Milan Melindo lost his world light-flyweight belt to Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan in a title-unification bout in Tokyo, Japan Sunday night.
Taguchi won on all scorecards, with two judges tallying 117-111 and a third scoring the bout 116-112.
With the win, Taguchi kept his World Boxing Association title and took away Melindo's International Boxing Federation crown in the process.
While Melindo took the fight to Taguchi as any visiting fighter should, the constantly moving Taguchi took advantage of his length to connect on his jab and on several occasions proved to be deceptively durable amid the visitor's persistent attacks.
The 5-foot-2 Melindo, shorter by 3 inches than his opponent, almost solely focused on Taguchi's body, but the Japanese champion gamely absorbed the blows.
In the ninth, Taguchi sustained a glaring cut on his head. It was caused by what the referee ruled as an accidental head butt.
The action turned up a few notches from that point.
After working the jab, Taguchi started throwing more meaningful combinations that slowed down Melindo, the hits to the visitor's face resounding. Melindo, although winded, didn't buckle.
In the 11th, Melindo winced as he took a head to his already swollen left-eye area. He battled back and engaged Taguchi some more, but with an impaired eyesight Melindo couldn't do much to hurt Taguchi. At this point, Taguchi was in control.
In the 12th, blood started to gush out of the cut Melindo sustained on his right eye. The round ended with the two exhausted fighters trading blows but still standing on their feet.
The nature and outcome of the bout were a drastic departure from Melindo's last visit in Japan, but similar to his most recent bout.
In May, it took only 1 round for Melindo to stop Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo, to capture the IBF title.
In his first title defense in September, he went through the wringer, a bout against Hekkie Budler of South Africa that went the full 12 rounds. Melindo suffered bloody cuts on top of both his eyes before securing the split-decision win.
Melindo's loss to Taguchi was his 3rd professional career loss in 40 bouts.
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