It's rare that we can call a unified champion over-looked but the description seems a fair one for former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12). He wasn't flashy, and wasn't the most powerful fighter out there, but he managed to unify the WBA, IBF and Ring Magazine Light Flyweight titles in a division that rarely sees unification bouts. He bridged two generations of the Watanabe Gym, carrying the gym after Takashi Uchiyama and Kohei Kono had lost their titles, and held his until Hiroto Kyoguchi was on the scene, to take the gym forward.
Not only was Taguchi a good champion but he was tough as old boots and famously took Naoya Inoue the 10 round distance, in what was Inoue's first bout to go to the final bell.
Whilst Taguchi probably best known of the loss to Inoue we want to look at his successes and today we look at the 5 most significant wins for... Ryoichi Taguchi!
As always in this series they wins are dated chronologically and are based on significance, not how impressive they were.
Sho Nakazawa (December 22nd 2007)
The first win of Taguchi that we're including here was his 2007 win over Sho Nakazawa. On paper this win perhaps isn't going to stand out like many of his later career wins, but it was one of the wins that helped him establish himself on Japanese scene very early on. It came in the 2007 All Japan Rookie of the Year final and saw Taguchi take 5 round decision over the then 8-2-1 Nakazawa. Not only was this the Rookie of the Year final but it was also a clear step up in terms of opponent. Up to this point his opponents had a combined 9 wins to their name, Nakazawa had 8 by himself! The bout was also Taguchi's first bout over a longer distance than 4 rounds as he took a clear step towards bigger and better things.
Yu Kimura (October 15th 2011)
One thing that some fans who don't follow the Japanese scene in depth might not realise is just who Taguchi beat early in his carer. In the summer of 2011 he beat future world title challenger Tatsuya Hisada, in the Strongest Korakuen qualifying round, which set up his Strong Korakuen Final bout against future world champion Yu Kimura. The two men clashed for the right to challenger for the Japanese Light Flyweight title in 2012, during the Champion Carnival. Not only did Taguchi secure himself a title fight in beating Kimura but he also became the first, and only, man to stop Kimura. Kimura was competitive but a cut above his left eye left him unable to continue in round 6 securing Taguchi his first title fight. Sadly for Taguchi he was unable to make the most of his big chance, only earning a split decision draw with Masayuki Kuroda in March 2012.
Yuki Chinen (April 3rd 2013)
Around 13 month after Taguchi's draw with Masayuki Kuroda the Watanabe gym fighter got a second crack at the title as he took on the unbeaten Yuki Chinen for the vacant title. Coming into the bout not only were the two men looking to secure the Japanese title but also give a boost to their world title hopes, as both men were in the WBA top 15 at the time. The bout saw Taguchi dominate Chinen taking a very comfortably win over his compatriot, winning by scores of 97-93, 98-92 and 99-92. The bout helped prove Taguchi's class and also saw him taking on someone who was physically similar to himself, not something he did often in his career. The win also set up arguably his most famous bout, his 2013 clash with Naoya Inoue. Had Taguchi lost to Chinen there's almost no chance he'd have had the chance to face Inoue, and his brave performance against the monster helped establish him as a legitimately tough and brave fighter, raising his profile massively in Japan.
Alberto Rossel (December 31st 2014)
Despite losing to Inoue in 2013 Taguchi had managed to get back to winning ways with victories against Ryan Bito and Florante Condes to earn his first world title fight at the very end of 2014. The Japanese fighter would be up against WBA Light Flyweight champion Alberto Rossel, the first world champion from Peru. Rossel was certainly not a top fighter and had essentially be given the title when Kazuto Ioka left the division letting the WBA upgrade Rossel's "interim" title to the full thing. Rossel put in a gutsy performance against Taguchi but the Japanese fighter was too busy, too good, too young, and too big for the 5'1" "Chiquito". Rossel was dropped in rounds 8 and 9 as Taguchi claimed the WBA title, and one of his biggest career wins.
This was genuinely a huge day for the Watanabe Gym who ended the day, and therefore the year, with a trio of world champions. With the win Taguchi joined Takashi Uchiyama and Kohei Kono as world champions. At the age of 28, several years younger than Uchiyama and Kono, he was going to be the face of the gym for several years and this win put him in that position.
Milan Melindo (December 31st 2017)
Whilst winning a world title is big, unifying them is even bigger and that's what Taguchi did 3 years after winning the WBA title.
To end 2017 Taguchi took on IBF champion Milan Melindo in a unification bout. Taguchi was coming in to the bout on the back of 6 defenses, whilst Melindo was returning to Japan after winning the title just 7 months earlier, when he blasted out Akira Yaegashi inside a round. For Melindo this was his second defense, following a September defense against Hekkie Budler in a bit of a forgotten war. Taguchi managed to put it all together to to take a clear decision over Melindo in what was a bloody battle. Taguchi struggled at times with the skills of Melindo but after 12 rounds was a clear winner.
Whilst the win over Melindo was huge for Taguchi, and saw him unifying the WBA and IBF titles, it was essentially the end for both men. Neither would score another win. Taguchi would lose his unified titles just 5 months later to Hekkie Budler, and then move up in weight where he lost to Kosei Tanaka. After the Tanaka bout Taguchi announced his retirement. Melindo would lose in a WBC title bout in 2018, to Kenshiro Teraji, and then lose again, in 2019, to Junto Nakatani. Melindo hasn't officially retired, but he's now a long, long way from another major fight.
