Milan’s game plan: Train hard, pray, stay humble
By: Calvin D. Cordova, Cebu Daily News
Opportunities don’t come along very often. So when they come, you have to pounce on them. And that’s what exactly Milan Milendo is doing.
Milendo has been pushing himself hard in the gym, getting the needed preparation for what could be the biggest fight of his career.
Milendo is set to fight regular IBF World light flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi and though no exact date has been set yet for the gigantic match, the ALA Boxing Gym stalwart is already in deep training.
“I didn’t even feel like going on a vacation for the holidays. I know I still have to train harder, I want to train harder”, Melindo said.
Melindo became the interim IBF World light flyweight champion when he pulled off a unanimous decision win over IBF no. 3 light flyweight Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. last Nov. 26 at the Cebu Coliseum.
A week after securing the crucial win, Melindo immediately went back to the gym, fully aware that he’s in for a tough fight against Yaegashi.
“Yaegashi is a good fighter. He won’t the world title if he isn’t,” said Melindo (35W-2L-0D-12KOs).
Before winning the interim IBF world title belt, Melindo bungled two chances of pocketing a world title. But for Melindo, those defeats only made him a better boxer.
“I realized what helped me win is the strong motivation from my past two attempts at world titles. Because of the experience, I felt a stronger will to finally win and make something out of my dreams,” he said.
Training hard in the gym is just one of Melindo’s game plans. He knows that for him to succeed, he has to keep his feet on the ground.
So has Melindo changed when he became an interim world champion?
“There’s not much of a difference in me as a person. I am the same Milan before I won the title. I want people to know that. I am very happy to have finally won a world title for all of us. I am happy I was given the chance fight again despite my failures the past years. More importantly, I am happy with how I turned my doubters to believers,” he said.
As good as a fighter he is, Melindo said he can’t win without seeking divine intervention.
“I pray to win. I have to admit, the last fights I had, I don’t pray to win. I pray for guidance instead. I pray for our safety. I was always dependent on our training and my skills as a fighter,” Melindo said.
Melindo was also thankful for the support he’s getting.
“I know not everyone gets the opportunity to get big fights. That is why I am very thankful to my manager, my promoter, all the people behind ALA Gym and ALA Promotions, my coaches, stable mates that I’ve sparred with, my family, and of course our TV partner ABS-CBN Sports. Without everyone, the media, and fans who’ve always supported us fighters, I wouldn’t be able to get to where I am now,” he said.
Apart from becoming a world champion, Melindo said his purpose is to inspire aspiring boxers to do whatever it takes to reach the top.
“I hope the young fighters out there who have yet to conquer their own dreams know my story and continue to do what they believe in. I know I’ve yet to achieve mine too, but I hope they don’t give up when they fail and do their best every time they go in the ring. I hope they continue reaching for their dreams because nothing is impossible. I am a living proof of that,” Melindo stressed.