Not a good 2017 ending for PH sports as Melindo loses IBF belt to Japanese foe

Ahead of 2018, Ryoichi Taguchi becomes a holder of three world titles at once. Naoki Fukuda/Ring Magazine (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Milan Melindo failed to give the Filipino sports fans something to cheer at the end of 2017 as he bowed to Ryoichi Taguchi for the IBF, WBA, and the vacant Ring Magazine light flyweight titles in Tokyo right on the last night of the year.

Cuts on both his eyebrows hampered Melindo's bid especially late in the fight as he had to give his IBF belt to Taguchi, the reigning WBA champ, in the unification bout.

Melindo did have a good start as he was able to get close to Taguchi despite the reach disadvantage, even giving him some late beating in Round 1.

Taguchi then caught fire in Round 3, putting his reach advantage to his good use and eventually opening the first cut on Melindo's left eye.

A headbutt in Round 6 opened the other wound this time on Melindo's right eye, but he showed resilience, especially in Round 9, when he stepped on the gas following a cut on Taguchi's head.

Taguchi retook control of the match in the final two rounds, especially with blood continuing on trickling from Melindo's right eye.

All three judges scored in favor of Taguchi with one judge giving a 116-112 card and the other two with identical 117-111 scores.

With the result, only IBF junior bantamweight holder Jerwin Ancajas and IBF flyweight king Donnie Nietes will enter 2018 as active Filipino world champions.

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