Over the last few years the lower weight divisions have been among the best with competitive bouts, a lot of excitement and some genuine all out wars. Sometimes they have been bouts we expected to be good, that lived up to expectation, other times however we have been given an unexpected treat in a bout that easily exceeded expectations.
This coming Wednesday we're hoping for a bout that fits in that second category as WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (23-2-1, 10) [田口良一] defends his title against Venezuelan veteran Juan Jose Landaeta (27-8-1, 21). On paper the bout is a mismatch, and the bookies widely agree with it being a poor match up, though both have sounded confident in the build up and both seem to have prepared hard for the bout.
The reason many view the contest as a mismatch is Landaeta's age and history. The 37 year old Venezuelan made his debut way back in 1999 and has had a long career, which has seen him share the ring with the likes of Noel Arambulet, Chana Porpaoin, Yutaka Niida, Koki Kameda and Mark John Yap. Another reason is Landaeta's record, which consists of 8 losses, including relatively recent defeats to the limited pairing of Francisco Rosas and Edwin Diaz.
Although not the most consistent fighter on the planet Landaeta does look amazing for his age. That is partly due to his recent breaks from the ring, which lead to him fighting just once in a 6 year period between Summer 2008 and December 2014. That break hasn't stopped him physically ageing, but did mean he didn't take much damage during his mid 30's.
In the ring Landaeta is a very talented boxer, with a very intelligent jab, a genuine toughness and a lot of natural skill. He does perhaps lack the consistent fire to be a world level fighter, but at his best he could be a handful for many, with Niida and Kameda both finding that out first hand.
Whilst Landaeta is at the end of his career the same cannot be said for Taguchi, who is only 29 and really beginning to find his stride after almost a decade in the professional ranks. He debuted back in 2006 and began things with an opening round KO. After reeling off 9 straight wins he suffered his first loss, a defeat to Masayoshi Segawa. After that loss the Japanese fighter reeled off 7 more wins before his next set back with those wins including victories over Tetsuya Hisada and Yu Kimura. Sadly though that winning run was ended in 2012 when he fought to a draw with Masayuki Kuroda in a bout for the Japanese title.
Since the draw with Kuroda we've seen Taguchi really find his way in the sport, going 7-1 and claiming both the Japanese and WBA titles at 108lbs, whilst his only loss came to the amazing Naoya Inoue. In fact rather tellingly Inoue was unable to see off Taguchi who is so far the only fighter to hear the final bell against the “Monster”.
In the ring Taguchi is a very tall and rangy Light Flyweight, he's tough, he hits harder than his record and he knows how to box on the outside, as well as battle up close. Sadly though his last bout, a TKO win over Luis de la Rosa, seemed to show up that he too is inconsistent and were it not for the de la Rosa injuring himself there is a genuine chance that Taguchi's title reign would have come to an end. Notably however he won against de la Rosa and continued his reign as champion and went back to the gym to work on the issues that plagued him in that bout.
With both men being talented, rangy and tough we can see this going the full distance, despite both predicting KO wins. Notably however the winner may simply be decided by who turns up in better condition. Both have been inconsistent, both have shown touches of class but both have also shown they can have off days. If both turn up in perfect condition then we suspect Taguchi will win with his youth and energy. However if Taguchi is less than 100% there is a real chance that he gets out boxed by the challenger and loses his title.
We do suspect Taguchi will win, but wouldn't be massively surprised if he had to answer some very serious questions on route to a victory.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.