THERE was no reason to celebrate coming into the New Year for Milan Melindo as the Filipino failed in his bid to unify the junior world flyweight titles after losing a unanimous decision against Ryoichi Taguchi at the Ota City general gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan Sunday night.
Both fighters were left bloodied at the end of the 12-round bout, but Taguchi used his long range and height advantage to win the judges' nod by scores of 116-112 (Gustavo Jarquin of Nicaragua), 117-111 (Francis Jackson of the U.S), and 117-111 (Ignacio Robles of Panama).
Taguchi, the reigning World Boxing Association (WBA) champion, has now added the International Boxing Federation (IBF) version of the title following the win.
The unified champion raised his record to 27-2 with 12 KOs. He hasn’t lost since 2013 after a unanimous decision against reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-flyweight champion and compatriot Naoya Inoue.
Melindo suffered the third loss of his career and fell to 37-3 with 13 KOs.
The 29-year-old Filipino, fighting out of Cebu-based ALA boxing gym, won the earlier rounds as he punished Taguchi with several body shots to set the tempo of the bout.
But the Japanese began to utilize his reach beginning in the middle round to turn the tide in his favor.
Melindo was left nursing cuts on both eyebrows, while Taguchi had blood flowing from a cut on his forehead by the end of the fight.