Perhaps because he does not have an I’m-a-tough-guy type of character, Ryoichi Taguchi is somewhat underestimated.
But you can’t overlook the fact that he has defended his WBA light flyweight title five times.
The 30-year-old boxer will look to extend that streak when he faces Colombia’s Robert Barrera on Sunday night at Ota City General Gymnasium.
“I feel just like I feel before every fight,” Taguchi said at a signing ceremony for the fight on Saturday. “I feel calm. I know my opponent is tough, but I’ve done what I’m supposed to do and if I perform to my ability, I should not have a problem (to win it).”
Again, Taguchi (25-2-2, 11 knockouts) has a laid-back character, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not a confident fighter.
“I have confidence,” the Tokyo native said. “I believe that I will be the winner in the end.”
By contrast, Barrera (18-1, 12 KOs) is ferocious as he approaches his first world title fight.
“I feel excellent about my body condition, and am just waiting for tomorrow’s fight,” the No. 1 contender said through an interpreter. “We don’t have any world champions in Colombia now, so I will be a champion for my country and my son.”
Taguchi successfully defended his title for the fifth time on Dec. 31, 2016, and that fight against Venezuela’s Carlos Canizales was declared a draw.
“I was far from satisfied in my previous fight,” said Taguchi, who claimed the title on Dec. 31, 2014, and has made all of his title defenses at Ota Gym since then. “I want to go more actively this time, making preemptive strikes.”
Meanwhile, Taguchi’s fellow Watanabe Gym mate Hiroto Kyoguchi will attempt to capture the IBF minimumweight crown from Mexican champion Jose Argumedo in a title bout on the undercard.
“I came to Japan being ready to fight,” said Argumedo, who is 20-3-1 with 12 KOs. “I want to fight until my opponent goes down. I am 100 percent confident and it’ll be a war tomorrow.”
Kyoguchi responded by jokingly saying, “I don’t like wars. I believe in world peace.”
He added: “But once I step up into the ring, I’ll be the champion. It’s been my dream to be a world champion since I began boxing. I want to win it by any means.”
The 23-year-old Kyoguchi (7-0, 6 KOs) is ranked No. 9 in the weight division by the IBF.
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