When we think of the best rounds in world title fights this year there are lots that have been forgotten, lost in the haze of a year of amazing fights. One or two might stand out, but many have just faded into a blur of great action we've had in 2019.
Today we bring you one of the rounds that stood out to us, and one that swung one way, then the other. It was a round from a very highly anticipated all-Japanese world title clash. A clash that perhaps came a year later than it should have, but still delivered some top level action through out.
The bout we're talking about is Kosei Tanaka's March clash with Ryoichi Taguchi, in a bout that Tanaka clearly won, by a landslide, but was tested in early the early going by a determined Taguchi. That determination was most clearly seen in this brilliant round, round 3, where Taguchi came forward and rocked Tanaka in the opening seconds.
With his man hurt Taguchi smelled his opportunity and went all out, before the momentum began to shift back. This led to a 3 minute back and forth fought at an incredibly high skill level, almost entirely in range. The referee was featured once or twice, splitting them, but that didn't take away from what was a pulsating round of action. A real forgotten round and something deserves a rewatch by those who saw the card live...and a first watch for those who missed it!
Since this bout Taguchi has announced his retirement whilst Tanaka has had a more interesting year. The youngster from Chukyo has beaten Jonathan "Bomba" Gonzalez, in a come from behind stoppage win, and is now days away from facing off with Wulan Tuolehazi, on New Year's Eve.
Disclaimer - If you're in Japan this round is sadly not available
The month of March is over and whilst it hasn't been an amazing month it has had it's moments, and has had a very clear Fighter of the Month, Fight of the Month and Upset of the Month. It's a month that had some down time, and didn't seem to be as memorable as either January or February, but was still a pretty good month in terms of highlights.
Fighter of the Month
The "KO Dream Boy" managed to really shine in the middle of the month, retaining his WBO Flyweight title in style as he clearly out pointed former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi. The bout, like most Tanaka fights, was high tempo, exciting and saw the talented Hatanaka promoted fighter trying to put on a show. Tanaka, who at 13-0 is already a 3 weight world champion, is one of the real young stars of world boxing and his performance this month was sensational. He is clearly going looking to create history and it's now assumed that he only has a fight or two left at Flyweight before seeking a 4th divisional world title.
Fight of the Month
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi
Whilst we could wax lyrical about Tanaka it does take two to tango and his bout with Ryoichi Taguchi was clearly the best bout of the month. It was relatively one sided, but was highly skilled, hugely entertaining and pitted the desire and hunger of Tanaka against the guts and heart of Taguchi. To his credit Taguchi refused to lie down and quit, and despite being clearly beaten his will to win cannot be questioned. A fantastic bout, and as good a 1-sided bout as we'll see this year.
KO of the Month
Israil Madrimov vs Frank Rojas
Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov is no normal prospect. His first 2 professional bouts have both been title bouts, over 10 rounds, with fighters holding records with more wins than losses. He isn't just a fighter with ambitious match making but also real skill, confident, and as seen this month, dynamite punching. The way he took out Venezuelan Frank Rojas on March 9th was clinical and brutal with the final left hook being as brutal a shot as they come.
Canadian based Kazakh Sadriddin Akhmedov has long been a bit of a hidden secret with fight fans who don't follow the Asian scene or the Canadian scene in a hardcore fashion. This month Akhmedov fought in Kazakhstan for the first time and whilst it wasn't his best performance to date he did clearly beat Indonesian tough guy John Ruba over 10 rounds, and prove he had the stamina to go 10 rounds, with out any problem. It's just a shame he was later diagnosed as having suffered an injury in his bout.
Lito Dante TKO12 Tsubasa Koura
The biggest upset of the month, and in fact one of the biggest upsets of the year so far, saw unheralded Filipino tough guy Lito Dante break down the previously unbeaten Tsubasa Koura. Koura, who was ranked #3 by the WBC, seemed set to make one final defense of the OPBF title before moving on to a world title fight, but those planned have been destroyed by Dante. The Filipino had given Koura fits through out the bout before finally forcing the referee to save the Japanese fighter in the final round. A huge upset!
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi - Round 2
We go back to the Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi for our round of the month, which gave us an amazing second round. The round was high skilled back and forth, and despite being one of the only really competitive rounds from the fight was a round that gave us everything. Skills, action, intensity, back and forth, guts and desire. This is what boxing is about and this is why we all love this sport.
After a few disappointing weeks of action, or rather a lack of action, things got going again this past week and it has been an excellent week with a great FOTY contender and several impressive performances from prospects.
Fighter of the Week
Kosei Tanaka (13-0, 7)
There was a clear star this week, and you'll be seeing his name mentioned a lot in this article. That is WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka, who was the clear Fighter of the Week, defending his WBO title in a fantastic 12 round contest with Ryoichi Taguchi. Although Tanaka wasn't impressed by his own performance, we were and it really was an excellent win and another thrilling bout from the "KO Dream Boy" who has now been in back to back FOTY contenders.
