For the second day running Tokyo hosts a trio of world title bouts, this time around however only one really stands out. That's the WBA Light Flyweight title bout between current champion Alberto Rossel (32-8-0-1, 13) and Japan's unheralded Ryoichi Taguchi (20-2-1, 8). The bout lacks a big name but is a genuinely compelling contest between an experienced veteran in the best form of his career and a talented but yet under-exposed fighter looking for his chance to announce himself on the world stage.
Aged 36 Rossel is a true veteran and has been a professional since 1998. In his 41 fight career he has faced a who's who of the lower weights including Ivan Calderon, Brian Viloria, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Vusi Malingo and Hugo Fidel Cazares. All of whom have beaten him. Despite his age however he is now in the form of his career and has strung together a career high 8 successive wins. Notably however they have all come in Panama with with 6 of them coming by decision.
Although Rossel has been fighting at home he hasn't just been fighting scrubs. The first notable win form those 8 bouts was a decision over the then unbeaten Jose Alfredo Rodriguez to claim the WBA interim Light Flyweight title. As the “interim” champion Rossel defended the belt 4 times, defeating Karluis Diaz, Walter Tello, Jose Alfredo Zuniga and Gabriel Mendoza. On paper those wins were good but in reality they weren't as good as they looked with each one being a struggle, despite some wide scorecards. They told us as much about Rossel's as they did his strengths. His lack of power for example and his frustrating style which really isn't attractive.
Rossel was upgraded from “interim” champion to “regular” champion earlier this year, opening a space for Randy Petalcorin to claim the interim belt with a stoppage of Walter Tello who had previously pushed Rossel close.
Although limited Rossel has been viewed as central to the development of the sport in Preu. He is the countries first world champion and has likely helped the likes of Jonathan Maicelo, Ricardo Astuvilca, and David Zegarra all become fighters on, or around, the fringes of world class. With those fighters now coming through however Rossel has served his primary use and now it seems he is being sent out for a high paying gamble in Japan. If he wins he cements his title, if he loses he collects a payday and can think about retirement with some money in the bank.
At 28 years old Taguchi is a fighter coming into his prime however for many fans outside of Japan he is remembered solely as one of Naoya Inoue's opponents. That description is a really unfair one and Taguchi is much more than just a fighter who lost the Japanese Light Flyweight title to Inoue and in fact he gave Inoue the toughest fight of his career so far. (Note-this is being published prior to the WBO Super Flyweight title fight between Inoue and Omar Andres Narvaez)
Firstly Taguchi is a former Rookie of the year, winning the Light Flyweight crown in 2007 with a win over Sho Nakazawa, secondly he is a former Japanese Light Flyweight champion, beating Yuki Sano for the belt. Thirdly he is a damned good fighter and the only man, so far, to have stopped Yu Kimura, the current Japanese Light Flyweight champion.
Although not the biggest puncher or the most intimidating fighter at 108lbs Taguchi is a very talented individual who is tough, fast, brave and more than capable of holding his own with almost anyone in the division. Aside from the loss to Inoue he has only been beaten once, by close decision against Msasyoshi Segawa, and been held to a draw by Masayuki Kuroda, a former world title challenger. He's no mug even if he's isn't the most well known fighter or the most imposing.
Coming forward Taguchi applies intelligent pressure, boxes well behind the jab at distance and on in the inside he shows a great variety of punches. Among his best weapons up close are his body shots which all but crippled former foe Sansadka Portsanapon in their 2009 contest. On the back foot he can be a sharp counter puncher though does seem to be notably happier going forward.
We suspect this could be a scrappy contest with Rossel trying to make things messy whilst Taguchi ploughs forward trying to out work and beat up the champion. The scrappiness will be the only thing that makes this even semi competitive at times, however Rossel knows the old tricks and will slowly but surely frustrate Taguchi who will be forced to show a number of things that we've not really had to see from him. At the end however we don't think the judges will be as kind to Rossel's spoiling as they have been in Peru and after 12 rounds Taguchi will likely be crowned a world champion. Although we think the bout will be scored widely in favour of the Japanese fighter we wouldn't be shocked if he finished the bout marked up and frustrated with possibly a cut or two from accidental headclashes.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.