By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino contenders Arthur Villanueva (31-3-1,18KO’s) and Jonathan Taconing (28-3-1,22KO’s) both experienced fighting at the world championship level twice and came up short. They will be getting a third shot at glory this July.
Villanueva will be the first to step up to the plate when he fights the undefeated WBC world bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali (15-0, 11KO’s) of France at the Barys Arena in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on July 6.
Villanueva was a rising star in Philippine boxing and touted as a future world champ. He was undefeated in 27 fights when he fought Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo in 2015 for the vacant IBF world junior bantamweight title. Villanueva lost a tenth round technical decision. The fight was stopped due to Villanueva’s cut near the right eye. The scores were wide in favor of Arroyo - 98-91 twice and 97-92. But the punch stats told a different story with Villanueva shown to be busier, throwing 494 and landing 95, while Arroyo threw just 278 and landed 77. No rematch happened and Arroyo would lose his title to another Filipino, Jerwin Ancajas.
Villanueva would win his next three fights and got another shot at a vacant title, this time the WBO interim bantamweight belt against South African Zolani Tete. Villanueva lost by a lopsided unanimous decision in Leicester,U.K. Tete would be recognized as the regular world champion by the WBO.
Villanueva went 2W-1L-1D in his next four bouts, which included a 6th round TKO loss to Mexican Luis Nery in Tijuana and a listless performance against countryman Carlo Demecillo in Cebu, a bout that was scored a draw last November.
Villanueva is only ranked number 15 by the WBC. The WBO has him much higher at number 4. Now at 30 years old, time is not on Villanueva’s side. This could very well be his last title shot.
The 32 year old Oubaali is of Moroccan descent and is an accomplished amateur. He won a bronze medal in the 2007 World Amateur Championships in the light flyweight category.
Two years ago, Oubaali scored a seventh round knockout win over Filipino Mark Anthony Geraldo. Aside from having won WBO regional belts, Geraldo is known for being the only boxer to beat Jerwin Ancajas seven years ago in Cebu.
Oubaali, a southpaw, won the WBC world title by unanimous decision against American Rau’shee Warren by unanimous decision. This fight was on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s win against Adrien Broner in Las Vegas last January. He will be making his first title defense.
Then on July 12 at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Taconing will challenge WBC world light flyweight champion Ken Shiro of Japan.
Taconing, a southpaw, turned pro in 2007 and had his first title shot in 2012 against then WBC light flyweight champ Thai Kompayak Porpramook (Suriyan Satorn). He lost by a controversial technical decision in the fifth round that left many in the Philippines crying foul. The fight was topped due to a cut on Taconing in round four. The scores read 47-47 and 48-46, 50-45 in favor of Kompayak. There was a protest and a reported review of the fight. The late Ronnie Nathanielz, a famous boxing scribe in the Philippines, wrote that the WBC suspended the referee Jae Bong Kim because of his performance in that fight. But a rematch never happened.
Taconing had to wait four years for another title shot. In between he had notable wins against fellow Filipino Vergilio Silvano and former WBO world champ Ramon Garcia Hirales of Mexico. Taconing traveled to Mexico City but lost to Ganigan Lopez in their WBC light flyweight title bout by unanimous decision.
Taconing racked up six wins since then including a unanimous verdict against young rising local prospect Vince Paras. He is the WBC’s number one contender in the 108 lb division.
The 27 year old Shiro whose real name is Kenshiro Teraji, is unbeaten at 15-0,8KO’s. He dethroned Ganigan Lopez in 2017 and has since compiled five successful defenses, which includes a second round KO of Lopez in their rematch and a seventh round TKO win over Filipino Milan Melindo, a former IBF world champ.
Taconing is now 32 years old. World title shots don’t come very often even in the present era of multiple governing bodies. Just like Villanueva,there will be a sense of urgency when he enters the ring on fight night.
Photo - Arthur Villanueva (left) and Jonathan Taconing
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