Come New Year’s Eve, both IBF world light flyweight champion Milan “El Metodico” Melindo (37-2-0, 13KOs) and WBA world light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi (26-2-2, 12KOs) will get a crack at unifying both titles for the first time when they face each other for an IBF/WBA unification title in Japan.
While the fight could go as just another one of Taguchi’s title defenses, it could very well bring Melindo a step closer to his goal of dominating the 108-lb. division.
Having held the WBA strap since 2014, the Japanese world champion has successfully defended his title six times, with 5 wins and a draw against the undefeated Carlos Canizales of Venezuela. Taguchi has also been undefeated since 2013.
Melindo, on the other hand, had just won the IBF title from Taguchi’s fellow countryman, Akira Yaegashi, in May of this year. After falling short of two previous world title matches against Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 and Javier Mendoza in 2015, Melindo delivered an impressive 1st round TKO win in front of a Japanese-dominated audience in Tokyo.
By September of the same year and barely four months after, Melindo took on and won – via split decision- over two-division world champion Hekkie Budler as his first title defense.
During simultaneous press conferences held in the Philippines and Japan last November 17, both Melindo and Taguchi expressed their excitement in the upcoming fight.
In a report published on www.japantimes.co.jp, Kyodo News quoted Taguchi saying, “I want a resounding win that will make this card an amazing one.”
For his part, 29-year old Melindo continues to prepare for this huge match before he and his team leave for Japan on Dec. 26th. “I am confident with my training after my fight with Budler,” the Cagayan-native Melindo shared. “I am very happy I’ve been given this fight, because this is what I’ve been waiting for. I want to go down in history as the undisputed light flyweight king. Although I know Taguchi will not be an easy opponent, I will do what I can to make sure I put up a good fight, so I could win.”
“I still have two more belts to go after,” he added, referring to the WBO and WBC titles currently held by Puerto Rican Angel Acosta and Japanese Ken Shiro respectively.
The Melindo-Taguchi IBF/WBA unification title is set on Dec. 31st at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.