Performance of the Week
Koshin Takeshima (3-0, 3)
One of the many fighters who will end up being over-looked from this past week is Koshin Takeshima, who looked sensational, exciting and destructive as he stopped Jian Wang. Takeshima dropped his Chinese opponent in the opening seconds, then bulled him around until the resolve of Wang went and the referee was forced to step in and stop the bout. The level of the bout might not have been high but we are only a few months removed from Wang going 10 rounds in a regional youth title bout. Very impressive from Takeshima.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
The fight of the week was, clearly, the aforementioned WBO Flyweight title bout between Kosei Tanaka and Ryoichi Taguchi. It was, in the end, one sided but was still truly exciting, action packed and all action. Tanaka had too much of everything for the 32 year old Taguchi, but the heart and desire of Taguchi kept him in the bout and kept firing shots back at Tanaka. Yes it was one sided, but 12 rounds of pulsating action at a very high level!
Kosei Tanaka Vs Ryoichi Taguchi - Round 3
There was several great rounds in the Tanaka Vs Taguchi bout, several of which could have been considered the Round of the Week. For us round 3 gets it though, as it was the only round where Tanaka seemed shaken, with his legs buckling at one point. It was one of the few moments that Taguchi looked like he had a chance, and it was long after the round that Tanaka began to really dominate the fight. It was a great back and forth, as the first few rounds were, and really, really fun to watch.
Takuya Mizuno KO2 Piched Chianawa
There is something to really love about body shots, and that was what we got when Takuya Mizuno took out Piched Chianawa. The bout was a farcical mismatch, but it was still closed in style by Mizuno who left the Thai journeyman in agony from a perfect liver shot.
Kento Hatanaka (8-0, 8)
It wasn't only Kosei Tanaka shining from the Hatanaka gym this week but also youngster Kento Hatanaka, who impressed with a thrilling action packed and eye opening win over Songsaeng Phoyaem. The bout, which was streamed live on CBC's international fee, was exciting with Hatanaka eventually breaking down the Thai to claim the win and successfully defend his WBC Youth title. His aggressive and exciting performance certainly put him on the map for more fans and it's hard to imagine that it'll be much longer before he's in much bigger bouts.
Ricky Sismundo (35-12-3, 17) Vs Maxim Dadashev (12-0, 10)
This coming week has a lot going on, though perhaps the fight which gives us the most to be excited about is a bit of a hidden potential gem. The fight in question will see highly experienced Filipino journeyman Ricky Sismundo take on Maxim Dadashev in what could be a truly compelling contest. Sismundo is much better than his record suggests whilst Dadashev if taking a step up in class and risking his unbeaten record. This could be something very telling about both men.
For a second week running we didn't really see a lot happening, with a very rare week of no action in Japan and limited action from the rest of Asia. As a result this week's awards are very limited, with one man clearly being the talking point of the week thanks to a very impressive display and excellent KO. Thankfully we should be set for an increase in action in the very near future!
Fighter of the Week
Dmitry Bivol (16-0, 11)
Whilst Kyrgyzstan born Bivol failed to set the world alive he was clearly the Asian fighter of the Week, winning the most notable bout of the week, in regards to Asian boxing. His win over Joe Smith Jr was certainly not exciting, and will be quickly forgotten, but it was another successful defense for Bivol who continues his reign as the WBA Light Heavyweight champion, and continues to develop a reputation as a talented fighter. It's obvious he's not going to be an exciting fighter to watch at world level but there is no doubting his skills and ability.
Performance of the Week
Israil Madrimov (2-0, 2)
Uzbek fighter Israil Madrimov left us with more to talk about than the rest of the Asian fighters in action combined and his win over Venezuelan foe Frank Rojas was memorable, scary, exciting and impressive. We knew the Uzbek was special, given how he beat Vladimir Hernandez in November, but the way he knocked out Frank Rojas here was sensational and was the type of thing that will live long in the memory.
Israil Madrimov KO2 Frank Rojas
It's not likely we'll see many better combination's than the one Israil Madrimov threw to knockout Frank Rojas, who needed stretchering from the ring following the knockout. He was out cold from a combination of clean headshots, punctuated by a brutal left hook, and then went on to bang his head against the ring in what will go down as one of the most sensation KO's of 2019. Whilst some didn't know of Madrimov before this, the KO will have helped him increase his profile and will likely be rewatched over and over. A thing of beauty from one of the best prospects in world boxing.
Israil Madrimov (2-0, 2)
Needless to say it's that man again, Israil Madrimov blew us away and whilst some will argue with him being dubbed a "prospect" still, given he's already won and defended a WBA minor trinket, he will be regarded as one here. A very, very advanced prospect. Whilst it was clear Rojas wasn't fit to be in the ring with Madrimov, it's going to be very, very hard to get him a suitable opponent and we'd not be surprised to see him fighting in a world title eliminator next time out. He is a sensational talent.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
Whilst this past week was limited in terms of action things do pick up this coming week, and on March 16th we get the chance to see one of the best match ups of 2019, as Kosei Tanaka defends the WBO Flyweight title against former unified Light Flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi. This is an exceptional match up, and better yet we will feaure the live feed of the bout on our home page. Maybe we're biased but it's clear that this is going to be a very, very special bout.
The Middle of March is somewhat packed, with several notable fights taking place in the space of just a few days. These include World and Youth title fights and a very interesting JBC and OPBF female title unification bout,
Eri Matsuda (2-0) Vs Nanae Suzuki (8-2-1, 1) -Tokyo, Japan
The first major bout during the middle section of March will see Eri Matsuda risk her OPBF Atomweight title against JBC Atomweight champion Nanae Suzuki in a mouth watering unification bout. The unbeaten Matsuda has impressed in both of her bouts so far, but this is a very stiffer test than hew two previous bouts. For Suzuki this is a huge chance to put her name on the boxing map.
