Junior flyweight king Milan Melindo said he wants to end 2017 with a bang when he squares off with Japanese champion Ryoichi Taguchi in a title unification bout in Tokyo on New Year's Eve.
For Melindo, the fight is not just about defending his crown. He wants to set the record for becoming the first Filipino ever to unify two junior flyweight titles.
Melindo is the reigning IBF junior flyweight king while Taguchi holds the WBA’s version of the belt.
“Gusto kong masuklian ang tiwala ng mga supporters ko sa akin. Kasi kung sakali first time sa Pilipinas na magkakaroon ng unification sa timbang na ito,” said “El Metodico” in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
“First title defense ko ito sa Japan, sana maganda ang performance ko. New Year na New Year, doble celebration sana.”
Melindo is coming off a grueling bout against South Africa’s Hekkie Budler, whom he beat via split decision last September. An immediate rematch was ordered but the unification fight was allowed to take place first with Budler in line for a shot at the winner.
The Filipino champion currently has a record of 37 wins and 2 losses, while Taguchi has a 26-2-2 win-loss-draw record.
Coach Edito Villamor said they will have to thoroughly prepare Melindo since he is facing another world champion.
“Grabe ang durability ng mga Japanese fighters. In Asia sila ang may pinakamaraming world champion, Taguchi is one of them. Magaling, pero we'll prepare Melindo. Doble-triple ang preparation namin,” he said.
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