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Ryoichi Taguchi Vs Randy Petalcorin
On paper the most logical match up sees WBA “regular” champion Ryoichi Taguchi (23-2-1, 10) defending his belt against interim champion Randy Petalcorin (23-1-1, 18). The bout is a really straight forward to make one with the two men having a real reason to fight and in theory both would have a lot to gain from a win and both would likely view the bout as one they should be really considering for the coming year, making it probably the most likely to happen, especially given that neither man can afford another year without facing a major opponent, which both men had last yesar unfortunately.
Not only is this one a good on one in regards to clearing up the WBA title picture but it's also one that should be great in the ring. Taguchi is a criminally under-rated boxer, with a very solid skill set, genuine toughness and developing confidence whilst Petalcorin is a powerful, fast and accurate fighter who needs to prove that he really is world class. The styles should be fun to see together and the chance to score a statement win should bring the best from both, making this a real humdinger.
Donnie Nietes Vs Rey Loreto
Whilst the Taguchi/Petalcorion fight makes a lot of sense for both men sometimes fights don't need to make “sense” for us to to want them. One such example is an all-Filipino bout between WBO kingpin Donnie Nietes (37-1-4, 21) and hard hitting countryman Rey Loreto (20-13, 12). On paper this is a major mismatch, however as we all know Loreto is the division's dangerman and is criminally under-rated.
Nietes is the longest reigning active champion in the division however the 33 year old has had a long and draining career and has shown some chinks during his 4 year reign. Loreto on the other hand is just coming into his prime, at 25, and has really improved since a less than stellar 0-4 start to his professional career. With wins over Wisanu Kokietgym, Pornsawan Porpramook and Nkosinathi Joyi Loreto is dangerous and could well upset Nietes in what would be a brilliant boxer Vs puncher match up.
Sadly however it seems unlikely we'll get this one given that Nietes has been ordered to face Moises Fuentes and then seems likely to move to the Flyweight division.
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Akira Yaegashi Vs Ryo Miyazaki
The best fights are the ones where styles gel, and one such bout has been mooted for several years and appears to have taken a huge step towards reality in recent weeks. That bout would put the newly crowned IBF champion Akira Yaegashi (23-5, 12) against fellow action fighter Ryo Miyazaki (24-1-3, 15). Whilst there are “better” bouts in the sport, such as Naoya Inoue Vs Roman Gonzalez, we don't think any other bout has “sure fire excitement” written over it as much as this one.
Yaegashi looked sensational winning the IBF crown late last year, with a win over Javier Mendoza, but still can't refrain himself from brawling whilst Miyazaki is, at heart, a brawler. Given that both men like a fight, both have lapses defensively and both like to let their hands go we really can't see any outcome other than a win for the fans, if this one is made. Interestingly it is being spoken about as potential match up for March and Miyazaki has publicly called out his fellow Japanese warrior. Fingers crossed!
Jonathan Taconing Vs Felix Alvarado
Over the last few year's we've been hoping to see Jonathan Taconing (22-2-1, 18) get a world title fight, sadly however he has been avoided like the plague. It'd be nice to see him finally getting a shot at a champion but if that doesn't happen we'd love to see him face Nicaraguan warrior Felix Alvarado (22-2, 19). The two men should again make for a stylistically fun fight and it should be a bit of a fire fight, despite the fact neither has been stopped.
With 37 stoppage wins between them, from 47 bouts, we know power shots would be the order of the day and neither would be thinking about hearing the final bell. We also know that both feel thy been controversially beaten and and we don't see either man fighting for a decision. This really could be something very special to watch and, like the Yaegashi/Miyazaki bout, has “sure fire excitement” written all over it.
Whilst the bout should be great it should also act as a very serious world title eliminator with the winner well deserving of a world title fight later in the year.
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Yu Kimura Vs Ken Shiro
There are a number of other bouts at 108lbs that could be made over the next 12 months though arguably the one that most interests us would see one of our favour fighters Ken Shiro (6-0, 3) step up to face recently crowned WBC champion Yu Kimura (18-2-1, 3). The bout would be one filled with skills and speed and, on paper at least, the easiest root for Ken Shiro to claim a world title, though of course wouldn't be a gimme for the youngster.
The biggest issue with this bout is that Kimura will likely need to fight in a mandatory defense, probably against Taconing, however if he can avoid that, or delay it, then we could be in for a really cracking all-Japanese world title fight between a veteran and a real youngster looking to break through. Really intriguing even if the bout doesn't really scream major “excitement”.
Whilst we have mentioned 5 bouts here, there are of course numerous other bouts, such ones featuring Kosei Tanaka, would also be also be entertaining and the division really does look amazing at the moment and we really are hoping that it can deliver on the promise that it has.