Earlier today fights had the chance to see WBO Minimumweight title champion Masataka Taniguchi (16-3, 11) [谷口将隆] successfully retain his title, as he stopped hard hitting challenger Kai Ishizawa (10-2, 9) [石澤開] in 11 rounds at Korakuen Hall, and put on a career best performance, showing just how good the often under-rater champion is.
Prior to the men getting in the ring there had been drama with Ishizawa missing weight, significantly, yesterday, when he came in above not just the Minimumweight limit but also the Light Flyweight division. As a result he was forced to weigh in again today, just hours before the fight, and managed to make the agreed weight today. Whilst he did make the agreed limit today, there was question marks as to how much making that weight world take out of him, and whether he actually did it on purpose, just to avenge his first defeat.
When they were in the ring it was clear the men were on different levels to each other. From the off Taniguchi relied on his boxing skills, his movement, straight punches and control of distance. He looked sharp, and determined and really was putting together a great start whilst also thwarting Ishizawa's attacks, tying him up when he needed to and using his foot work to keep Ishizawa from setting himself.
In round 3 we saw some success for Ishizawa, in what was easily his best round of the fight as he upped his tempo, and pressed with more success. It was however a temporary moment in the bout and in round 4 Taniguchi resumed control, using his footwork, his upper body movement and his sharp crisp punches to control the action without taking many risks.
In round 6 we saw Taniguchi begin to press more, throwing more combinations and do more damage to Ishizawa, who was being forced to show his toughness against what was becoming a bit of a sustained and gradual beating. The beating for Ishizawa seemed to fire him up a bit in round 9, but it wasn't enough the turn the tide, and was more a last hurrah from Ishizawa who took sustained damage in round 10, and then 11 before the referee saved the younger man from any further punishment,
After the bout Taniguchi spoke about his performance, stating he wanted to "fight cool", added that he though Ishizawa missing weight wasn't deliberate, and seemed to tell the youngster that there was no need to apologise, and added that he wanted to partake in a world title double header with Watanabe Gym stablemate Hiroto Kyoguchi, in Kansai, in the future.
Taniguchi's promoter, Hitoshi Watanabe, stated "I'm glad that the match was established first. I'd like him to have a chance to play a match overseas as well as a defense match in Japan."
As for Ishizawa, he seemed fully aware he was the second best man here and admitted the referee had no choice but to stop it. Fully aware he was taking a beating and had no answer to Taniguchi's skills, movement, accuracy and ring craft.
Earlier today much of the hardcore boxing fan base, as well as the Japanese fan base, was focused on a show at the Kokugikan in Tokyo awaiting the return to a Japanese ring of the Monster Naoya Inoue. Prior to Inoue however there was another world title bout.
The world title bout saw Japanese local Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10) [谷口将隆] score a career best win and become the new WBO Minimumweight champion as he stopped Wilfredo Mendez (16-2, 6) in 11 rounds to dethrone the skilled Puerto Rican.
Coming in to the bout both men had serious questions to answer. For Taniguchi the question was whether or not he could win the big one. He had come up short in his three most notable bouts prior to this and was a worry among some fans in Japan that he just couldn't get over the line in his big fights. By the same token there was plenty of worries regarding Mendez's inactivity, given he hadn't fought in almost 2 years and had never fought in Asia before.
For those worrying about Taniguchi, their mind was to put ease early on as he controlled the distance for much of the first round, neutralising one of the big strengths of Mendez, who has long been a master at creating space, and using his jab. Mendez had moments through the first round, but he was certainly not controlling things like we'd seen from him in previous bouts. Taniguchi would then get another boost to his confidence as he dropped Mendez in round 2, from a hard straight left hand, showing his power was legitimate at world level.
