WBO Champion Masataka Taniguchi revealed Behind the Scenes of “First Defense Battle of Despair” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

WBO Champion Masataka Taniguchi revealed Behind the Scenes of “First Defense Battle of Despair”

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With 34 seconds left in the 11th round, WBO mini-flyweight champion Masataka Taniguchi landed a short straight left hand that caught Kai Ishizawa in the face. The challenger staggered back and the referee stopped the fight.

The next moment, Taniguchi climbed up on the neutral corner post and repeatedly posed gutsy to the audience. Then, after putting his feet on the canvas, he first exchanged gloves with fellow WBA light flyweight super champion Hiroto Kyoguchi.

Taniguchi’s left body was brilliant in this bout.On April 22, Taniguchi successfully defended his title for the first time.

All I can say is that I feel relieved.”

The day after the match, Taniguchi’s tone of voice was as usual cheerful as ever. Ishizawa, the challenger, weighed in 2.5 kilograms over the limit, and two hours later he re-weighed in with only 200 grams, leaving Taniguchi in the position of losing the belt if he were to lose the match.

Kyoguchi, who was at the weigh-in as a member of Taniguchi’s camp, recalls. They were the same age and had fought six times as amateurs, with Kyoguchi winning four and losing two. Taniguchi and Kyoguchi were captains at Ryukoku University and Osaka University of Commerce, respectively, and upon graduation, they moved into the dormitory at Watanabe Gym, where they had a friendly competition.

Taniguchi was in a state of extreme conditioning, but Ishizawa’s body was huge. Weight loss also takes away your physical strength, so Taniguchi’s body seemed to take more damage.

Taniguchi is a man who never says anything negative, but before the match, he said, What will happen if I lose? I was worried. Ishizawa also dropped only 200 grams in the re-weigh-in, and he didn’t seem to be determined to reach the limit at all costs.

I guess he did it out of consideration for his health, but all he did before the re-weighing was spit-up. There was no way he could lose 2.5 kilograms, and he didn’t move around in his sauna suit, so I wondered if he was trying to conserve his strength or if this was just another strategy.

When I heard that Ishizawa dropped only 200 grams, I remembered the Diego Corrales vs. Jose Luis Castillo fight held at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas on October 8, 2005. Five months earlier, the unification bout between Corrales, who held the WBO lightweight title, and Castillo, who was the WBC champion in the same weight class, had been a fierce exchange of blows, with Corrales taking the win by a knockout. Castillo was looking for revenge, but he was 2 pounds (0.91 kg) overweight at the weigh-in the day before the return match, and when he re-weighed in two hours later, he was another 1.2 pounds overweight, totaling 1.45 kg, and the event was canceled as a title match.

Castillo entered the ring with a $ 120,000 fine, or 10% of his fight money, and exited the ring as the winner after submitting Corrales in four rounds in a non-title bout.

When the fight was over, it was a fierce battle that was described as his “best bout.” Really, I’m glad I won …Taniguchi and Ishizawa exchanged fists on September 21, 2019 in a match to determine the challenger for the Japanese mini fly-weight title, which Taniguchi won by decision. Despite being over the limit, Ishizawa may have been left with some extra energy, wanting to just win the match.

Taniguchi also spoke of his feelings at the time.

I couldn’t accept it as reality. I also had a tough weight cut, so to be honest, my head wasn’t moving properly. But I thought he would drop one kilogram at the re-measurement. 2.5 kg over is not even I vaguely thought that light fly was the borderline, but there is a huge difference between coming back from 51.1 kg without condition and coming back from 47.6 kg with no limit.

Discussions between the Japan Boxing Commission and the two camps have led to a move toward a title match at 5:30 pm on the day of the fight on the condition that Ishizawa make himself within the minimum weight limit plus 3 kg. In the WBA, WBC, and IBF, when a challenger is overweight, the belt is not transferred when the fight takes place. In the WBO, the title is lost when the champion suffers a black star, leaving the title vacant. For Taniguchi, the match was all about risk.

