several levels above the Colombian, who had fought for a world title only a year ago and it never really changed as Barriga controlled round after round with his excellent movement, counter punching. The Colombian struggled to ever connect cleanly and instead he was being tagged by regular counters, jabs and combinations.
The one saving grace for Mendoza was his toughness, and despite being stung a few times he never looked like he was going to be stopped. It was possible that Mendoza's survival had a lot to do with Barriga's relative lack of power, but it scarcely mattered with the Colombian looking gun shy for the most part, knowing that he was going to be tagged as and when he let his own hands go. With Mendoza throwing less as the bout went on Barriga went on the offensive more, and left Mendoza with a swollen right eye.
At the end of the contest there was no doubting the winner, with Barriga taking the decisions thanks to scores of 120-108, twice, and 119-109, with one judge managing to find a sympathy round for Mendoza.
With this win Barriga will likely face either Hiroto Kyoguchi or Vince Paras, who fight later this month in an IBF world title fight.
On the under-card of the show, which was an incredibly long one, fans saw former WBO Super Flyweight champion Marvin Sonsona (21-1-1, 15) out point Arief Blader (23-28-2, 8) in what was a dreary performance from both men, Genesis Servania (31-1, 14) score a stoppage over Jason Butar Butar (27-24-1, 18), with a brutal body shot, a wide US win for AJ Banal (36-2-1, 23), who easily out pointed Master Suro (12-14-1, 2) in what was a dire bout.
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!