In the final fight of 2017 fans were treat to a Light Flyweight unification as WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) [田口良一] battled is IBF champion Milan Melindo (37-3, 13) in a highly anticipated match up. The contest was frustrating at times, compelling at others and genuinely a fantastic way to end out what has been an amazing 2017 for boxing fans.
The fight started with both looking to feel the other out. It was however Melindo who maanged to take the opening round as he settled quickly and looked very sharp very early. That sharpness shone through in round 2, though by the end of the round it was clear that Taguchi was finding his footing and it seemed he was beginning to settle well, after some rocky moments.
In round 3 Taguchi really got going and arguably took his first round as he managed to get in an out, fight at a range of his choosing and have success both inside and outside. Sadly on the inside the heads came together and it wasn't long until Melindo was cut from a clash of heads, likely re-opening old scar tissue from a previous fight., As soon as Melindo was cut he seemed to have something taken away and Taguchi's success grew in a very messy and forgettable round 4. There was some moments of success for both but on the whole it was a frustrating and messy round.
The charge of Taguchi continue into round 5 and by now he was really getting some momentum going, despite both clashing heads numerous times. It was a very good round for Taguchi, who landed several clean and clear right hands as Melindo seemed to be showing some frustration at the cuts. Although accidentally Melindo did also land a shot after the bell, though neither Taguchi or the referee made much of it
Melindo managed to have some notable success in round 6, but Taguchi held his own whilst managing to drag Melindo into his style of a fight. It was exciting again as both men began to let rip with combinations. The combinations of Taguchi continued to shine in round 7, one of his best rounds, as he showed he could box at range and looked crisp doing so as he made the most of his reach advantage. Melindo tried to fight back, and landed a nice counter near the end of the round, but showed frustration towards the end of the round. Taguchi's success from 7 got even better in round 8 as he really did look like a fighter enjoying his time in the ring, and enjoying the success he was having against an ever more frustrated, and wilder, Melindo.
Round 9 was, for all intents a messy one. Melindo looked to turn things around but often rushed in, spoiled his own work and, despite cutting Taguchi with a headbutt, really struggled to look fluid for long. He had some lovely moments, and arguably took the round, but it wasn't a fun to watch round with a limit in terms of class action. Sadly for Melindo that success was easily forgotten by the end of round 10 as Taguchi had a huge round, really taking the fight to Melindo who was backing up as Taguchi moved into top gear. The Japanese fighter kept up the pace in round 11, with Melindo's face becoming a total mess, partly due to more headclashes. With Melindo's face really becoming a mess it would have been easy for him to look for a way out but instead he stayed in there, and was hurt close to the end of the round.
Knowing he was behind going into the final round Melindo threw the kitchen sink at Taguchi early on, but Taguchi then threw it back at Melindo as the act lead to more head clashes, a worsening of Melindo's cut over the right eye and real blood and guts action. It was a perfect end as both really just gave their all in a messy yet exciting final round.
Despite the excellent start by Melindo he really came undone in the middle of the bout and struggled to get things going again whilst Taguchi moved through the gears. By the end of 12 rounds there was little doubting of the winner, with Taguchi taking a unanimous decision, 117-111, twice and 116-112. We feel the 117-111 cards were harsh, but at the edge of reality, with 116-112 feeling like a more correct card.
Taguchi ends the year as the WBA, IBF and Ring magazine Light Flyweight champion, ending the year as arguably the key man at 108lbs, though that's a position countryman Ken Shiro may dispute. For Melindo it's a painful end to what had been an excellent year, and ends his slim hope of being the 2017 Fight of the Year.
On a huge day for boxing fans around the globe it could be said that fans in the Philippines got the perfect start as they got two brilliant bouts on Pinoy Pride 42, the second of which saw a local hero retain a world title, despite suffering massive cuts over both eyes.
The champion was IBF Light Flyweight kingpin Milan Melindo (37-2, 13), who narrowly defeated South African challenger Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10) in a really dramatic, and engaging contest.
The fight started slow and the 4 rounds were tactically changed rounds with Melindo looking to unleash his counter punches and Budler waiting back, trying to figure out a point of attack. That saw the challenger look to jab, and look to unleash combinations on the inside, though he got punished for both. The one massive incident during those early rounds was a monstrous low blow from Melindo that sent Budler down in a heap.
In round 5 it seemed like Budler finally found something to go with as he upped the pace, and Melindo responded in kind in a round that suddenly saw the fight come alive. Through the round it seemed like Melindo was the bigger puncher, but Budler certainly seemed to land more and seemed to be the one forcing the action as it suddenly looked like we were on for a tear up.
Sadly the action completely died in round 6, arguably the worst round of the fight. Despite the action dying off the end of the round saw the drama begin as a huge headclash left Budler cut over the left eye, with the cut being a long, deep one. The cut could have stopped the fight, and in round 7, when the doctors inspected it, it did look like we were going to have an early conclusion.