“At first I said I didn’t want to do it, “Taniguchi said,” but once it was decided that the fight would go ahead at three kilograms plus, I switched my mind and said,’I’ll do it. I knew Ishizawa’s character, so there was no way he wouldn’t have made the weight on purpose. I felt that he must have had some accident and was at his limit. If this had been a suitable overseas player, I would have said,’Definitely drop it.

If you win, you defend. If I lose, I lose the belt, which is normal, and if I win, I’ll do it. I’ll do it! “I didn’t have any negative thoughts after I decided to do it. On the contrary, I thought that I had attracted more attention by being overweight (laughs).

About a month before the match, Taniguchi said, “I want to show Ishizawa that I am a few steps ahead of him after letting him show everything. I will win the match by making him feel that there is nothing more he can do and that he has failed to reach the ring.

Ishizawa came out, so I set the theme of “disengage and flinch.” His movements were within my expectations. He wasn’t in perfect condition, but I think I was able to push him to the point where there was nothing I could do.

Kyoguchi, who was seconding him, also recalled.

“Taniguchi had good positioning, mixing in finely struck lefts, uppercuts from various angles, and punches aimed at the middle of the body. Taniguchi’s bodywork was very advanced, and he was like Pernell Whitaker when he bent his knees and used bodywork to duck. It was a very flexible and Japanese-like move. He looked good and was scoring points.

Taniguchi did what he wanted to do, such as countering Ishizawa-kun’s strikes with returns that missed, or using long uppercuts to make him stand on a stick. In my opinion, this match was Taniguchi’s best bout.

Taniguchi has definitely peeled off since his 11th round TKO over Wilfredo Mendes last December 14 to win the world title. He himself says, “I think I have a wider perspective and more leeway now that I am a world champion,” but he also showed his depth not only as a boxer but also as a human being. In his post-fight interview with the victor and at the press conference, he repeatedly expressed his consideration for Ishizawa.

From the first to the eleventh round, his punches were alive. It is his decision, but I think it would be a waste to stop now. Human beings learn a lot from reflection.

“For me, losing to Vic Saludar in my first world title fight was a turning point. That was a turning point for me, and I became a world champion because of the defeat against Saludar. I changed my approach to boxing from just doing it with vigor and practicing hard, to thinking about the meaning and theme of each practice.”


Kyoguchi, who saw Taniguchi’s attitude, also commented.

I think he is an adult, but I also felt that he said those words because they were accompanied by results. I felt it was only because we won. If the result had been different, I would not have been able to say that. If Taniguchi had lost, I think it would have become a problem. If I were in Taniguchi’s shoes, I can’t imagine how I would have said that. If it had been a few hundred grams, I might have felt the same way, but it is hard to say something like Taniguchi did to an opponent who was 2.3 kg overweight. I just have the impression that it’s simply awesome.”

Now, Kyoguchi is looking ahead to his June 10 fight against WBA regular champion Esteban Bermudez, which has been tentatively scheduled for June 10.

Taniguchi gave me good motivation. I’m thinking, I’m next. Esteban Bermudez seems to be able to box in various ways with great dexterity. He has a long, big punch from the middle distance, and he has good guesswork. I think he is stronger than his record of 14 wins (10 KOs), 3 losses, and 2 draws. This time, we will be fighting on enemy territory in Mexico City. I hope to do my job properly in such a situation.

I plan to enter the area three weeks before the fight because I have to prepare for the high altitude. I have not been able to fight since last March, and I want to defend my title with something that will satisfy the fans who have been looking forward to it. I will also win fans in Mexico and further improve my power. I would also like to have a unification fight with (WBC light flyweight champion) Kenshiro Teraji by the end of the year. Right now, I have to give priority to the Bermudez fight, which was nominated by the WBA. There are people who say I am running away from him but I have every intention of fighting Kenshiro.”

Taniguchi and Kyoguchi are a powerful two-shot. Reminiscent of the arrival of Watanabe’s golden era.In 2016, upon graduating from college, these two men knocked on the door of the Watanabe Gym and each became world champions. They are also good friends, and their rival story is ongoing. Let’s see what they will show us next.
  • Interview & Text Soichi Hayashi Photo Hiroaki Yamaguchi

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