May 20, 2018


South African Hekkie Budler (32-3, 10 KOs), 108, upset WBA/IBF 108-pound champ Ryoichi Taguchi (27-3-2, 12 KOs), 108, as he took the leadoff in earlier rounds, withstood the champfs retaliation in later rounds and survived a knockdown in the final session to be awarded a hairline unanimous decision over twelve hard-fought rounds on Sunday in Tokyo, Japan. The scores were very identical with all 114-113 by Mike Fitzgerald (US), Neville Hotz (South Africa) and Katsuhiko Nakamura (Japan). The third man was Samuel Williams (US).

Taguchi, making his eighth defense of the WBA belt and his initial defense of the IBF title, was a prefight favorite, but Budler, ex-WBA 105-pound ruler, was in command with his Lomachenko-like shifty mobility and quick combinations in the first half. Taguchi, a slower starter, turned loose from the sixth on, but Budler gamely responded to the champfs retaliation although the tide turned in Taguchifs favor in later rounds. The final session witnessed Taguchi floor Budler with a solid countering left hook, but the referee erroneously called it a slip. After the last round was over, there happened a great roar against the third manfs mistake in the arena. With the obvious proof repeatedly shown on the big screen, the WBA and IBF supervisors had to accept the correction from a slip to a knockdown, which eventually caused a correction of the tally on each judge. The close verdict, however, went to the challenger from South Africa to the crowdfs disappointment although people expected that the final-round knockdown would barely save Taguchifs belt even by a draw, but it wasnft enough to overcome his deficits on points in earlier rounds.

Taguchi gloomily said, gI admit I wasnft sharp as usual. Budler deserved a victory even if it was so close.h The jubilant Budler said, gI think itfs a fair decision, which I appreciate very much. I will accept a rematch with Taguchi, if he wishes. I did it once and will repeat it against Taguchi again.h

Since it was such a hairline decision with the champ having scored a dramatic knockdown in the final stanza, Taguchi may deserve a rematch, as his manager/promoter Hitoshi Watanabe strongly asks for it and people here strongly wish to see it.


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