Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2 12 KOs) unified the WBA and IBF 108-pound belts when he displayed a late surge to earn a unanimous decision over Filipino Milan Melindo (37-3, 13 KOs).
The official scorecards were as follows—Gustavo Jarquin (Nicaragua) 116-112, Francis Jackson (US) and Ignacio Robles (Panama) both 117-111, all in favor of Taguchi.
Taguchi had a tough time coping with the shorter but sharper Filipino in the earlier rounds, but the WBA champion all but swept the second half by utilizing his height and reach. Head butts were an issue at times in the fight as Melindo was bleeding from gashes over both eyebrows. Taguchi suffered a cut on the forehead.
In later rounds, Melindo was visibly fading and slowing down as Taguchi took the initiative to pile up important points down the stretch. It’s unclear who’s next for the Japanese star especially after a hopeful bout with Kosei Tanaka was originally discarded due to Tanaka suffering fractures to his orbital bones and now has vacated his WBO title to move up to the flyweight division.
By: Chris Henderson