To his credit Mendez got back to his feet, shook off the knockdown and looked composed when the bout resumed. Sadly for him however he was under pressure from round 4, as Taniguchi began to show his physical side. That was always something he had in his locked than Mendez didn't and it showed as he looked to impose his will on Mendez, making the defending champion work really hard to create space, burning energy and sapping his legs in the process. The pressure from Taniguchi wasn't always hugely effective, but it did it's job in taking the wind out of Mendez's legs, and gave him some counter opportunities at the same time. It also resulted in Mendez being deducted a point for holding in round 6 as he struggled to contain the pressure and determination of Taniguchi.
Being well behind Mendez knew he needed a big finish, and to his credit he tried. He had a fantastic round 8, using his crisp punches well to get Taniguchi's respect and he gritted his teeth to have strong rounds in the 9th and 10, but it came at a cost and he put a lot into those rounds, whilst being a very, very long way down.
In round 11 Taniguchi managed to hurt his man, who tried to get away and make space to clear his senses. Taniguchi however refused to let Mendez have the chance he needed, jumping on him and unloading on him, until the referee was forced to step in and save Mendez, 78 seconds into round 11.
At the time of the stoppage Mendez was the one needing a KO. He was done 97-91 on two cards and 95-93 on the other.
On Saturday night Vic Saludar (19-4, 10) saw his reign as the WBO Minimumweight champion come to an end, as he was widely out pointed by mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (14-1, 5) in Puerto Rico.
The talented Saludar, who had won and defended the title in Japan, found himself in with a stylistic nightmare as Mendez, a talented though sometimes negative, fighter neutralised him with movement, skills and intelligence.
It was rare for Saludar to have any sustained success, though he did in round 5 when he dropped the Puerto Rican in what was his best round. Sadly though that was never going to be enough and after 12 rounds it was clear he hadn't done enough to retain his title, at least not on foreign soil. Instead the decision went to Mendez, with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.
For Mendez this was a huge step up in class, and sees Puerto Rico taking another world title, in fact he becomes the third Puerto Rican to hold the WBO Minimumweight title. Sadly for Saludar the bout ends his reign and also ends talk of a prospective unification bout with WBA champion Knockout CP Freshmart, which had been mooted in the Thai press in July.
Mendez may have taken the win though we do suspect he now has a target on his back, due to his style and lack of power. We wouldn't be at all surprised to see some notable prospects from the Asia region begin to target Mendez, who is a talented fighter, but a much less dangerous champion than Saludar.
The first world title fight on Japanese soil in 2019 took place earlier today at the Korakuen Hall as the WBO Minimumweight champion Vic Saludar (19-3, 10) faced off against Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi (11-3, 7) [谷口 将隆]. As expected the fight was a hotly contested and fierce one, with both men landing big shots through out, despite being well contested, it ended in a rather clear win for Saludar who seemed to have that extra experience and know how.
Reports from ringside stated that both men looked to land their back hand early on, with Saludar looking to land right hands and Taniguchi looking for left hands. It was Saludar who seemed to get better of those early exchanges before he managed to create distance began to fight well at mid-range, something that Taniguchi couldn't match him at. Fighting at range and grabbing the bout by the neck was smart, given the huge reach advantage that Saludar had.
Taniguchi began to cut the distance in round 5 and had notable success in the middle rounds, clearly taking round 7 and seemingly doing enough to take round 8 as well.
Whilst Taniguchi had been turning the momentum in his favour his sustained success were short lived and it wasn't long until Saludar would take control again, taking the final rounds as his more proven stamina, and ring craft proving to be the difference.
By the end of the bout that no real doubt over who had won, with Japanese fans ringside all suggesting their man hadn't done enough, and that proved to be the case with the judges scoring the bout to Saludar with scores of 118-110, 117-111, twice.
The win sees Saludar scoring his first defense, and building on his great win from last year over Ryuya Yamanaka. For Taniguchi however this is a third loss, a third decision loss, and he really will need to work incredibly hard to earn another world title fight following this defeat.
