Melindo lost to a better fighter, admits coach

Kyokugen 2017 Taguchi vs. Melindo Results Zach Aittama

Kyokugen 2017 Taguchi vs. Melindo Results Zach Aittama

Their bout takes place Sunday evening at Ota-City General Gym in Tokyo, Japan. The showdown with Melindo comes on the three-year anniversary of his title reign, while also riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak since a points loss to Naoya Inoue way back in August '13.

As for Melindo, a win will not only mean two titles in one year but also strong consideration for a 2017 Fighter of the Year race that has been anything but definitive for any of the leading candidates.

Taguchi, 31, began asserting control in the third and fourth rounds as the 29-year-old Melindo, hampered by a cut over his left eye in the third, abandoned the jab and slowed down, allowing Taguchi to get in and out with his shots.

He successfully defended his title via split decision over South African Hekkie Budler last September in Cebu.

MAKING excuses is not part of Milan Melindo's act.

Melindo's momentum was slowed in the sixth with another head clash, opening a gash over the right eye this time.

In his return to Tokyo, Melindo was unable to duplicate his triumph. The final fight of Uchiyama's storied career came last New Year's Eve, dropping a decision to Corrales in their rematch on the same night in which Taguchi was held to a disappointing draw versus Carlos Canizalez on the undercard.

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.

IBF world light flyweight champion Milan Melindo of the Philippines stepped the scales at 107.5 lbs while WBA world light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi of Japan came in at 107.75 lbs during their official weighin in Tokyo Saturday afternoon.

The event airs live on TBS (Japan). The fight is being advertised for a delayed broadcast instead on January 2.

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