Reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight champion Milan Melindo aims to become the first Filipino unified light flyweight world champion as he takes on Japanese World Boxing Association (WBA) super light flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi on December 31 at the Ota-City Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
Coming from a split decision win over South African Hekkie Budler last September 16 in Cebu City, the 29-year-old Melindo (37-2 win-loss record with 13 knockouts) told The Manila Times that he’s 90 percent ready for the fight.
“I will do my best to win. I have to be quick and improve my punching. I need to train harder,” said Melindo, who scored a first-round technical knockout win against Japanese Akira Yaegashi last May to seize the belt in Tokyo, Japan.
Melindo’s trainer Edito Villamor said the unification fight would be the biggest in Melindo’s boxing career.
“If he wins, I think Milan will be the first Filipino to become a unified world champion in the light flyweight division. This is his dream, to fight the world champion in the light flyweight,” said Villamor.
A week after the Budler bout, Villamor said Melindo immediately went back to training and for one month, engaged in heavy sparring.
Melindo had finished already four 12-round sparring sessions.
Taguchi, 31, is sporting 26-2-2 win-loss-draw record with 12 knockouts, and is coming from an impressive technical knockout win against Robert Barrera of Colombia last July 23 in Tokyo.
If Melindo captured the two belts, he will join the elite list of Filipino unified world champions Nonito Donaire Jr. (World Boxing Organization and IBF super bantamweight belt) and Brian Villoria (WBA and WBO flyweight champion).