Before we start we have to say we like Taguchi, he's a very talented, tough and hard working fighter who has already notched notable wins over the likes of Yu Kimura, Yuki Chinen, Florante Condes and, most recently, Alberto Rossel. He's also shown his toughness in surviving the distance with Naoya Inoue and was very unfortunate not to have had a win on his record against Masayuki Kuroda. We feel he's a deserving champion in a division which has seen a lot of new faces winning titles over the last 12 months.
What we don't like however is Kwanthai getting a world title fight when he is less than a year removed from a loss to compatriot Stamp Kiatniwat, a talented prospect but one who is relatively unproven, and less than 2 years removed from a 7th round TKO loss to Kazuto Ioka for the very same title he's challenging for here. We would give him some lee way if he was to have scored a win of note following those losses but he hasn't and his only win against a fighter with a winning record came against Heri Amol, a man schooled by the then debuting Ken Shiro. Sadly this is another example of the WBA sanctioning a bout that shouldn't really be a world title bout.
With that said it'll come as no surprise that we're tipping Taguchi to retain his belt here. The talented Japanese fighter, dubbed “The baby Face Assassin”, has world class ability, freakish size for a Light Flyweight and the confidence of a man who is finally coming to terms with the fact he's a rather good fighter.
At his best Taguchi is a talented boxer-fighter who can box on the move or take the action inside and go to the body. He's not the biggest puncher in the division but he does hit harder than his record indicates and when he tags an opponent clean they certainly begin to respect his power and try to avoid taking too many clean shots from him. From makes him so tough to beat however is his toughness. It was that toughness that forced Naoya Inoue to dig deep in their Japanese title fight in August 2013 and it was the same toughness that saw him climb off the canvas to over-come Florante Condes last July. Despite looking relatively feeble Taguchi is as tough as they get.
As for Kwanthai the Thai was a good fighter. The key words being “was” and “good”. Back in 2010 he did claim the WBA Minimumweight title with a very narrow win over compatriot Pigmy Kokietgym. Hie reign lasted around 5 months before he was upset, in his first defense, by Indonesian veteran Muhammad Rachman. Going in to that bout Rachman was 39 and had lost his previous 4 bouts, yet he still managed to stop Kwanthai in the 9th round exposing the Thai who was 31-0-1 entering that bout.
Since the loss to Rachman we've seen Kwanthai feed on the many Indonesian fighters who fight in Thailand and pick up losses on a regular basis. That includes fighters like Domi Nenokeba, Safwan Lombok, Ichal Tobiba and Samuel Tehuayo. The type of guys that should test a prospect but not be used to help someone get a world title shot. Amazingly however that level of competition helped Kwanthai get a shot at Ioka in 2013 and again here with Taguchi.
Unfortunately Kwanthai's opposition tells us everything we need to know. He's not good enough to beat top drawer fighters and he's not good enough to beat Taguchi. The one question is whether he's tough enough to last the distance with Taguchi. We don't think he is and we're going with Taguchi to stop Kwanthai inside 9 rounds. Hopefully Taguchi will than face a more interesting test such as Randy Petalcorin, who recently looked sensational in stopping Ma Yi Ming, or Ryo Miyazaki, both of which would make for really good fights.
(Image courtesy of http://www.watanabegym.com)