Back in 2015 fight fans saw Vic Saludar (18-3, 10) put himself on the boxing map as he droped the then WBO Minimumweight champion Kosei Tanaka, before being stopped himself whilst up on the card in Japan. Today Saludar return to the Land of the Rising Sun and took on Ryuya Yamanaka (16-3, 5) [山中 竜也] for the same title that he had pushed Tanaka so hard for. This time however things were different and it was Saludar taking home the gold after a career defining win over the Japanese slickster.
The fight started quickly from Yamanaka, who looked to make an immediate impact and catch the eyes of the judge's in the opening few moments, After doing that however the bout then slowed to a near standstill for the final minute of the opening round as both fighters stood off each other and looked for opening, but found none. The bout did then move up a level as Yamanaka showed his speed and skills as he countered the challenger and looked like the world champion had schooled Moises Calleros earlier this year. The confidence of the champion grew in round 2 as he engaged in a war on the inside, a war that he seemed to win with body shots and volume. It seemed like a smart game plan from Yamanaka, to get inside and work away on Saludar, who couldn't get the leverage his power needed up close.
Saludar seemed to realise that the inside battle wasn't going to be the best for him and in round 4 started to back off and disengage, forcing Yamanaka to work harder to get inside, and eat some counters on the way in. It was a tactic that worked even better for Saludar in round 5, as he landed some very solid body shots and left Yamanaka looking second best through the full round. It wasn't until round 6 that Yamanaka would manage to get inside again, and the two men spent the final 90 seconds of the round trading blows in round of the fight. It again showed that Yamanaka was the better man up close, with Saludar lacking the power to get Yamanaka's respect.
Unfortunately for Yamanaka he wasn't able to cut the distance particularly well as and when he wanted to, and that showed in round 7 when he was caught by a full blooded Saludar right hand, that send him down. The Japanese fighter recovered to his feet but was still clearly hurt when he got up. Saludar could smell blood and went hunt, chasing Yamanaka, and would twice wrestle him to canvas as Yamanaka survied the round. Although the defending champion had surrived there was still danger and he didn't look like he had recovered as we headed into round 8. The round saw Yamanaka avoid a fight as much as he could. Saludar brought the pressure through the round but could never land a huge shot to see off Yamanaka, who managed to clear his head through the round.
The 9th round saw a recovered Yamanaka try to box with Saludar. It was a tactic that worked at times, with Yamanaka landing several solid right hands, but it left him open to Saludar's power and the challenger landed a very notable right hand, that had it connected the previous round would likely have spelled game over for Yamanaka. It was clear that Yamanaka was behind and in roudn 10 he did what had worked so well for him earlier in the fight, he got inside and worked the body. It was an effective tactic and at one point it did seem like Saludar's legs wobbled. Round 11 followed a similar pattern to the 10th, with Yamanaka getting in close an working, but it ended with Saludar creating some distance late an landing some of the better shots of the round.
Saludar seemed to feel like he was in a comfortable lead and boxed very smartly in round 12. He let Yamanake come to him, whilst he jabbed and moved, landing clean head shots on Yamanaka, who's face ended up half caked in his own blood. It was a brilliant round from Saludar who took next to no risks and took the round through pure skill and ring craft.
Going to the scorecards we felt Saludar had done enough, as did the fighter himself, and the judges agreed, with scores of 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112 all in favour of the new champion Vic Saludar.
For the Saludar family this is a great boost and comes just weeks before Vic's brother Froilan Saludar battles Sho Kimura for the WBO Flyweight title. Sadly for Yamanaka it spells the end of his reign after just a single successful defense.
Last year Japanese boxing had some genuinely great stories, such as that of Sho Kimura, who came out of nowhere to claim the WBO Flyweight title by stopping Zou Shiming. Another was 22 year old Ryuya Yamanaka (16-2, 5), who claimed the WBO Minimunweight title with a very hard fought win over Tatsuya Fukuhara to put his name on the map.
