First off the block, Taduran hopes to get the ball rolling


The country finished 2019 with four world boxing champions in Manny Pacquiao (WBA welterweight), Jerwin Ancajas (IBF junior bantamweight), John Riel Casimero (WBO bantamweight) and Pedro Taduran (IBF minimumweight). The time has come, though, for our champions to buckle down to business and defend their respective crown.

Taduran, the lightest among our champions, will be the first to put his title on the line this year when he makes the trip to Guadalupe, Mexico on February 1 to defend the 105-pound diadem opposite Mexican Daniel “Cejitas” Valladares.

Taduran, 23, turned pro in May 2015 and went unbeaten in his first 6 fights (5 by knockout) before losing a six-round split decision to Joel Lino in April 2016. Taduran rebounded by winning his next 6 fights (4 by knockout) before dropping a unanimous decision to Thai Wanheng Menayothin in August 2018 in a bid for the WBC minimumweight crown.

Taduran finally won the IBF title last September with a four-round drubbing of countryman Samuel Salva in Taguig City. In only the second all-Filipino world title fight to be staged in the country, Taduran survived a first-round knockdown to mercilessly batter Salva.

Taduran, 14-2 with 11 knockouts, cannot wait to post his first successful defense of the IBF diadem. The first defense, however, does not figure to be a walk in the park.

Challenger Valladares totes a record of 22-1 with 13 knockouts. He turned pro in February 2014 and went unbeaten in his first 11 fights before dropping a decision to countryman Genaro Rios in December 2016. Valladares has since been unbeaten in 11 fights and the streak includes stoppage victories over Filipinos Merlito Sabillo and Christian Araneta.

Sabillo, a former WBO minimumweight world champion, fought Valladares in April 2019 and put up a solid effort before a huge cut on the left eye forced him to surrender midway in the 7th stanza.

On the other hand, Araneta showed up with an unbeaten record (17-0) against Valladares in September 2019 but ended up losing after injuring his shoulder at the end of the fourth round. Araneta was holding his own before he busted his shoulder.

Valladares has been described as a rugged infighter who is not shy to use sly tactics. The fight with Araneta was marred by several head-butts in the early rounds and it was a push from Valladares that actually injured the Filipino’s shoulder.

Taduran is expected to face a hostile, partisan crowd when he takes on Valladares in the latter’s turf. Then again, it is worth disclosing that Valladares has been fighting as a light flyweight (108 lbs.) before he decided to shed weight and fight Taduran for the minimumweight (105 lbs.) title.

Valladares’ victory over Araneta supposedly guaranteed him a shot at the IBF light flyweight crown held by fearsome Nicaraguan puncher Felix Alvarado (35-2, 30 knockouts). Arguably wary of Alvarado’s punching power, Valladares opted to fight Taduran instead.

Valladares struggled to make 108 pounds when he fought Araneta and it is not difficult to imagine the Mexican struggling to meet 105 pounds opposite Taduran.

Taduran is a relentless pressure fighter and the defending champion is expected to take the fight to Valladares. The pairing figures to produce heated exchanges, but Taduran has to be on the lookout for Valladares’ tricky maneuvers.

Taduran may also want to invest on some body shots in the early rounds. If Valladares struggles to meet 105 pounds, the Mexican figures to be soft along the breadbasket area and it will serve Taduran well to test it.

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