Miyo Yoshida (11-1) Vs Yoshie Wakasa (6-0, 2) - Tokyo, Japan
On the same card as the Matsuda Vs Suzuki bout we'll also see Miyo Yoshida defending her JBC female Bantamweight title, as she takes on unbeaten challenger Yoshie Wakasa. This is a great example of the bouts the JBC female title will give us, and really does look like a fantastic defense for Yoshida, who also holds the OPBF female Bantamweight title, but won't be defending that here.
Daniyar Yeleussinov (5-0, 3) Vs Silverio Ortiz (37-23, 18) - Pennsylvania, USA
2016 Olympic Gold medal winner, Daniyar Yeleussinov will look to extend his unbeaten run, as he takes on Mexican veteran Silverio Ortiz. The Kazakh struggled to settle to the pro-style of boxing in his first few bouts but has settled recently with a couple of good performances. This is expected to be another win for Yeleussinov, but he may need to work for a stoppage as Ortiz has proven to be relatively tough, with just 6 stoppage losses in his 23 defeats.
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) -Gifu, Japan
Potentially the best fight of the month comes right bang in the middle of March and will see Kosei Tanaka make his first defense of the WBO Flyweight title, as he takes on Ryoichi Taguchi. Tanaka won the title last year in a FOTY contender against Sho Kimura and has long been linked to a fight with Taguchi. Taguchi will be fighting as a fully fledged Flyweight for the first time, and we wouldn't be surprised if his body was more suited to Flyweight than it was at Light Flyweight. This has the potential to be a very, very special and exciting match up, with styles that should gel well.
Kento Hatanaka (7-0, 7) Vs Songsaeng Phoyaem (6-1, 1) - Gifu, Japan
On the same show we'll see Kento Hatanaka defending the WBC Youth Flyweight title against Thai visitor Songsaeng Phoyaem. Hatanaka, the son of former world champion Kiyoshi Hatanaka, has looked really exciting so far and we'd expect to see him win here, but the key at the moment is following his progression and development as a fighter. The Thai hasn't scored a win of note, but he will see this as a chance to put himself on the map.
Koshin Takeshima (2-0, 2) Vs Jian Wang (7-1-1, 2) - Gifu, Japan
Also on this card, in an interesting bout, is Koshin Takeshima who will be expecting a really tough test as he goes up against Jian Wang from China. Takeshima has shown a fair bit of promise and talent but this is a clear step up and it will be very, very interesting to see how he deals with the technically limited but tough Wang. Wang will be fighting for the first time since January's war with Seong Yeong Yang and in that draw he showed toughness, work rate and stamina. This could be very fun.
Batyrzhan Jukembayev (14-0-0-2, 12) Vs Carlos Jimenez (14-9-1, 8) - Quebec, Canada
Unbeaten Canadian based Kazakh fighter Batyrzhan Jukembayev will be fighting for the first time since falling out with Eye of the Tiger Management, though their relationship has now seemingly recovered. He'll be up against Mexican foe Carlos Jimenez in what looks like an easy bout but should be a bit of a test for Jukembayev, who's very promising and exciting despite having a number of technical flaws.
Nurzat Sabirov (8-0, 7) vs Cesar Hernan Reynoso (15-11-4, 7) - Quebec, Canada
Another Kazakh prospect in action here is Nurzat Sabirov, who will be up against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. The unbeaten Sabirov scored 4 solid wins last year and although this is a step backwards from those bouts he should be able to shine, show power and move his career forward. Reynoso is no push over, but we don't imagine he can hang with Sabirov here.
Mercito Gesta (32-2-2, 17) vs Juan Antonio Rodriguez (29-7, 25) - California, USA
Former 2-time world title challenger Mercito Gesta continues his career when he takes on Juan Antonio Rodriguez. This looks solid on paper, though in reality it should be a straight forward win for Gesta, who will likely be hunting another world title fight before his career is over. Gesta is probably never going to win the big one, but he does look like he's going to remain on the fringes of world level for the rest of his career.
Michael Dasmarinas (28-2-1, 19) Vs Kenny Demecillo (14-4-2, 8) Metro Manila, Philippines
All Filipino world title bouts have started to become a thing in recent years, after 90 years with out, and now we're starting to see a growth in all Filipino world title eliminators. That's the case here as Michael Dasmarinas and Kenny Demecillo battle in an IBF Bantamweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a shot at the WBSS winner. The IBF title is currently held by Emmanuel Rodriguez, who faces Naoya Inoue in May, and whilst Dasmarinas and Demecillo would be the under-dog against either man they do make for an interesting addition to the world title mix.
Samuel Salva (16-0, 10) Vs Rene Mark Cuarto (16-1-1, 9) -Metro Manila, Philippines
A second All-Filipino world title eliminator on this card is a match up between Samuel Salva and Rene Mark Cuarto, who battle in an IBF Minimumweight world title eliminator, to potentially get a crack at Deejay Kriel. This bout is an interesting contest between two youngsters each looking for their break out win and we're really looking forward to see how it plays out. On paper it's a very even match up and should make for compelling viewing.
Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu (13-0, 6) Vs Mike Tawatchai (45-12-2, 28) - Ekaterinburg, Russia
Unbeaten Russian based Kyrgyzstan born Akzhol Sulaimanbek Uulu will look to continue his winning run as he takes on Thai veteran Mike Tawatchai, aka Pipat Chaiporn. Following strong recent wins over Leonardo Padillo and Jon Jon Estrada Uulu will be expected to take care of the Thai with no real issues. At 33 Tawatchai can't afford any more setbacks but has yet to win outside of Thailand, and it would be a huge shock to see him changing that here.
Having already looked at 12 rumoured bouts, it makes sense to cover more bouts that appear to be getting spoke about, before we start to see action picking up in the coming days.
If you missed part 1 and part 2 they are available:
6 bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019
6 more bouts rumoured to be in the works for 2019 (AKA Part 2!)
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20)
In part 1 of this mini-series, if you will, we mentioned that IBF Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas had a mandatory title defense against Ryoichi Funai hanging over his head. In part 2 we mentioned that WBC Super Flyweight Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had his own mandatory looking against Juan Francisco Estrada. Interestingly however both Srisaket and Ancajas have expressed a desire to unify the WBC and IBF titles, and that bout has been rumoured as being something both fighters are targeting for March. It would seem likely that the two world title bodies would allow the champions to unify if, and only if, they can get the bout sorted sooner rather than later. We suspect March has been given to both parties as a sort target with April likely the hard deadline for the bout. If it gets made it will be a very special bout and we've got out fingers tightly crossed that this one does get made sooner rather than later!
Kosei Tanaka (12-0, 7) Vs Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12)
WBO Flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka and countryman Ryoichi Taguchi were meant to meet when both were Light Flyweight world champions, but injuries suffered by Tanaka derailed those plans, before he moved up in weight. Now the two are supposedly targeting in a late Spring date for the match up, with Taguchi moving up to chase Tanaka. Of the two Tanaka is the more naturally gifted talent, and the more internationally well known due to his rapid rise to being a 3-weight world champion. Taguchi on the other hand is the naturally bigger fighter, the more experience man and arguably the fighter the fighter who's body will suit Flyweight better. The teams are said to be working on this bout and it's one both fighters want, and one without any TV issues, with the two fighters essentially both fighting on the same network. There really is no reason for this bout not to get made this year!
Moruti Mthalane (37-2, 25) Vs Masayuki Kuroda (30-7-3, 16)
At the end of 2018 we saw Moruti Mthalane make his first defense, of his second reign, of the IBF Flyweight title, stopping Masahiro Sakamoto. Going in to that bout the two men knew he would have a mandatory defense against Japan's Masayuki Kuroda in 2019, with the IBF giving the winner 90 days to make that defense. Mthalane is one of the most over-looked and under-rated fighters out there, and although he has spoke about unification bouts it's unlikely he'll get one without facing his mandatory first, as the IBF do tend to enforce mandatory defenses. Kuroda is best known for losing in a WBA Flyweight world title bout against Juan Carlos Reveco, though has since re-established himself with a number of decent performances on the talent laded Japanese scene. Mthalane would be the favourite, but Kuroda is a live under-dog.
Ryosuke Iwasa (25-3, 16) Vs Cesar Juarez (23-6, 17)
Originally rumoured for December 2018, though now seemingly delayed until 2019, is a world title eliminator between former IBF Super Bantamweight champion Ryosuke Iwasa and exciting Mexican warrior Cesar Juarez. When the bout was first mentioned it appeared Iwasa was still unsure about his future, but in recent weeks he has been training for a comeback to the ring. This is the sort of stylistic match up where we see heavy handed fighters face off, one is a more pure boxer, Iwasa, whilst the other is an aggressive pressure fighter and together it should make for some real fireworks.
Shakhram Giyasov (6-0, 5) Vs Shohjahon Ergashev (15-0, 14)
A lot of the Uzbek fighters seem to be good friends, however in recent weeks we've seen 2016 Olympic Silver medal winner Shakhram Giyasov and fellow unbeaten Light Welterweight puncher Shohjahon Ergashev doing a TV Face-Off and allowing a lot of talk about the two fighting each other. The two are already world ranked, both had huge 2018's, with both climbing into the world rankings and scoring notable wins, and both can bang. It's hard to predict a winner between these two, but it would certainly be a very special bout between two fantastic fighters. Although they are already building hype in the bout there is a chance that the bout will be held off until one, if not both, hold a world title, adding a even more prestige to the contest.
Floyd Mayweather Jr (50-0, 27) Vs Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39) II
Although it's unlikely, at the time of writing, there has been talk of a rematch between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao, with the Filipino recently signing with Al Haymon, something that was seen as making the bout even more likely. These two clashed in a massive, yet well over-due, bout in May 2015 and could end up rematching again this year. Both are said to be keen on raising their profiles in Japan, with Mayweather recently featuring on Rizin 14 and having business interests in the country and Pacquiao also stating he wanted to fight in the country, following a deal with a fitness company. They could also fight in the US, where both are major names, even if fans are cynical based on their original contest. This has been rumoured, and we wouldn't be surprised if it's not rumoured every year going forward, even as the men both slide further and further beyond their primes.
Over the last few days there have been a number of stories that have linked together to suggest that the Light Flyweight division, arguably the best division in the sport right now, is set to be shaken up. So rather than cover all the news pieces individually we've decided to roll a number of them into one and look at the possible knock on effects to the division.
