By Joe Koizumi
Lanky Japanese speedster Ryoichi Taguchi (27-2-2 12 KOs), 107.75, unified the WBA and IBF 108-pound belts when he displayed a late surge to pound out a unanimous decision over Filipino Milan Melindo (37-3, 13 KOs), 107.5, twelve hard-fought gory rounds on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. The official tallies were as follows—Gustavo Jarquin (Nicaragua) 116-112, Francis Jackson (US) and Ignacio Robles (Panama) both 117-111, all in favor of Taguchi. The referee was Mark Nelson (US) who handled the fast-paced unification bout very well.
The WBA ruler Taguchi had a tough time coping with the shorter but sharper IBF titlist in earlier rounds, but the Japanese almost swept the second half by utilizing his advantageous height and reach. They often made head collisions to see Melindo bleeding from gashes over both eyebrows and Taguchi from a cut on the forehead. In later rounds, Melindo was visibly fading and slowing down only to have Taguchi take the initiative to pile up important points down the stretch.
WBA supervisor: Renzo Bagnariol (Nicaragua).
IBF supervisor: Anibal Miramontes (US).
(More to come)