MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Filipino boxer Milan Melindo was gracious in defeat after "El Metodico" relinquished his IBF light-flyweight crown to Japan's Ryoichi Taguchi on New Year's Eve in Tokyo.
Melindo memorably won the IBF belt – his first world title – back in May after a one-round demolition of Japan's Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo. He successfully defended it once, against Hekkie Budler, in September.
In his return to Tokyo, Melindo was unable to duplicate his triumph. He was outpointed by Taguchi in a bloody title-unification bout, with the Japanese getting the nod of all three judges – 116-112, 117-111, 117-111.
While the loss was obviously disappointing, the Melindo camp had no complaints.
"We lost to a better fighter last night," tweeted Edito Villamor, the head coach of ALA Promotions fighters.
"It was a great fight," he added.
Despite his loss, Melindo still had a superb campaign in 2017, as he finally achieved his goal of becoming a world champion after failing in his first two tries.
His showdown against Budler was also well-received, as Melindo battled through bloody cuts to earn a split decision victory and retain his belt.
After Sunday's result, Melindo now has a record of 37 wins with three losses.
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