Hiroto Kyoguchi heading up
The first bit of news is that hard hitting Japanese youngster Hiroto Kyoguchi (10-0, 7) [京口 紘人] will be vacating the IBF Minimumweight title. There had been talk about the Watanabe gym fighter remaining at Minimumweight for a potential unification bout at the end of 2018 but it now seems like those plans have changed and he is set to vacate the IBF title and move to Light Flyweight.
The exciting 24 year old had made 2 defenses of the title, stopping Carlos Buitrago and taking a decision win over Vince Paras, but had spoken about weight struggles and suffered cramps from weight loss during the bout with Paras in May.
Ryoichi Taguchi returns
Former WBA "super" and IBF champion Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12) [田口良一], who is a stablemate of Kyoguchi at the Watanabe Gym, returned to the gym recently. Although he hasn't set his flag out on what he's going to be doing going forward he is certainly back in the gym and getting back into fighting shape. Originally it seemed like he was going to return at Light Flyweight, but it now seems to be for Taguchi to move up in weight and compete in the Flyweight division, which is going through a lot of changes at the moment.
Hekkie Budler vacates IBF
The man who beat Taguchi for the WBA "super" and IBF titles was Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10), who is now set to vacate the IBF title rather than defend the title against mandatory challenger Felix Alvarado (33-2, 29). This is likely to lead to a bout between Budler and Kyoguchi for the WBA "super" title, in what will be a very exciting and action packed bout as Kyoguchi looks to become a 2-weight champion.
The knock on of the IBF title becoming vacant is that the heavy handed Alvarado will fight for the vacant belt. At the moment Alvarado is ranked #1 by the IBF with the #2 ranking being vacant and the #3 position being held by Filipino fighter Randy Petalcorin (29-2-1, 22), in what would be an incredibly good fight for the vacant title. Another possible option to be Alvarado's opponent would be Japanese national champion Tetsuya Hisada (32-9-2, 19) [久田 哲也], who is ranked #4 by the IBF.
Over the last few weeks we've looked at the Light Flyweight world champions, the key contenders and a number of prospects. So to end this feature we'll look at one more thing that Light Flyweight has going for it, the match ups. And if we're being honest this is where the division really comes into it's own as it's set to give us some amazing bouts in the coming weeks and months. These include bouts for all the world titles!
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) vs Hekkie Budler (31-3, 10)
On May 20th we get the first of 4 mouth watering world title bouts. This bout will see WBA “super”, IBF and Ring Magazine champion Ryoichi Taguchi defending his collection of title as he takes on former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler. For Taguchi the bout will be his 8th defense of the WBA title and his first defense of the other two belts as he looks to build on a big win over Milan Melindo last year. As for Budler this will be his second shot at a Light Flyweight title, after a thrilling 12 round split decision loss to Melindo last September. The winner of this bout has a strong claim to be the divisional number #1 but given the depth in the division things aren't really that clear.
We're expecting this to be a really thrilling war as the gangly and hard working Taguchi takes on the quick and gritty determination of Budler. We're expecting something very exciting here, and wouldn't be surprised by the bout being a very thrilling 12 round war.
Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) vs Ganigan Lopez (29-7, 18) II
Less than a week after the Taguchi Vs Budler bout we get another fantastic match up, with WBC champion Ken Shiro defending his title against Ganigan Lopez, the man he took the belt from just over a year ago. Since winning the title Ken Shiro has made a couple of defense, beating Pedro Guevara and Gilberto Pedroza and has physically matured. At the age of 26 the champion is just coming into his prime and has the opportunity to become one of the faces of Japanese boxing. Lopez on the other hand is 36 years and this will be likely be his final big bout, if he loses, so will not be travelling to pick anything but a win and the title. As we saw in the first bout these two are well matched and this should be a compelling match once again.
Notably the winner of this will also have a great claim to be the best in the division. The champion has already scored notable wins over Lopez, Guevara and Pedroza whilst the challenger holds wins over the likes of Mario Rodriguez, Yu Kimura and Jonathan Taconing.
Angel Acosta (17-1, 17) vs Carlos Buitrago (30-3-1, 17)
On June 16th it's the turn of WBO champion Angel Acosta, with the huge punching Puerto Rican defending his title for the first time, and battling against Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago. The champion won the title last year, when he stopped Juan Alejo, and looked back to his destructive best following a May 2017 loss to Kosei Tanaka. As for Buitrago the 26 year old challenger has lost 3 of his last 6 and will have to look at this bout as potentially his last chance, especially given how badly he was beaten last time out by Hiroto Kyoguchi. For Acosta this bout is a chance to score a win over a well known name, and prove that he really belong to remain in the world title mix whilst Buitrago will almost certainly see this bout as a do or die opportunity.
With Acosta's power this could be over early, especially given that Buitrago was simply broken into submission by Kyoguchi, however the Nicaraguan has always seemed more suited to the Light Flyweight division and may well see the recent success of Cristofer Rosales as something of an inspiration. This isn't likely to be the best bout coming up, but should be very exciting.
Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) vs Bin Lu (1-0, 1)
WBA Regular champion Carlos Canizales will be making his first defense of the title that he won this past March, when he beat Reiya Konishi. Despite being the champion the Venezuelan won't actually be the focus of the bout, instead that will be China's Lu Bin, who looks to create history and become the first man to win a world title in just his second professional bout. The task is a huge one for Bin but if he can come out on top here he will get his name written into the record books and set a record that we don't imagine will be beaten any time soon, if ever. The Chinese fighter is a former amateur stand out, a break out success of the APB and someone willing to chase greatness. Canizales enters as the unbeaten champion, but won't have the pressure associated with being a champion for this bout.
With the winner in line to face Taguchi, by virtue of the WBA title, this bout is not only a major one between a defending champion and total novice, but also indirectly with the winner potentially getting such a big opportunity later. We expect Bin to play safe, use a lot of movement and try to move his way to a win, but Canizales can box and bang and may be a bit too powerful and experienced for Bin's history chasing moment.
As well as the bouts that have been signed there are also some great match ups we could see later this year, as the contenders look to eliminate each other and force themselves into a title fight. Here are some that we really would love the look of, and really hope get made.
Felix Alvarado (32-2, 28) Vs Jonathan Taconing (27-3-1, 22)
A bout between two crude but tough and huge punching fighters would sure deliver fire works, and that's exactly what we'd expect if Nicaragua's Felix Alvarado fought Filipino Jonathan Taconing. Both of these men have fallen short in 2 world title fighters and are chasing a third crack at a title and what a better way to get that fight than by going through another of the division's monster punchers.
Tetsuya Hisada (31-9-2, 19) Vs Reiya Konishi (15-1, 5)
Japanese boxing is well known for it's warriors and exciting back and forth wars. A bout between Tetsuya Hisada and Reiya Konishi would certainly deliver us another war with both fighters loving to let their hands go and have a fight. We wouldn't expect anything too explosive or defensively impressive here, but it would be a toe-to-toe war with both men looking to out work, out land and out punch he other. Both fighters would be looking to impress and with their style's we would get something enthralling.
Milan Melindo (37-3, 13) Vs Randy Petalcorin (28-2-1, 21)
We don't get enough top tier all-Filipino bouts, though we would like to see more and a bout between former IBF champion Milan Melindo and former WBA “interim” champion Randy Petalcorin would be just that. Both fighters will be looking to move towards getting a world title fight later in the year and both will know that a win over the other would put them forward as one of the leading Filipino contenders. Not only that but this would be a highly skilled, fast paced chess match.
Christian Araneta (15-0, 13) Vs Jesse Espinas (18-2, 11) II
Another all Filipino bout that makes a lot of sense is a rematch between Christian Araneta and Jesse Espinas. These two met back in 2015 with Espinas being stopped in 8 rounds of a fantastic bout in Danao City and with a few years since that bout a rematch does make sense. From what we under-stand both men have shown interest in a rematch and it would really push the winner towards a world title fight. High risk, high reward and high potential for an exciting bout.
Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5) Vs Rey Loreto (24-14, 16)
Yet another potentially thrilling all-Filipino bout, really showing how strong the country is at 108lbs, would see OPBF champion Edward Heno take on former world title challenger Rey Loreto. Heno is a rising contender who has made his mark over the last 12 months or so with notable results against Cris Ganoza, Seita Ogido and Merlito Sabillo but really could do with one more testing bout before looking at a world title fight. Loreto on the other hand has been matched hard through his career but has proven his ability some excellent fighters and could see a win over Heno as his chance to move towards a second world title bout, and bounce back from a loss to Knockout CP Freshmart.
If there is a boxing god out there we'll get some of those extra bouts to go alongside the currently scheduled contests as the Light Flyweight division continues to impress and make it's mark.
If you missed the other parts of this series
Part 1 is available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 1 - The World Champions
Part 2 is available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 2 - The Contenders
Part 3 is available here - The Depth at Light Flyweight - Part 3 - The Prospects
(Image of Acosta courtesy of www.promocionesmiguelcotto.com)
The argument over which division in boxing is the best is an interesting one and is often one where there is a number of divisions of real consideration. For me however one division currently stands out above all the others due to a combination of talent, depth of competition and the match ups we've been getting in recent times, along with the bout scheduled to take place in coming months.
The division is the Light Flyweight division, which is scarily deep right now, has a brilliant mixture of talent and styles and is delivering top quality bouts on a regular basis. It also has one of the sports few unified champions and is a division with so many exciting contenders that it's almost inevitable that some top fighters will miss out on big opportunities.
For part 1 of this 4 part series we'll begin by looking at the division's word champions. The second part will look at the contenders, part 3 will look at the divisions top prospects and part 4 will be a brief look at some of the match ups coming up in the division over the coming weeks, and there are several big bouts coming up as the divisions continues to deliver.
Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2, 12) - WBA “Super”, IBF and Ring Magazine Champion
The 31 year old from the Watanabe Gym made his debut back in 2006, as a 19 year old and after an inauspicious start to his career, fighting in 4 rounders he would go on to claim the 2007 Rookie of the Year. A loss in 2009 slowed his rise but he would continue to develop and in 2012 he got his first title fight, fighting to a draw with Masayuki Kuroda in a bout for the Japanese national title. After Kuroda vacated the title Taguchi would claim the vacant Japanaese belt, by over-coming Yuki Chinenin 2013. Sadly for Taguchi his national title reign was a short one, lasting less than 5 months, as he came up against the sensational Naoya Inoue and was dethroned in his first defense, losing a decision to the "Monster" and becoming the first fighter to last the distance with the rising Ohashi fight.
