Masataka Taniguchi Uses his Power to Upset Wilfredo Mendez
This year in boxing has been filled with some of the biggest upsets on the championship stage. The minimumweight division is rearranged again following the upset stoppage by Masataka Taniguchi (15-3, 10ko) over WBO champion Wilfredo Mendez (16-2, 6ko).
HOW THEY ALMOST DID NOT FIGHT
Both fighters share a common enemy in current WBA ‘regular’ champion Victorio Saludar. In 2019, Taniguchi would lose to then WBO champion Saludar as Mendez was able to dethrone the Filipino champion.
This fight, from the start, was in jeopardy of not taking place at all. As an agreement could not be reached, sending the fight into a purse bid. The required minimum amount necessary to secure the fight ($80,000) was not picked up by either team. Thus, forcing a second purse bid with a lesser amount ($40,000) needed to secure the rights of promoting the fight.
Furthermore, the Japanese government restricted all foreigners from entering the country due to the COVID-19 Omicron variant. So things were looking very gloomy before these two even stepped into the ring.
THE SECOND TIME WAS A CHARM
Taniguchi very clearly learned from the first title fight. Here, his power was the key to victory. The number one contender fighting in front of the home crowd for the second time in a championship fight did not disappoint.
He immediately jumped on the Puerto Rican champion, landing hard punches, eventually dropping him to the canvas in the second round. The downward spiral for Mendez would continue as he would fight on before finally being subdued by the power of Taniguchi in the eleventh round.
The Japanese fighter not only took the title away from Mendez, but he is the first man to have stopped the former champion.
PLENTY OF OPTIONS FOR THE NEW CHAMPION
Taniguchi undoubtedly is happy after making an impressive statement. Moreover, he opens the door for some lucrative opportunities on the horizon.
As of the writing of this article, the boxing world awaits the results of Knockout CP Freshmart’s title defense against Robert Paradero on December 14. Taniguchi could fight the winner in a major unification bout. IBF champion Rene Mark Cuarto, who scored an upset earlier this year after dethroning Pedro Taduran on February 27, is also a target.
The WBC champion, Panya Pradabsri, who had an upset in 2020, will rematch Wanheng Menayothin in January 2022. Taniguchi can look in the direction of the winner in that fight as well. Finally, he could rematch Mendez but this time be on the receiving end of the lion’s share of the purse as champion.
Whatever the newly crowned champion decides, 2022 is certainly shaping up to be a must-see for the division.
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By: Garrisson Bland