Although he won the title last year Yamanaka was still somewhat of an unknown, and lacked the wider attention that many other Japanese world champions were getting. Today however he made a statement, and opened the eyes of many as he dominated the very solid Moises Calleros (28-8-1, 16), and forced the Mexican to retire after round 8.
Yamanaka looked sharp as a tack from the opening round. He was quick, smart and beating Calleros to the punch. Not only was he landing his own shots regularly but he wasn't taking much return fire, with Calleros looking slow, clumsy and awkward.
The success of Yamanaka continued from round 1, to round 2 and then grow round after round. He not only showed he could box and move, as he began to show incredible variation in his work. Standing his ground and countering, slipping shots just outside the pocket, and pressing Calleros who seemed to begin questioning himself very early on.
By round 4 it looked like Yamanaka's only problem's could be that he might slow down, or that he could be caught by a single bit shot. But he looked so relaxed, so calm and so confident that neither of those things looked likely. Instead he seemed to to just build on what he was doing, landing some more telling right hands up top, nasty uppercuts and hurtful body blows. There no answer from Calleros who was looking a like a fighter who simply hadn't got a game plan for Yamanaka or his movement.
Going into round 8 the bout looked a foregone conclusion, but given Calleros' toughness and Yamanaka's relative lack of power it looked like we'd be going the distance. Surprisingly however Yamanaka hurt Calleros, and then went on the hunt, picking the challenger apart with accurate and hard shots. Calleros looked like a spent fighter, out of ideas and out of energy and both fighters knew it. Yamanaka went for the finish but couldn't find it in the ring. It wasn't to matter however as Calleros retired in his corner following the round.
With the win Yamanaka legitimised his reign almost instantly, and whilst he is the newest of the world champions at 105lbs he looks to be the most pure boxer at the top of the division and could be the divisional dark horse given how sensational he looked here.
Earlier todaty fight fans in Kumamoto saw a WBO Minimumweight title fight, though sadly for the fans their local hero Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-5-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] was unable to retain the title, as he was out pointed by fellow Japanese fighter Ryuya Yamanaka (15-2, 4) [山中 竜也] in an incredibly competitive bout.
Straight away there was little to separate the two men, with Fukuhara being the more aggressive, and Yamanaka being the better mover, using his legs well to create some space and work at range. Round after round the action was nip and tuck, with neither fighter being able to clearly get contol of the action.
Although the scores weren't publically announced the score cards were 39-37, 38-38 and 37-39 after 4 rounds, showing just how hard it was to split the men, and just how close the bout was in the early stages.
During the middle rounds Yamanaka managed to do enough to take the lead on two of the cards, drawing mistakes from Fukuhara and catching the judges eye with his work, to take a 77-75 lead one two cards, whilst the other had the bout 76-76.
Although it was still a close contest it did just feel like Yamanaka had that little bit extra into the final rounds, and that showed on two of the cards, as he swept rounds 9, 10 and 11, establishing a the lead on all 3 rounds going into the final round. A lead that he refused to give up.
At the final bell it was as if both men felt they could have done enough, but all 3 judges sided with the challenger, scoring the bout 116-112, and 115-113, twice, for Yamanaka.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Jut over 3 years ago Tatsuya Fukuhara (19-4-6, 7) [福原 辰弥] was being beaten by a debuting Takuma Inoue, today however he find himself the new WBO “interim” Minimumweight champion, following a split decision win over Mexican warrior Mexican Moises Calleros (25-7-1, 14). He also finds himself a local hero in Kumamoto and perhaps the most improved boxer of the last few year.
Today he got his big chance, battling against the aggressive and exciting Calleros, and he took that chance showing his skills, toughness and desire to over-come the Mexican.
From the opening moments it was clear that these two were brilliantly well matched with Fukuhara trying to box and move, whilst Calleros came in looking for a fight. The styles clicked immediately action was captivating for the fans in the arena. It was a truly great back an forth, and one where the judges were deciding whether it was the rounded boxing, and the skills on the back foot from Fukuhara or the aggression and pressure of the Mexican.
