By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Vic Saludar of the Philippines is preparing for the first defense of his WBO world minimumweight title on February 26 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. He will face the number two ranked contender Masataka Taniguchi.
The 25 year old Taniguchi (11W-2L,7KO’s) moved up the ranks when he won the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title in the 105 lb division by unanimous decision against Filipino Joel Lino in Bangkok, Thailand last November. Taniguchi has seen action twice in the Philippines. In 2016, he knocked out Joey Bactul in two rounds in a fight held in Maasim, Sarangani. Then a year later, he stopped Benjie Bartolome in one round in Makati City. Other Filipinos on his win column are Dexter Alimento, Vincent Bautista and Reymark Taday.
The 28 year old Saludar (18W-3L,10KO’s) will be making his second straight trip to Japan. He took the title in Kobe last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka by unanimous decision. Saludar decked Yamanaka in round seven with a hard right hand that turned the tide of what started as a close fight. Two of the three judges actually scored it even after round six.
Saludar also sensed it was close. “It was only after I knocked him down in round seven that I thought I could win.” Saludar told this writer in an interview one month after the fight, “Still it was a tough fight all the way.”
“He kept targeting my body,” Saludar added,” I knew that was their plan, but I was ready.”
In his first trip to Japan, Saludar lost in his first world title attempt on New Year’s Eve 2015, when then champion Kosei Tanaka stopped him with a body shot in round six.
Saludar is once again readying himself for another battle on the road.
“For the past weeks, Vic has been sparring with Dave Apolinario and Jaysever Abcede. Next week, Joey Canoy will be added as sparring partner.” Saludar’s Promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer.
Apolinario is an unbeaten flyweight prospect with a 9-0,6KO’s record while Abcede (18-8,12KO’s) captured the WBA Asia flyweight title last year by knocking out in two rounds Thai Yutthana Kaensa in Bangkok.
Canoy (14-3-1,7KO’s) had to settle for a no contest in an IBO world title fight in South Africa last December when defending champion Simpiwe Konkco suffered a cut due to a clash of heads and the fight was stopped in round four.
“He is doing well in training,” Rontal added, “He will be prepared with whatever Taniguchi will bring. He will just have to stick to the game plan.”
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