TOKYO – Ryoichi Taguchi's bid to become the first Japanese boxer to successfully defend a unified world title was dashed by junior lightweight rival Hekkie Budler on Sunday.
The South African challenger relieved Taguchi of his WBA and IBF belts as he won a unanimous points decision in Tokyo.
All three judges scored the bout 114-113 in favour of Budler, himself previously a WBA title holder.
The South African, dubbed the "Hexecutioner", improved to 32 wins, 10 by knockout, against three losses.
Taguchi, who was defending his WBA title for the eighth time and the IBF crown for the first time, found himself trailing on points after a furious start from the taller challenger.
The Japanese fighter bravely poured on the pressure over the final rounds, sending Budler to the canvas, but it was not enough make up the deficit.
Taguchi slipped to 27 wins against three defeats and two draws.