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Melindo KOs foe to win world title

Milan Melindo, not known as a power-puncher, knocked out the iron-chinned Japanese Akira Yaegashi in the first round last night to crown himself the new International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight king before a stunned crowd at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo.

Melindo sent Yaegashi to the floor midway through the opening canto with a perfect left hook and followed it up with the same blow moments later for the second knockdown.

Instead of retreating, Yaegashi opted to slug it out with Melindo after the second knockdown and paid dearly as the highly-skilled Filipino landed a left-right that put the Japanese down for the third time.

Referee Eddie Hernandez of the US didn’t bother to count and stepped in at 2:45 of the round, making Melindo the fourth reigning Filipino world champion after Manny Pacquiao, Jerwin Ancajas, and ALA Boxing stablemate Donnie Nietes.

The victory raised Melindo’s win-loss card to 36-2 with 13 KOs, while Yaegashi’s eye-popping loss saw his mark drop to 25-6 with 13 KOs.

The crowd at the venue sat and watched in silence when Hernandez called a halt to the scheduled 12-rounder while Team Melindo erupted in cheers.

It was Melindo’s third crack at the world title following losses to Mexicans Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 and Javier Mendoza in 2015.

It could not yet be determined when Melindo is going to make the first defense of the newly-won IBF 108-lb title although ALA Boxing chief Michael Aldeguer is expected to be at the forefront of staging it in the country with Manila or Cebu as candidate sites. (Nick Giongco)