The set back to Inoue was a big one but Taguchi bounced back and has subsequently gone 9-0-1 (4). He claimed the WBA title in late 2014 by defeating Alberto Rossel and after several defenses he went on to add the IBF and Ring titles last year, defeating Milan Melindo in an excellent bout to end 2017 and unify three world title. His current 10 fight unbeaten run has seen him defeat not only Rossel and Melindo but also Ryo Miyazaki, Kwanthai Sithmorseng and Robert Barrera, and he has also fought to a draw with big punching Carlos Canizlaes.
Tough with a great engine, the ability to adapt and freakish size for a Light Flyweight Taguchi is going to be a tough man to dethrone and is already lined up for his next defense, on May 20th against former WBA Minimumweight champion Hekkie Budler. That bout is an IBF mandatory, and Taguchi is likely to be be returning in September and December as he looks to finish 2018 with 10 defenses of some version of the WBA belt.
Ken Shiro (12-0, 6) – WBC champion
Aged 26 Ken Shiro is significantly younger than Taguchi, but is already an accomplished fighter on the professional scene, and that's despite the fact he's been a professional for less than 4 years. In what has been a really short career he has already claimed the WBC Youth, Japanese, OPBF and WBC world titles. He was earmarked for success from his debut and aggressively fast tracked, winning a title within 3 years of his debut. His record already features wins over the likes of Pedro Guevara, Ganigan Lopez, Gilberto Pedroza and Kenichi Horikawa and clearly shows the belief that his team, headed by his father, have in him.
Ken Shiro a former amateur stand out on the Japanese doemstic scene and is blessed with speed, a high boxing IQ and the youthfulness to develop his skills further. Those traits are why Ken Shiro looks like he will become one of the key faces of Japanese boxing over the next few years, along with the likes of Daigo Higa and Kosei Tanaka. Although unfortunate to have his first two world title fights, both thrillers, shown on delay in Japan he did have his opportunity to shine on live TV last time out. And he took that chance as he impressed by showing off his boxing, power, skills, speed and personality, which will certainly have won over fans who hadn't seen him before.
Although more of a pure boxer than many in the division he really does have the ability to box, brawl or fight and and is very much a chameleon in the ring.
Ken Shiro will make his next defense of the WBC title on May 25th against former champion Ganigan Lopez, the man that he originally beat for he belt last May. A win there, in impressive fashion, could well secure Ken Shiro's place as one of Fuji TV's top fighters, and could see them building shows around him in the future.
Angel Acosta (17-1, 17) – WBO champion
Puerto Rican puncher Angel Acosta is one of the divisions many big punchers and the 27 year old not only has power but also heart, skills, under-rated speed, a very good amateur back ground and stamina. He blew out his first 15 opponents in just 41 rounds, but has since gone 32 rounds in his last 3 bouts, proving his power carries late in to bouts, with 10th round stoppages against Japhet Uutoni and Juan Alejo. His only loss has also come in his last 3 bouts, suffering a decision loss to Kosei Tanaka last May, though he has since bounced back with the win over Alejo, which came in December 2017.
At the moment Acosta is one of two Puerto Rican world champions, along with Alberto Machado, and will likely have his team try to build him as one of the new faces of Puerto Rican boxing. He lacks the star power of a Tito Trinidad, Miguel Cotto or even a Juanma Lopez but like those 3 he is a naturally heavy handed fighter and will certainly thrill fans, especially given he has such brutal power at such a low weight
Acosta was pencilled in to fight Ryuji Hara earlier this year but Hara was injured in the build up, a potential bout with Merlito Sabillo also fell through for Acosta but he is now set to defend his title on June 16th. His opponent for that bout isn't yet set, though Hara is said to be the front runner. That will be his first defense as he looks to begin to establish his reign as a world champion and build on his repuation as one of the divisions stars. It's worth noting he has also been linked to potential unification bouts with both both Taguchi and Ken Shiro, and both of those bouts would be great
Carlos Canizales (20-0-1, 16) – WBA “regular” champion
The most recent man to pick up a “world” title is 25 year old Venezuelan punch Carlos Canizales, who claimed his title this past March with a close decision win over the previously unbeaten Reiya Konishi. That win saw Canizales claim a “world” title in his second attempt, having previously been held to a draw by Ryoichi Taguchi in 2016. Although a powerful puncher Canizales has shown an ability to box and move, brawl and punch. Though he has got question marks about his own durability and about his stamina, as he did appear to slow down massively against Konishi.
Canizales's best win was the one over Konishi, but he does hold one other win of note, a victory over Robert Barerra. Sadly Canizales is some way from really proving himself as a top tier fighter, but his bouts against Konishi and Taguchi proved that he was much, much better than we'd think given his competition. Sadly though he does look to be a step behind in terms of accomplishment compared to the others. Saying that however with the depth in the division Canizales has the opportunity to prove that he is world class and establish himself as a top fighter, much like the other champions.
Having only won his title in March it's unclear when Canizales will return to defend it. He may be in the queue to face Taguchi, in a rematch of their 2016 draw, or may look to have some lower tier defenses to try and help with his development. Given how the rankings currently look their will be a lot of options of Canizales and he has a great chance to establish his name as a top fighter, rather than just a secondary title holder.
(Images courtesy of Watanabe Gym, Boxmob and promociones Miguel Cotto)
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