COMING off an impressive first-round stoppage win in Japan last Sunday night, newly-crowned International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight champion Milan Melindo has already been issued a challenge.
Former interim World Boxing Association (WBA) light flyweight titleholder Randy Petalcorin wants a crack at Melindo in what should be a battle between two of the country’s best 108-pounders.
“That is the fight we want,” Petalcorin’s handler Jim Claude Manangquil told SunStar Cebu. “Randy is the highest-ranked contender at the moment.”
Petalcorin is currently ranked No. 4 in the IBF. Both the No. 1 and the No. 2 slots are vacant, while unbeaten Japanese Ken Shiro is ranked No. 3. The 25-year-old Japanese will drop out of the rankings after winning the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight belt last Saturday.
“Melindo just had a big win, we won’t bother him now. Next week, we will start talking to them,” said Manangquil. “I heard Michael Aldeguer said that he wants to do top Filipino fights.”
The 29-year-old Melindo shocked Yaegashi and finished him off in the first round after dropping him three times at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo.
Petalcorin, the IBF Pan Pacific light flyweight champion, is coming off a sixth round stoppage in a keep-busy fight against Mark Anthony Florida last Feb. 26 in Gen. Santos City.
Melindo said that he doesn’t want to fight a fellow Filipino, especially at the world championship level. However, if mandated, then he has no choice.
“I will fight with a heavy heart. I don’t want to fight my countryman at this level. If I win, I don’t want to be the reason that they will fail. If I lose then it’s fine because I think I have lots of opportunities to bounce back, but not all boxers think that way. Most of them get discouraged, especially with the discrimination of the people,” said Melindo.
Though it’s a rare occurrence that a Filipino faces another Filipino in a world title fight, Manangquil believes that these type of fights are good for Philippine boxing.
“Yes, of course, people will watch. Example there are two cards on the same night in one city, first card is Randy vs. Milan, second card is a Filipino vs. an unknown Mexican or Indonesian, everybody will go to the first card,” he said.
The last time two Filipinos fought each other in a world championship was 92 years ago, when Pancho Villa beat Clever Sencio for the World flyweight title in 1925.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2017.
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