Through the first 6 rounds there was very little to pick between the two men, though it did seem that, in round 7, Fukuhara got a break though. The Japanese fighter suffered a cut from a headclash but fired back and landed a nasty southpaw left hand to the body that seemed to slow down the Mexican who was again forced to take a solid body attack in round 9 with Fukuhara seemingly finding a new tool in his arsenal.
That body attack became the key to Fukuhara's gameplan in the later rounds as he managed to low Calleros down and back him up, whilst showing his incredible will to win and doing enough to take the narrow decision, with scores of 116-112 and 116-112 which over-ruled a score of 115-113 in favour of Calleros
With the win Fukuhara became the first boxer from a Kumamoto gym to win a world title, even if it is “just” and interim title, and also secured himself a potentially lucrative bout with Katsuunari Takayama later in the year, with the two men set to fight in the next 180 days. Sadly the bout wasn't aired on major TV in Japan, nor was it featured on an online service such as Boxingraise or Asign,but hopefully Fukuhara will earn his chance to impress a wider audience next time out. As for Calleros the loss will be a hard one, but he's certainly a man who can come again with his exciting and committed aggression, which will also go down well with fans.
(Image courtesy of https://boxmob.jp)
1Boxing, at it's best, is an incredible sport, a sport that has drama, excitement and a human tale. Sadly at it's worst it's a mess that is decided by something that feels unsatisfactory. Be that a poor decision from judges that appear to have not been watching the action or by an injury caused by an unintentional incident in the ring.
Sadly today we had one of those unintentional incidents curtailing what had looked like a brilliant WBO Minimumweight title bout between teenager Riku Kano (10-2-1, 5) and war torn veteran Katusnari Takayamo (31-8-0-1, 12). Not only did the incident curtail the bout but it left a disappointing taste in the mouth of all involved, including the winner, who was distraught at the conclusion of the action.
The bout started well with an intriguing first round that began as a feeling out round but heated up well with both men managing to get into their groove in the late stages. When the fighters were in full swing Kano was finding a home for his eye catching left hand whilst Takayama was looking to turn the fight into a brawl, knowing that the style would favour him and his style.
Having warmed up Takayama began to run through the gears in round 2 as he put Kano under pressure. The youngster coped well, landing a number of eye catching counters, but was certainly under pressure with Takayama ending the round well with his movement and aggression befotre throwing his hands up to the crowd to celebrate.
Sadly that previously mentioned injury occurred early in round 3 when a clash of heads left Takayama with a nasty cut over the left eye. The eye, which had been cut several times during the course of Takayama's long and thrilling career, didn't look like it was an immediately bad cute but it was in some well known scar tissue of Takayama's and was a clear target for Kano's straight.
The cut forced a sense of urgency in Takayama who went all out to try and defeat Kano, speeding up the pressure and forcing Kano on to the back foot. The counters were still coming from the youngster but they were fewer than they had been earlier in the fight whilst Takayama was clearly upping the ante. Kano tried to do what he could to slow Takayama, both fighting back and holding, but the veteran wasn't to be denied the round making sure to end it really well.
Takayama's high pressure and output continued in to round 4 as the veteran looked to take a march on the score-cards. The cut, didn't seem like it would be immediately fight ending but it was certainly getting worse and with Takayama's style it seemed like a ticking time bomb, especially given that the bout would need 4 completed rounds to get a result. Despite the cut Takayama was now bullying Kano around the ring and landed a brilliant right hand near the bell putting the youngster fully on the back foot and into the defensive.
Takayama's relentless assault continued to begin round 5 before he got on his toes and showed a spring in his step, almost taunting the youngster. That dancing however didn't last long as a left hand from Kano got through. The left hand should have been a moment of notable success for Kano however Takayama took the shot and quickly cornered Takayama unloading a ferocious assault. Kano saw out the attack and thwarted Takayama's offensive foray. Takayama's offensive foray was followed by another and it was obvious that the veteran was piling up the rounds with his work rate.
