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Masataka Taniguchi vs Kai Ishizawa set for April 22nd in Tokyo

Taniguchi knocked out Wilfredo Mendez for the belt in December

Wilfredo Mendez v Masataka Taniguchi - WBO Minimumweight Title Bout Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images

Newly crowned WBO minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi’s inaugural title defense will be a rematch, as he’s set to face former rival Kai Ishizawa on April 22nd at Tokyo’s venerable Korakuen Hall.

Taniguchi (15-3, 10 KO), nearly three years removed from an unsuccessful title shot against Vic Saludar, overpowered Wilfredo “Bimbito” Mendez for that same belt last December. The stoppage was his third in a row, and he now sits at 7-1 since narrowly falling to Tsubasa Koura in 2017.

The 25-year-old Ishizawa (10-1, 9 KO) dropped an eight-round decision to Taniguchi in 2019, since which he’s won four straight. The biggest of those came just last month, when he knocked out Katsuki Mori to claim the Japanese minimumweight title previously held by Taniguchi.

Between this and Wanheng Menayothin’s pending revenge match with Petchmanee CP Freshmart, it’s a good time for fans of the little guys. We’ll let you know if any more major fights join the lineup.