Fighters are rarely described as "cute" but one fighter who did fit that description was Japanese Light Flyweight Ryoichi Taguchi (27-4-2, 12), who was often described as "cute" by the Japanese press during his career. That description could sound demeaning but the talented Japanese fighter managed to have a solid career between 2006 and 2019.
During his long and successful career Taguchi won Rookie of the Year, the Japanese Light Flyweight title and unified the WBA and IBF Light Flyweight world titles. He also faced a genuine who's who of the lower weights, sharing the ring with the likes of Tetsuya Hisada, Yu Kimura, Masayuki Kuroda, Naoya Inoue, Florante Condes, Alberto Rossel, Ryo Miyazaki, Carlos Canizales, Milan Melindo, Hekkie Budler and Kosei Tanaka.
Although we suspect everyone has seen something of Taguchi's career, we also know fans probably don't know much about him, as he was generally quite a private person. With that in mind let us share 10 facts you probably didn't know about... Ryoichi Taguchi!
1-As a child Taguchi was bullied, and in fact it was the bullying that lead him to boxing, which he started doing when he was junior high school. He reportedly began boxing at the Ota Ward Gymnasium, before heading to the Yokohama Hikari Gym and then finally settling at the Watanabe Gym, where he joined after graduating High school. It was, of course, the Watanabe Gym that guided his entire professional career.
2-On the subject of Taguchi's early boxing days he only fought in 2 amateur bouts, tough he did manage to go unbeaten as an amateur, running up a reported 2-0 (2) record.
3-Taguchi's first trainer at the Watanabe Gym was was Korean fighter Hong Dong Sik, who came runner up in the World Junior Championships. Sik spotted Taguchi shadow boxing on his second day at the gym and quickly took a liking to the youngster. Later in his career Taguchi would be trained by Yuta Ishihara
4-It's well known that Taguchi faced off with Naoya Inoue, with Taguchi losing the Japanese Light Flyweight title to Inoue in 2013. Interestingly this wasn't the first time the men shared the ring. In fact they had done so in 2012, before Inoue had made his professional debut, as part of a spar. Originally the plan had been for their sparring session to last 4 rounds, but it was curtailed a round early when it was clear Inoue was too good for Taguchi. Footage of this spar has been posted online since it took place, and it was clear that there was a huge gulf in class between the two men.
5-Although Taguchi wasn't dropped by Inoue in their bout he was put down just two fights later, with former IBF Minimumweight champion Florante Condes dropping Taguchi in the second round of their 8 round clash in 2014. In fact Taguchi is the only fighter, through Inoue's first 20 bouts, to have not been either dropped or stopped by the "Monster".
6-Taguchi used to enter the ring to a song called "ART OF LIFE" by KAT-TUN, partly thanks to his friendship with Tatsuya Ueda.
7-On December 10th 2019 Taguchi took part in his retirement ceremony at Korakuen Hall. As part of that ceremony he sparred with former stablemate Takahashi Uchiyama, and was left in agony towards the end of the session as Uchiyama caught him with a nasty body shot. A sponsor for the show as said to have offered Taguchi a financial bonus if he could knockout Uchiyama, though it was Taguchi who was left close to going down.
8-On the subject of Takashi Uchiyama he and Taguchi were described as being like brothers, and Uchiyama was one of Taguchi's favourites fighters, along with fellow Light Flyweight champion Michael Carbajal.
9-One final fact based on Taguchi's relationship is the fact that Taguchi now works at Uchiyama's gym, the KOD Lab in Tokyo. The gym is one of two that Uchiyama owns, with the other being the KOD Studio in Kasukabe which employees Hisashi Amagasa among others.
10-Taguchi was classmates in junior high school with Saori Fujisaki, the piano player from Japanese band SEKAI NO OWARI.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).