The bout will likely be officially announced in January, if it is signed and sealed as suspected, and would be one Watanabe's first major shows of the new year with the potential for the card to also feature the Japanese Bantamweight bout between Yuta Saito (11-9-3, 8) [齊藤裕太] and Hayato Kimura (28-10, 19) [木村隼人].
For Saludar the bout will serve as his first defense of the title, the title he won in July when he out pointed Ryuya Yamanaka, whilst Taniguchi will be getting his first world title fight, having previously fought for the Japanese, OPBF and WBO Asia Pacific title, winning only the WBO regional belt.
Earlier today in Thailand fight fans were able to see talented Japanese fighter Masataka Taniguchi (11-2, 7) [谷口 将隆] battle against Filipino foe Joel Lino (10-1-1, 3) for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title.
The talented Taniguchi, who had previously come up short in a Japanese title fight against Reiya Konishi and an OPBF title fight against Tsubasa Koura, easily came out on top today, finally winning his first title
The Japanese boxer-puncher out punched and out fought the previously unbeaten Lino over 12 round to take the decision with scores of 119-109, twice, and 116-112.
The win will see Taniguchi rewarded not just with the regional title but also a WBO world ranking, opening the door to a potential WBO world title fight against Vic Saludar (18-3, 10), though it does seem like he may need to wait a while to get a shot at a world title.
Lino, who was stepping up massively for this fight, suffered his first defeat but will have learned a lot here in what was a massive step up in class, and we suspect he'll bounce back better next year, even if his "0" has gone.
(Image courtesy of @HirotoK1127)
Tomorrow fight fans in Bangkok will be able to see Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7) [谷口 将隆]face off with unbeaten Filipino Joel Lino (10-0-1, 3) for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title.
Today the two men took part in their weigh in for the contest, and both fighters made weight with no issues.
Taniguchi, fighting in his title bout, came in at 104.7lbs, whilst Lino came in well under the limit at 103.4lbs.
The winner of this bout will be expected to get a lofty WBO world ranking. It's been rumoured that Taniguchi's team have been looking for their man to fight WBO world champion Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) and a win here would certainly help him get the ranking needed for a bout with the Filipino world champion. For Lino the bout is a huge step up in class, but a win will put him on map, at least divisionally.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Over the last week or saw we've seen a rumour of Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) defending the WBO Minimumweight title against Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7) [谷口 将隆] on New Year's Eve in Macau. It now seems like there's another twist in that story, with Japanese sources now reporting that Taniguchi will actually be fighting on November in 13th in Thailand. Not only that but he will be up against an unbeaten man in a bout for the WBO Asia Pacific Minimumweight title, almost certainly ruling him out of a December world title fight.
The Watanabe gym fight will be battling against 23 year old Filipino Joel Lino (10-0-1, 3) in Bangkok, on the same card as the previous reported ABF Featherweight title bout between Daisuke Sugita (4-0, 3) [杉田大祐] and Worawatchai Boonjan (12-17-1, 11).
Coming in to the bout Lino will have a #5 ranking whilst Taniguchi will be ranked #6 by the WBO Asia Pacific, whilst the title is currently vacant.
Whilst this is expected to end speculation on a possibly Taniguchi world title bout in December it should be noted that if he can win, and win quickly, he would find himself in the world rankings and it would opening up the Saludar fight for him. It would however be a very quick turn around to prepare for Saludar on a few weeks later. Likewise a win for Lino would push him up the world rankings towards a possible world title shot of his own.
Earlier today TBS updated their website with an announcement confirming that they would, as widely assumed, be showing the yet to be officially announced WBO Super Flyweight world title fight between Kazuto Ioka (23-1, 13) [井岡一翔] and Donnie Nietes (41-1-5, 23).
TBS confirmed they would be showing a special Ninja Warrior style event from 6PM to 11:55PM with the bout between Ioka and Neites fitting into that broadcast, likely a sign they are either changing their usual year ending television event in some form from their usual year ending broadcast.
Although the bout is yet to be announced sources are hinting it will be towards the end of the broadcast.
It's worth noting that this special from TBS will be up against the recently announced RIZIN 14 event, headlined by Japanese sensation Tenshin Nasukawa [那須川天心] facing boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27). Given the high profile of that bout TBS may try to avoid putting Ioka head to head with the RIZIN main event.
At the moment no other bouts have been confirmed for this TBS card but there are rumours that it could be one of the most stacked cards of the year with speculation that Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) will defend the WBO Minimumweight title against Masataka Taniguchi (10-2, 7) [谷口 将隆], Hiroto Kyoguchi (11-0, 8) [京口 紘人] will fight for a Light Flyweight title, against either Angel Acosta (19-1, 19) or Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), and that Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] may clash with Shin Ono (23-9-3, 6) [小野 心].
A full announcement is expected in the coming days of the show, and what TBS will be showing live and what will be on delay.
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