By Rene Bonsubre
Filipino Vic Saludar came up with another victory on the road and retained his WBO world minimumweight title by unanimous decision against Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Saludar was tentative in the opening canto, with two of the three judges giving the round to Taniguchi. Saludar pulled away in rounds two to six, using his long jab and lateral movement, effectively sidestepping whenever the southpaw Taniguchi tried to close in and land his left. Taniguchi continued to press the action but fell prey to Saludar’s hard counters.
Sensing he was falling behind past the halfway mark, Taniguchi tried to engage at close quarters. His aggressiveness earned him the seventh round. The Japanese’s forward action continued trying to bulldoze his way and disrupt the Filipino’s game plan of fighting on the outside.
Saludar defused the situation. He showed poise and accuracy in the endgame, sweeping the last three rounds in all the three judges’ cards.
The scores - Luis Ruiz (Puerto Rico) - 118-110, Chris Tellez (USA) -117-111 and Surat Soikrachang (Thailand)- 117-111. The referee was Kenny Bayless (USA).
Saludar is now 19-3,10KO’s while Taniguchi drops to 11-3,7KO’s. Trainer Michael Palacios was in Saludar’s corner for this fight. Taniguchi came into this fight with wins against Filipinos Joel Lino, Joey Bactul, Benjie Bartolome, Dexter Alimento, Vincent Bautista and Raymark Taday
“Ring generalship, how he controlled the fight and patience were essential in this victory,” Saludar’s promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer after the fight.
Saludar’s skill level was sharpened by his stint with the Philippine amateur boxing team. He was a bronze medalist at the 2010 Asian Games in the 52kg category.
When asked if Saludar can defend his title on home soil, Rontal said they haven’t thought about it yet. “We just would like to thank all those who supported us and rest for the meantime.”
This was Saludar’s first defense of the title he won in July of last year in Kobe, Japan against Ryuya Yamanaka.
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