Round 6 started much like the others, with Takayama on the front foot. Kano however seemed to have his successes in the opening 30 seconds with Takayama walking on to shots as Kano used clever movement to open up some space. That space was quickly taken away from the youngster with Takayama putting his foot on to the gas. Sadly however the time-bomb on Takayama's face was going off and blood oozed down his face forcing the referee to take him over to the doctor who took a few moments before ending the bout.
With the bout over Takayama was in tears, looking like a man who had lost everything. He seemed to feel that he had been stopped due to the cut, almost as if he didn't realise the stoppage was caused by a clash of heads and not a punch. The tears, which contained a lot of blood, showed what the bout had meant to him and it looked almost like he was ready to walk away from the sport. Although Takayama was confused on the ending the referee wasn't, telling the judges to “score the round”, making it clear that the fight ending cut was from the clash of heads in round 3.
After a few moments wait we finally saw the cards being read with Takayama's arm being raised, giving him the beginning of another title reign, his 5 if you include his reign as the WBC “interim” champion. For Kano however it was heart break, his plan of taking the old man down late had been destroyed by the cut and the way it had inspired the warrior spirit in the veteran.
The loss sees Kano missing out on the Japanese record of the youngest world champion, but we wouldn't be surprised to see him coming again, potentially in a rematch later this year. His goal of breaking the 29 year record of Hiroki Ioka may have failed but this isn't the last we'll see of the Taisei fighter who still has a long and successful future ahead.
For those interested in the particular,s the cards read 59-59, 59-56 and 58-56 all to Takayama.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
As we all know 2015 is coming to an end, however to end the year boxing fans get 5 world title fights in Japan. The first of those happened earlier today in Aichi where fans saw a WBO Minimumweight thriller between Kosei Tanaka (6-0, 3) and Vic Saludar (11-2, 9).
The fight started fast with Tanaka looking the more polished, faster and intelligent fighter, however Saludar took the shots well, mostly on the guard, and looked like the sort of strong and tough fighter who was going to take a lot to stop. He also looked very dangerous every time he let his hands go, though did struggle to land much of note. It was a round where Tanaka's movement and speed were his key weapons.
The challenger may not have shined in round 1, but he did in round 2 as he gave Tanaka absolute hell. Tanaka gave away his advantages in footspeed and decided to trade on the inside which was a foolish game plan giving Saludar a chance to use his strength and power up close and prove that he wasn't there to just make up the numbers, he was instead there to become a world champion. The success of the challenger continued in round 3 where he finished the stronger man and left Tanaka with a bloodied nose and left fans wondering why Tanaka was continuing to to brawl with a brawler.
The in fighting continued in round 4, a pretty even and exciting round, and again in round 5, a round in which Saludar's power finally told as he dropped Tanaka with an very solid right hand. It was the first knockdown of Tanaka's career and came from as much from his wrecklessness as it did from Saludar's power, as he left himself wide open. Whilst Tanaka was to blame for the knockdown he was up quickly, at the count of 5, and showed his survival skills to see out the round.
By the following round it seemed like Tanaka had recovered his senses, but not his pure boxing, and instead of boxing and moving he continued to apply the pressure and force a fight on the inside. Although, still, fighting the wrong type of fight he did quickly find a home for his left hand into the body of Saludar. The Filipino continued to fight back, but was, eventually, caught by a peach that dropped the Filipino for the count.
It's fair to say that Saludar was over-looked by Tanaka, who was seemingly looking beyond him, towards a move to Light Flyweight. It was however a mistake to do so and it almost cost him, whilst also showing up the champion as a fighter who still has real maturing to do. He needs to get back to what he's good at, which is out boxing, being speedy and not brawling. In fairness to Saludar however, there is a good chance he will have a title reign in the future.
(Image courtesy of Nikkan Sports)
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.