To end 2015 Watanabe are hosting a world title double header, sadly however both of the title offerings are disappointing match ups with neither looking likely to be competitive.
In one of the bouts we're expecting to see Takashi Uchiyama record the 11th defense of his 130lb world title whilst the other is expected to see Ryoichi Taguchi (22-2-1, 9) easily retain his WBA Light Flyweight title, as he goes up against Colombia's limited Luis de la Rosa (25-4-1, 14).
The champion won the title exactly a year ago, when he defeated Peruvian veteran Alberto Rossel with a clear 12 round decision. Following that win he secured his first defense in May, stopping the experienced but over-matched Kwanthai Sithmorseng in 8 very one sided rounds and this bout with de la Rosa will be his second defense of the title.
Although relatively under-rated the Japanese fighter is widely regarded as one of the best fighters in the criminally over-looked Light Flyweight division. The weight class lacks a really big name, with Donnie Nietes arguably being the most well known fighter, but Taguchi is certainly hoping to change that, and change that he can do if he faces some of the top names in the division in 2016. That could mean bouts with Yu Kimura, who he does actually hold a win over, Randy Petalcorin, Rey Loreto, Pedro Guevara, Jonathan Taconing, Paipharob Kokietgym and Ryo Miyazaki, sadly however beating the likes of de la Rosa will not do his career any great good.
In the ring Taguchi is tough, in fact he's the only fighter to have heard the final bell against Naoya Inoue*, talented and improving quickly, with both his confidence and abilities becoming more notable. He's also very tall and rangy for a Light Flyweight standing at around 5'6” and boasting a 67” reach.
Taguchi uses his size well to box at range, he's accurate with his jab and straight, and can also hold his own inside throwing great uppercutts for such a tall fighter at his weight.
It is fair to say that Taguchi's not unbeatable but his only loss in the last 6 years came to Inoue, and in that bout Taguchi did have some genuine success in, over the 10 round distance. As with that loss it will take a very special fighter to beat Taguchi.
When we talk about special fighters we certainly don't mean Luis de la Rosa. The Colombian fighter's best result was a split decision loss to Raul Garcia, more than 5 years ago, and since then he has gone 10-4 with all 4 of those losses coming in his last 7 bouts. Not only has he lost those 4 bouts but he has, at times, looked very uncompetitive being blown out by both Alexis Diaz and Moises Fuentes inside a round, being stopped in 8 by Filipino Merlito Sabillo and losing a wide decision to Zou Shiming.
In the ring we know that de la Rosa isn't world class. He has fought world class fighters but has come up short against them and seems to have been a man who is fortunate that the world title bodies have so many titles available to fighters, and allow “top 15” fighters to get world title fights. In the real world however de la Rosa isn't top 15, nor is he really even top 25 with boxrec.com rating him way down in the 80's coming in to this bout.
On paper de la Rosa has a punchers record.The reality however is that he has been beating some terrible opposition such as Gustavo Cortes and Deivis Narvaez, both of whom he has beaten twice. The level of his wins, Colombian domestic level fighters, sadly says it all about the crude challenger.
If we're being honest we see this as a cross mismatch and would be shocked if Taguchi doesn't see off the challenger inside the distance, with a mid-round stoppage looking the most likely for the champion, who really needs to get a serious bout sorted for 2016 if he's to build on any potential fan base that he has. He has the skills to become a notable champion but now needs the bouts.
*Note-Inoue is set to fight between this being published and Taguchi's bout with de la Rosa, though at the time of writing Taguchi is the only man to have survived the distance with the Monster.
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.