By Joe Koizumi
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Former WBO world challenger Masataka Taniguchi (12-3. 7 KOs), 105, barely won the JBC mandatory right against the national titlist in an eliminator as he survived a fifth round visit to the deck and earned a unanimous nod (77-74 twice, 78-74) over Kai Ishibashi (6-1, 6 KOs), 105, over eight hard-battled rounds on Saturday in Tokyo, Japan.
The southpaw Taniguchi had failed to win the WBO belt from Vic Salazar due to a unanimous decision loss this February, and then decided to pursue the Japanese national belt on his comeback trail. He persistently outpunched the previously unblemished hard-punching prospect exclusively to the breadbasket, which effectively weakened the less experienced Kai.