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Taguchi confident vs Melindo

Japanese champion Ryoichi Taguchi believes movement will play a crucial role when he faces fellow titleholder Milan Melindo in their world light-flyweight unification fight on Dec. 31 in Tokyo.

“The midrange is dangerous,” Taguchi (26-2-2 with 12 KOs) told the Japan Times a few days ago after another intense workout a little mover a week before he risks his World Boxing Association 108-lb crown.

Melindo (37-2-2 with 13 KOs) is also staking his International Boxing Federation title in the scheduled 12-rounder at the New Ota City Gymnasium.

“If I can move the way I’ve planned, I can win,” said Taguchi, who is also a right-hander like the Cebu-based Filipino.

Japanese fight fans vividly remember Melindo for his shocking first-round KO of Akira Yaegashi last May in Tokyo to win the IBF diadem.

Taguchi, 31, feels he won’t allow Melindo to break the hearts of his countrymen when they square oiff on New Year’s Eve.

Melindo is just one of three reigning Filipino world champions. The two others are ALA Boxing stablemate Donnie Nietes and IBF super-fly ruler Jerwin Ancajas.

Like Taguchi, Melindo, 29, is neck-deep in training in the Queen City the past few weeks.

Team Melindo, also made up of chief trainer Edito Villamor and manager Michael Aldeguer, are heading to Tokyo tomorrow.

Known for his hard work, Melindo believes he will return home on New Year’s Day not only with the IBF belt strapped around his waist but with Taguchi’s head and WBA jewels stuffed inside his suitcase.