To close the month of February in the Philippines we got a rare All-Filipino world title bout as the defending IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-3-1, 11) clashed with the unheralded Rene Mark Cuarto (19-2-2, 11). The bout was an interesting one going in, with Taduran having a reputation for his heavy hands and pressure and Cuarto being a talented boxer, but a man taking a big step up in class.
Early on it was the boxing of Cuarto that was the key, with the challenger boxing really well on the back foot. Cuarto seemed fully aware that having a firefight with Taduran in the middle of the ring wasn't going to be a good idea, and instead moved, boxed, and picked his spots, landing some brilliant uppercuts as Taduran came in. It was the boxing, counter punching and movement of Cuarto that allowed him to control the pressure of Taduran, and the clean, crisp, combinations that Cuarto landed allowed him to catch the eye and rack up the rounds.
From the early part of the fight it was round 3 that really got the blood flowing, with Taduran being tagged hard by a Cuarto counter in a thrilling exchange, Cuarto pressed forward himself at one point during the round, before Taduran tried to finish with a strong rally. It was a brilliant round but it was another that showed the obvious skill level of Cuarto, which was higher than that of Taduran.
After 6 rounds it seemed the challenger was comfortably in the lead, but that was only half the task and Taduran wasn't in the ring to hand over his title, or to change tactics, as he kept coming forward. No matter what Cuarto landed Taduran came on, and came on. And had limited success until round 7, when he shook Cuarto to his knees. The challenger was suddenly in trouble, and was clearly hurt for almost a minute of the round, before regrouping, surviving what was left of the round and seeing his way to his corner. He was hurt again in round 8 as Taduran's pressure began to find more and more cracks in Cuarto's resistance.
To his credit Cuarto didn't panic, he didn't worry and he didn't seem to doubt himself. Instead he began to spoil, create distance and try to kill the momentum that Taduran was building. He knew he had to survive, and that's what he was doing, despite being rocked again at the end of round 9. He knew he was in the lead, he knew he only needed to win one of the late rounds and he knew that this was his bout to lose.
Sadly round 10 saw the stream fall apart, though when we were back in round 11 we saw an exciting round, as Taduran continued to try and march forward, hunting a stoppage and Cuarto turned into a seasoned veteran, trying to old man Taduran. He was walking around the ring, landing single shots and getting on his toes. It wasn't the most appealing style at times from Cuarto, but it was exactly what he needed.
Cuarto's toughness and determination saw him surviving round 12 as well, despite looking tired at times and being rocked, again. It was clear he could be hurt, but he was not going to be stopped. Not today, this was his day.
After 12 rounds we went to the scorecards, and it was clearly a close fight, with Cuarto dominating the early rounds with his clean boxing, good movement, and accurate punching, then Taduran coming on strong in the second half. The scorecards reflected the close nature of the bout, with all 3 judges turning in identical 115-113 scorecards. Unfortunately for Taduran they didn't side with him, instead going with Cuarto who's early success saw him do enough to take the title and become the new IBF Minimumweight champion.
Sadly for Taduran this ends a reign that started with a lot promise, following a sensational win over Samuel Salva, though never really got going, due in part to Covid19. As for Cuarto this is a career defining win, and he looked much, much better than the man who lost to the aforementioned Salva in early 2019.
The final big fight of the weekend saw us shifting our focus to Mexico to see IBF Minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1, 11) face off with Daniel Valladares (22-2-1, 13). This had the potential to be something very special, with both men being willing to let their hands go and fight.
Sadly the bout failed to truly live up it's potential, but it did end up being a fight well worthy of a watch, with 2 brilliantly matched fighters involved in it.
From the opening round it was clear that Taduran hadn't travelled with losing on his mind, and set a high tempo from the opening bell. On the other hand the more technically skilled Valladares looked to create room and space to work with, but it was the pressure of Taduran which seemed to catch the eye, and he seemed to rock the challenger once or twice before the round was over.
Notably the major talking point from the opening 3 minutes wasn't actually a punch, but instead a big accidental headclash that left Valladares badly cut on his right eye. The cut essentially meant that the bout wasn't going to go 12, unless miracles could be done by his corner.
Despite being cut Valladares fought a smart second round and began to control the distance better, limiting Taduran's raids along the way. It was just what the challenger needed to give his cut time to heal.
In round 3 the touch paper was lit, with both men putting their foot on the gas and letting their shots go more freely. The increase in action saw both men having moments as we began to see more and more frequent back and forth fighter, in what an excellent round. It seemed like Valladares may have just sneaked it, but it was close either way and set the platform for an intense and thrilling round 4 that saw almost none stop trading from the two men. This was a sensational round, with both wanting to make a statement.
Sadly the bout was curtailed after the 4th round to the cut, which had become uncontrollable and was covering Valldares' face with claret, and we went to the judges scorecards early. One of the 3 wise men gave the bout to Valledares, but thankfully he was over-ruled by the other 2 judges who both gave the bout to Taduran, who retains his title with a 4th round technical draw.
Given how exciting the bout was, and how it was really warming up when we hit the premature conclusion, we would love to see a rematch here, for both men. However we wouldn't be surprised if both ended ups going in different directions.
In 2018 we had 2 All Filipino world title fights and, if we're being, they were both really underwhelming and won't be remembered for long. Today we had another, and today's the polar opposite as we had an all action contest with Pedro Taduran (14-2, 11) and Samuel Salva (17-1, 10) trading blows for the IBF Minimumweight title.