Thankfully the doctor decided to let the fight go on and in round 7 Budler had a great round and it seemed things were turning his way, with the cut clearly bothering Melindo. To his credit Melindo fought back fantastically in rounds 8 and 9, as he escaped another inspection.
With the fight finely balanced Melindo suffered yet again, as the two traded blows and their heads connected again. This time it was Melindo's right eye that was left with a gash over it and a bad swelling that made it seem like he was essentially blind in the eye. The swellings drove on Budler in round 11 and although Melindo was clearly fighting with his sight impaired the Filipino had his moments, including a massive right hand late on. It wasn't enough to take Melindo the round but continued to prove he was the power puncher in there.
With the bout close, and with Melindo's face a swollen and cut mess, the final round was always going to play a major role and both fighters knew it. Budler came out hot, unfortunately was dropped in the first 30 seconds. He got back to his feet, complained about it being a trip and then they went to war, with Melindo seemingly hunting a stoppage then Budler turning the tables until they were just trading back and forth in a round that should in contention for round of the year.
When the knockdown occurred it did seem like it would play a massive role, and that proved to be the case when the cards were read, with scores of 115-113 to Budler being over-ruled by scores of 115-112 and 117-110 for Melindo.
With the win Melindo secures his first defense, but he will be out of the ring for quite some time due to the cuts he suffered, which were both nasty ones. Potentially he could be back in time for a mandatory in 2018, or perhaps see an interim champion crowned whilst he recovers.
Although the Light Flyweight lacks the respect it deserves this was the second world title fight the division has seen this week, and like the first it was a thrilling and dramatic defense, with the winner over-coming serious facial damage. Sadly though it could mean that two champions are out of action until 2018.
To begin today Japan had all 4 of the Light Flyweight world titles, though sadly for those hoping for a 4 man Japanese unification those dreams were shattered today as long term warrior, and 3-weight champion Akira Yaegashi (25-6, 13) [八重樫 東] lost the IBF title within a round to Filipino Milan Melindo (36-2, 13), who entered the bout as the "interim" champion and left as someone looking like a star.
The bout started with both men lookign to establish their jab, and it seemed liek Yaegashi was the quicker man as he began to move in and out, and he in fact landed the first blows of note. It was however short lived success for the popular warrior who was dropped when the two traded blows. It wasn't a hurtful knockdown, but it was a shock.
Yaegashi looked clear headed when he got back to his feet but was down moments later, and this time he looked hurt, and was clearly buzzed. The warrior spirit saw him get to his feet but Melindo could smell his prey and went on the hunt, dropping the Japanese fighter with a huge right hand, and this time the referee had seen enough, and Yaegashi looked like he was clearly in need of being saved.
It's a sad way for a warrior like Yaegashi to lose his title, in just 165 seconds, but it's fair to say that his history of wars have taken their toll on him and his punch resistence isn't what it once was. His wars with the likes of Pornsawan Porporamook, Kazuto Ioka, Toshiyuki Igarashi, Roman Gonzalez, Pedro Guevara, Javier Mendoza and Jose Martin Tecuapetla have all taken a toll on him. At the age of 34, and with a lot of miles on the clock, this is probably the end for Yaegashi, though we've said that before only for him to bounce back.
As for Melindo it was third time lucky, finally winning a world title after coming up short against Juan Francisco Estrada and Javier Mendoza, and it was the performance that puts him in the mix for some amazing fights down the line. He looked strong and powerful here and could well be offered some big money to come back to Japan for a unification bout.
Earlier today fans at the Cebu Coliseum saw local star Milan Melindo (35-2, 12) claim the IBF "interim" Light Flyweight title and secure a shot at the regular title as he out pointed Thai youngster Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (31-4-1, 15) [ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] over 12 rounds.
The home fighter, with the crowd well behind him, started well by using his skills to keep Fahlan off balance and prevented the Thai from building any real momentum, despite applying the pressure. Fahlan did eventually land with a key shot that opened up a cut on Melindo's nose and forced the Filipino to be a bit more wary, as he focused on body shots, attempting to slow Fahlan down.
By round 6 it did seem like Melindo was in charge and in round 7 he had one of his best rounds, wobbling Fahlan who had to grit his teeth to see out the round. Despite bing hurt in the 7th Fahlan came out firing in rounds 8 and 9 and seemed to win both of those to close up the scorecards as Melindo's output dropped and the Thai came into the bout.
Despite crawing his way back into the fight Fahlan was unable to do enough in the championship rounds to make up for the early rounds and Melindo had an excellent round 12, letting bombs go, to seal the result.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Melindo, with the crowd supporting him and the home advantage, had done enough to secure the victory and that proved to be the case with the Filipino getting the decision by scores of 115-113, twice, and 117-111.
