Japan's Ryoichi Taguchi defeated Milan Melindo of the Philippines by decision to add the IBF light flyweight crown to his own WBA title on Sunday.
It was the finale of a world title tripleheader at Tokyo's Ota Gymnasium that saw IBF minimumweight champ Hiroto Kyoguchi and WBO flyweight champ Sho Kimura each retain their titles.
The lanky 31-year-old Taguchi got off to a cautious start, jabbing and keeping the stocky but cat-quick Melindo from closing and unloading on him with his ferocious combinations.
But while the Filipino appeared to land the fiercest blows, Taguchi opened cuts over both of his opponent's eyes as the fight went the distance. With both fighters tiring in the 10th round, Taguchi raised the tempo a full notch and showed that he, too, could fight in close.
"The end was good for me," said Taguchi, who was making his seventh title defense. "It was brutal."
"When I started boxing, I dreamed of being a world champ, of defending my title seven times and winning a unification fight. So this is pretty great."
Earlier, Kyoguchi scored an eighth-round technical knockout over Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua to win the first defense of his IBF minimumweight crown. The 24-year-old Kyoguchi won his belt in July, just one year and three months after his pro debut, the shortest time needed for a Japanese fighter to win a world title.
Kyoguchi was able to keep the third-ranked Buitrago at bay with his left jabs, while setting him up for his powerful right. After pummeling his opponent repeatedly with his right in the eighth round, the referee stopped the fight.
"My jab was overall my best punch," Kyoguchi said. "I was able to land them well. In the middle rounds, I lost my fear."
Also making his first title defense, Kimura beat lefty Toshiyuki Igarashi in a ninth-round TKO to retain his WBO flyweight title.
In an entertaining brawl, Igarashi consistently frustrated the hard-punching champ by ducking and dodging his big right. And though it looked like Kimura might punch himself out of the fight, Igarashi could not score enough points without coming in and absorbing the punishment that eventually finished him.
"Southpaws have always caused me trouble, but I feel now that left or right, it doesn't matter, and I have Igarashi to thank for that."
"He fought back to challenge me at the end, and showed the kind of guts he has. He is some kind of fighter."
Igarashi, however, said it was his last stand.
"I'd decided to retire if I failed to win," Igarashi said. "And I'm not going back on that."