Earlier this year saw Thai sources report that WBA Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi's (25-2-2, 11) [田口良一] was likely to face Thai challenger Palangpol CP Freshmart (12-1, 7) [คู่เอก พลังพล ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท] in what would have been the Watanabe fighter's next defense of the title. It now appears that the bout is off, unless a deal can be made for a Watanabe product to fight on the same card in another world title bout. Although the reasoning for this is currently unclear it does seem plausible that the issue is Tokyo TV, who would struggle to defend having a single world title show on their channel, especially given what TBS and Fuji TV are giving us this year.
It seems like one possibility which is being considered is for OPBF Minimumweight champion Hiroto Kyoguchi (7-0, 6) [京口 紘人] to get a world title fight on the same card, builing on his fast track to the top. The logical option for the show would be to have Kyoguchi battle with WBA Minimumweight champion Knockout CP Freshmart (15-0, 7) [น็อคเอาท์ ซีพีเฟรชมาร์ท]. Sadly however at the moment Kyoguchi is unranked by the WBA, who are the only organisation not to rank him, and Knockout has just been ordered to negotiate with WBA #1 ranked contender Rey Loreto (23-13, 15) in a mandatory title fight.
There is a chance that Watanabe will offer Loreto a step aside payment, to get their televised doubler header and as a result for TV Tokyo to back the show, however Loreto would certainly be looking for the first shot at the winner of Knockout Vs Kyoguchi.
Another story is that the Taguchi Vs Palangpol bout has been scrapped and instead Taguchi's team will be looking to have their man defend the title against mandatory challenger Robert Barrera (18-1, 12), from Colmbia. The Colombian press has reported that this bout could potentially be taking place in either June or July in Japan, likely acting a mandatory defense for Taguchi. If that takes place it would still only give Watanabe one set world title bout, but could give them some extra time to scramble for a second world title bout or to agree a deal with Loreto and Knockout.
At the moment it's looking like 2017 is a strange year for the Watanabe gym. Their star man, Takashi Uchiyama (24-2-1, 20) [内山 高志] as well as former 2-time champion Kohei Kono (32-10-1, 13) [河野 公平] haven't yet announced their future plans and with Taguchi sat waiting for a fight things are frustrating at the top. They have however seen a number of success on the domestic and regional scenes, with Kyoguchi, Yusaku Kuga (14-2-1, 10) [久我 勇作], Nihito Arakawa (29-6-1, 17) [荒川 仁人] and Ryuichi Funai (27-7, 19) [船井 龍一] all winning titles so far this year.
Again we need to report that it's unclear what's next for Taguchi, but it does seem like his broadcaster is wanting a multi-title broadcast and that he won't be in action until the summer, at the earliest, with Barrera now looking like his most likely opponent.
*Note although NTV have done single world title shows in recent times WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-0-2, 19) [山中慎介] is a much bigger draw than Taguchi and comparing their populairty and drawing powers really isn't fair.
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