With the win Melindo essentially books a bout with full champion Akira Yaegashi, and the hope is for Yaegashi Vs Melindo to be made for December 30th, though the cut may force the bout to be delayed until 2017. Sadly for Fahlan this was a second loss in a world title bout, however at the age of 23 he will almost certainly bounce back and get another down the line.
Later on Saturday night Filipino fighter Milan Melindo (32-2, 12) got his second world title fight as he took on IBF Light Flyweight champion Javier Mendoza (24-2-1, 19), unfortunately for the talented Filipino it resulted in his second loss. A disappointing technical decision in a bout that was marred by head clashes.
The first of those head clashes happened in the early moments of the bout, a result of the Orthodox Vs Southpaw stances. Despite the clash early on the rest of the opening round was relatively well fought, with the only real drama coming from an accidental low blow by Melindo late on. Sadly for Melindo things didn't look good for him overall as Mendoza seemed to walk through his shots, other than the low blow, as he tried to force his fight on to Melindo.
Through the second round it was clear that Mendoza was more than just a wild slugger, he was actually a capable boxer puncher and although he didn't have the speed of his challenger he simply seemed to big and too strong. Melindo had his moments though all often it was the heavier blows of Mendoza that really left a lasting impression. The same was also the case in the third round as Mendoza continued to take the fight to the Filipino.
The 4th round was essentially fought in a phone booth with Mendoza refusing to give Melindo any space. The close action was essentially Mendoza's dream and although Melindo again had his moments they were fleeting with his most notable punches being low blows. The first of the low blows say Melindo receive a clear warning to keep them up whilst the second, after the bell, seemed deserve a point deduction, though it didn't come.
The 5th round against saw Mendoza taking the action to Melindo and although the pace of the fight seemed to drop off slightly it was again a round that saw Melindo struggle to have more than just a few moments. The Filipino was backed on to the ropes numerous times through the round where Mendoza took the opportunity to land some fearsome shots. Sadly for Melindo he was again dropping below the belt with a number of shots, for which he was eventually deducted a point.
The start of the 6th was good for Melindo who seemed to have real success fighting fire with fire but unfortunately headclashes left both men cut. Melindo was cut over the right eye, in what immediately looked to be a nasty one. More headclashes followed with Mendoza suffering a cut around his left eye. Sadly the cut to Mendoza's eye forced an early finish with the doctor ruling him unfit to continue.
Due to the headclashes we went to the scorecards and there was no real doubting the winner with Mendoza taking a clear win on all 3 cards.
This set back for Melindo is a big one though we suspect he can bounce back from it and remain a relevant contender. For Mendoza this was a great win and we'd really like to see him in with Ryo Miyazaki, stylewise that would have FOTY contender written all over.
Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) took on the best Flyweight on the planet in Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18), the WBA "super" and WBO champion, and whilst he came up short he proved that he belonged on the world level.
The Mexican champion, who incidentally won his world title in the same venue back in April by defeating Brian Viloria, went in as a clear betting favourite. Despite this Melindo seemed unfazed by the under-dog tag and after a quiet couple of rounds he started to come to life.
Using his excellent handspeed and crisp straight shots Melindo began to force Estrada back and even appeared to rock the champion as he began to his feet in the bout. It appeared, from round 3 onward that the challenger was up to the task and through the middle section of the fight he really showed why so many in the Philippines rave about him as he rattled off wonderful combinations on Estrada.
Although much of the bout was a high speed chess match it was clear that Melindo had both the speed and the boxing brain to hold his own with Estrada who at times actually seemed to run from the challenger. It was also surprising that Melindo appeared to have the power to hurt Estrada, something that Brian Viloria and Roman Gonzalez both struggled to do.
Unfortunately for the challenger he was often being tagged in the body by hard single shots from the champion who is one of the sports truly under-rated body punchers. These shots appeared to be taking their toll in the latter rounds with Melindo's offense becoming less and less notable from 9 onwards as Estrada began to bully a tiring challenger.
With Estrada coming on strong Melindo was going to have to fight off a determined champion and whilst he was holding his own in the trenches in round 10 he was clearly running out of gas.
As Melindo's work rate decreased and Estrada continued the charge Melindo was forced to take the power of Estrada who dropped him in round 11 as he started to turn the screw on the challenger. Melindo was again rocked in round 12 as Estrada tried to force an early conclusion though the Filipino showed his fighting spirit and saw out the final round.
Although the Filipino had fought his heart out and many felt he had pushed the champion all the way the judges seemed unimpressed by Melindo and had Estrada as a run away winner, claiming a lopsided decision as a result.
The scorecards may make fans, and Melindo himself, feel he was thoroughly outgunned though in all honesty most neutrals who watched the fight will know that he gave Estrada as tough a contest as Viloria did just a few short months ago.
World Title Results
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