Taduran, getting his second world title fight, fought all out with an aggressive mentality. In the opening round that was a tactic that left many questioning what he was doing, as the more technically well schooled Salva countered him regularly with right hands. Salva's defensive skills and counter punching made it seem like he had the answer to Taduran's southpaw stance and pressure.
The second round saw Taduran tweak his tactics slightly, changing from coming forward behind his southpaw left hand to using his right hook. Despite the change Salva still seemed to get the better of it, though Taduran certainly had some moments.
Taduran continued to press, intently, in round 3. Early in the round he paid for it, again, as Salva landed a number of big right hands, however Taduran just refused to back off. Instead of backing up and reconsidering his gameplan Taduran just continued to charge forward and and quickly pinned Salva on the ropes, working away, and hurting his man. Salva never really recovered and quickly put in survival mode whilst Taduran jumped on him, hunting the stoppage. To his credit Salva showed bravery and toughness, but Taduran just refused to give him space to breath. Some how, and we really don't know how, Salva made it to the bell to get a minutes rest.
That minute wasn't long enough and when the fight resumed in round 4 Taduran was again all over him, and forced Salva to resort to headbutting to try and survive. The headbutts were caught by the referee who took a point from Salva in round 4. That really didn't matter and Taduran continued to beat his man up to the bell.
Having taken 2 rounds of serious punishment and seemingly running on fumes Salva remained in his corner at the end of round 4, not coming out for the 5th.
With this win Taduran becomes the latest Filipino world champion whilst it's back to the drawing board for Salva, who lost his unbeaten record here, and took real damage. Salva is still young enough to bounce back, and is still very skilled, but needs to add a lot to his game if he's to reach the top. He also needs to hope this hasn't damaged long term, as it was pretty sustained damage for 6 minutes.
We have often applauded fighters for chasing history, it's why we have been to vocal in our support of fighters like Naoya Inoue and Kosei Tanaka. Of course historical achievements can questioned, such as a fighter who wins a serious of vacant titles or a fighter who pads their record, but it's nice to see fighters do historical things. We mention that as today WBC Minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin (51-0, 18) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] notched his 10th defense and over-came gallant Filipino Pedro Taduran (12-2, 9) to move to 51-0.
Now whilst Wanheng's achievement isn't actually a record, a number of fighters have had better starts to their career, it is potentially setting the stage for history as he has now surpassed the 50-0 record of Floyd Mayweather Jr, who holds the most statistically impressive unbeaten record of any retired world champion. A record that would end tomorrow if Wanheng decided to retire following today's win.
The fight saw Taduran getting into Wanheng's face from the off, with his pressure being impressive straight away. Sadly for the challenger Wanheng's defense and counter punching was equal to the aggression and pressure of the challenger with the champion often landing clean crisp counter shots that caught the eye in the opening round. In the second round both men increased their output, giving us a thrilling round of none stop action, and it seemed like they had both agreed that they would go for a stoppage win with one of the rounds of the year. The round however took a toll on both men and both seemed to slow down in the rounds that followed. Despite the slow down the pattern of the bout during the other early rounds continued, with Taduran pressing and Wanheng countering, with some eye catching and solid shots.
It was a case of accuracy over work rate, and the judges seemed to take Wanheng's side after 4 rounds, scoring the contest 40-36, twice, and 39-37 in favour of the Thai.
The bout continued to slow in the middle rounds, which appeared to suit the more technically solid Wanheng. Taduran still had some solid moments, particularly in round 6 when he managed to get off some solid body shots on the inside and backed Wanheng on to the ropes, but took some heavy punishment of his own. The challenger was also beginning to battle the referee who, very harshly, took a point from the Filipino for a low blow that really really didn't deserve a punishment of any kind. It was harsh certainly didn't help the challenger, but the judges did seem more impressed by him in the middle rounds, with the open scoring showing the scores of 78-74, twice, and 79-74. He was still well behind, but the judges were starting to give him more credit.
The 9th round was one of the most compelling. Wanheng seemed to win the first half of it, he landed some really nasty shots but part way through the round the referee adjusted the champions trunks. Following that Taduran seemed to sense something and let his shots go in a way we hadn't seen since round 2, it forced a response from Wanehng as the two began to trade. The intensity from Taduran continued in the early part of round 10, before Wanheng began to re-establish his control with his defense and clean counter shots.
The result was made a total formality in round 11 when the referee again got involved to the detriment of Taduran, deducting a point from the Filipino for leading with the head. He had been warned about it a number of times, but the deduction seemed harsh, especially given the previous deduction for low blows. It essentially put the bout to bed, despite being a good round for the challenger who showed his desire. Sadly his technical faults showed up and he still took some solid counters.
With the decision essentially in the bag Wanheng seemed happy to spoil and stall through the final round. Taduran, still wanting to win, fought hard but never looked like downing the champion, who held and complained and danced through much of the round.
The win for Wanheng seems him retain the gold and Petchyindee promotions will be happy that their man is still the champion, and has reached the marvellous mark of 51-0. They however will know their man will need to perform better if he intends to win a planned bout in Japan in December. Away from home he may not get the breaks given to him here. He would have still won with out the deductions, given the scores were 118-108, 115-111 and 117-110, but they would certainly have made things a lot more interesting going into the final few rounds.
For Taduran the shot did seem to come a little too early. Given another year or two of seasoning, some technical work on his offensive and balance, he could have potentially over-come Wanheng. Instead he'll have learned a lot in defeat, and will likely improve as a result. He will be wondering why there was a referee with next to know world title experience in the middle of the ring with him but the tough conditions in Thailand have given him a huge platform to build from. And he really did impress here, especially in the rounds when he upped the pace and really let his hands go.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.