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Melindo loses IBF crown

WBA light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (R) of Japan fights with IBF light flyweight champion Milan Melindo (L) of Philippines (Toru YAMANAKA / AFP)

WBA light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (R) of Japan fights with IBF light flyweight champion Milan Melindo (L) of Philippines (Toru YAMANAKA / AFP)

By Nick Giongco

Banking on his height and reach advantage, Ryoichi Taguchi ruined Milan Melindo’s plans on New Year’s Eve as the Japanese carved out a 12-round unanimous decision in Tokyo.

The 5-foot-5 Taguchi won on the scorecards of American Francis Jackson and Panamian Igancio Robles, 117-111 and Nicarguan Gustavo Jarqin, 116-112, in a unification light-flyweight bout staged at the Ota City Gymnasium.

Taguchi, the World Boxing Association 108-lb champion, thus annexed Melindo’s International Boxing Federation belt in the process.

Melindo, shorter by at least four inches, started strong but Taguchi quickly recovered and almost swept the second half of the 12-rounder.

The fight was bloody as the two often clashed heads during heated exchanges with Melindo sustaining cuts on his eyebrows and Taguchi getting wounded on his forehead.

The win boosted Taguchi’s record to 28-2-2 with 12 KOs while the loss dropped Melindo’s mark to 37-4 with 13 KOs.

Melindo also slowed down considerably later in the fight, enabling Taguchi to pile up points en route to the verdict.

According to Japanese all-boxing man Joe Koizumi, who dabbles in matchmaking and boxing writing, US referee Mark Nelson controlled the action-packed fight.

Melindo’s loss leaves the Philippines with just two reigning world champions in Donnie Nietes and Jerwin Ancajas, who risks his IBF super-fly crown on Feb. 3 in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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