Melindo barely keeps belt
BY: LEMUEL P. MAGLINTE: THE FREEMAN
CEBU, Philippines — Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo (37-2, 13KOs) displayed the heart of a true champion in squeezing out a split decision victory over the equally resilient Hekkie ‘Hexecutioner’ Budler (31-3, 10KOs) to retain his IBF light flyweight title in the main event of ‘Pinoy Pride 42: Clash for Glory’ the other night at the Pacific grand ballroom of Waterfront-Cebu City Hotel & Casino.
Melindo was forced to dig deep in a bell-to-bell war against the two-division world champion from the get-go.
Melindo, however, suffered a cut in his left eye after an accidental clash of heads. Budler then took advantage of it and tagged Melindo with his sharp jabs but the ALA boxer answered with strong body shots and hooks to the head.
After finding his rhythm in rounds eight and nine, Melindo sustained another cut, this time in his right eye due to head-butt. As the fight continued, Melindo staggered Budler with a series of hooks and uppercuts but Budler maintained a steady, aggressive work in the eleventh round.
Melindo’s dramatic moment came in the final round after he landed a perfectly timed left straight that sent Budler down. The South African, however, immediately stood up and engaged the ALA warrior in a brawl until the final bell.
Italian judge Carl Zappia scored the bout 115-113 for Budler but judges Takeo Harada of Japan and Glenn Trowbridge of Las Vegas has it 117-110 and 115-112, respectively, for Melindo, thus, the split verdict.
“I cant hardly see because of the blood in my eyes. I relied on my instinct to survive and score that knockdown in the last round,” said Melindo. “He (Budler) was tough and has power but It didn’t hurt me. He was very aggressive but careless.”
Indeeed, it was a breath-taking triumph for Melindo, who nearly lost his title on the scales after weighing 1.4 pounds over the regulatory weight limit during last Friday’s official weigh-in.
Bloodied and exhausted, Melindo’s efforts weren’t left unnoticed.
ALA Promotions President and CEO Michael Aldeguer was all praise for his ward, who will make his second defense in February next year.
“No question, Melindo showed heart. We expected this to be a very tough fight for him and he proved to us that he is indeed a real world champion,” said Aldeguer. “We will see him fight against in February against an undetermined mandatory challenger. For now, we will let him rest and enjoy this win.”
In the supporting bout, Jonas ‘Zorro’ Sultan (14-3, 9KOs) stunned former two-division champ Johnriel ‘Quadro’ Alas Casimero (24-4, 15KOs) with a lopsided unanimous decision in their IBF junior bantamweight title eliminator.
Not only did Sultan dictate the pace of the match from start to finish, he also landed the cleaner and solid punches compared to the passive Casimero. The official scores were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 all for Sultan, who earns a mandatory shot at IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas in what could be the first all-Filipino world championship in nearly a century.
In the other results, Jason ‘El Niño’ Pagara (40-2-1, 25KOs) fought to a split draw with Kenyan James ‘Onyi’ Onyango (23-11-2, 19KOs), while ‘King’ Arthur Villanueva (31-2, 17KOs) stopped Richie Mepranum (31-7, 8KOs) i`n round four. (FREEMAN)