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Melindo guns for IBF title

Two-time world title challenger Milan Melindo will aim to etch his name alongside iconic Filipino boxing champions when he vies for a world crown tonight in Cebu.

The 28-year-old Melindo will face Fahlan Sakkreerin, Jr. of Thailand for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) interim lightflyweight belt in a 12-round bout at the Cebu City Coliseum.

Melindo (34-2, 12 knockouts) is highly-favored to win the fight owing to his twin title bids where he fought gallantly before losing to Mexican world champions Juan Francisco Estrada and Javier Mendoza in 2013 and 2015.

“Malayo nga siguro ang kalidad ni Sakkreerin sa mga Mexican champions na nakalaban ko pero iba-iba naman ang style ng bawat boxer,” said Melindo “Todo buhos pa din ako sa training kasi iniisip ko last chance ko na ito.”

Before Melindo, a good number of Filipino boxers became superstar champions wearing the same belt namely Johnriel Casimero, Tacy Macalos, Brian Viloria and Dodie Boy Peñalosa who became the first-ever IBF champion of the 108lb class back in 1983.

Akira Yaegashi of Japan is actually the holder of the regular belt but was given by the IBF a medical exception due to a torn rotator cuff that will sideline the Japanese until March of next year, paving the way for an interim bout between Melindo and Sakreerin, Jr.

Philippine lightflyweight kingpin Lester Abutan, the last Filipino fighter who fought and lost to the 23-year-old Sakkreerin, Jr. (31-4, 16 KOs) last April via split decision, sees Melindo winning via the short route.

“Mahina katawan ni Sakkreerin at madaling pasukin. Ingat lang si Milan sa jab-straight pero tingin ko matalino sa laro si Milan para mabantayan yun. Hindi makakatapos yung Thai kay Melindo,” said Abutan.

In yesterday’s weigh-in, Melindo tallied an exact 108lbs while Sakkreerin, Jr. who holds a four-inch height advantage registered 107.6lbs.

Melindo and Sakreerin will be the main eventers of ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride 39 which will also feature the Pagara brothers Jason and Albert who will be facing welterweight Jose Alfaro of Nicaragua and superbantamweight Raymond Commey of Ghana, respectively. (Dennis Principe)