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Melindo’s next target is Olympics

Newly-crowned International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightflyweight champion Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo yesterday said he would love to represent the country in the Tokyo Olympics three years from now.

“Bago pa mag-pro, talagang gusto ko sumali sa Olympics. Dream ko na hindi lang maging Olympian kung di manalo din ng gold,” said the Cagayan de Oro-native Melindo.

Melindo’s Olympic dream is now possible after professional boxers were allowed to compete last year in the Rio Olympics.

The 29-year-old Melindo (36-2, 13 knockouts) achieved one of his childhood dreams Sunday night in Tokyo, Japan when he demolished local hero Akira Yaigashi in the first round of their 12-round title fight in Tokyo, Japan.

“Desidido ako noon na maging national team pero nung tinanggal yung scholarship ko noon sa school, napilitan na ako mag-professional,” said Melindo.

Fight expert Atty. Ed Tolentino said Milan has all the tools to end the country’s yearning to see an athlete bring home an Olympic gold medal.

“Milan has proven to be a complete fighter. Maraming jabs, clear power shots and yung skills niya kitang-kita mo talaga, something that is crucial sa Olympic style of scoring na kailangan kasi klaro yung mga patama,” said Tolentino.

If qualifiers are held today, Melindo would be fighting for the lightflyweight slot opposite 23-year-old Rogen Ladon who was one of two qualifiers in the 2016 Olympic Games, the other being lightweight Charly Suarez.

“I’ll choose Melindo over Ladon because hindi mo na matatawaran yung experience niya kahit na he’s been a pro for quite some time,” added Tolentino. “He has proven his quality against the best boxers in his division.”

Reached for a reaction, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) Secretary-General Ed Picson said that their door will always be open for anyone, professional boxers included, should they wish to aim for a stint in the Olympics.

“We’re very impressed & happy at Milan’s victory. I don’t know what his plans are, but if the Olympics are in his sights, we will have to sit down & discuss possibilities,” said Picson. “There are several factors involved, including qualification tournaments and of course having to hurdle the existing boxers in the national pool.”

Picson once tried but failed to convince Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao to compete in the 2016 Summer Games. (Dennis Principe)

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