By Dennis Principe
Undefeated flyweight Milan Melindo of the Philippines kept his rights as mandatory world title challenger but not after being exposed as a young fighter lacking the needed experience. The 24-year-old Melindo struggled mightily in trying to tag a veteran Jean Piero Perez of Venezuela in the second half of their 12-round bout for the WBO International flyweight crown held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines.
But Melindo’s troubles had nothing to do with conditioning as the Cagayan de Oro City-native boxer seemed to be in excellent shape in going even beyond 12 rounds.
What hounded Melindo was his inability to make the needed adjustments after Perez successfully fought from the outside and used his jabs and left-right combinations in keeping the Filipino at bay from the seventh rounds onwards.
“I’m sorry because I know the fans were expecting a knockout but I gave my best,” said Melindo.
Melindo, who dominated Perez with stinging body blows, overhand rights and stiff jabs the first six rounds disclosed he was bothered by an ugly cut on his left eyelid as blood partially impaired his vision.
One judge scored it 114-114 while the other two penned it 115-113 and 116-112, enabling Melindo to keep his WBO International flyweight crown via majority decision and improve his unblemished record to 28-0 with 11 stoppages.
This writer tallied it for Melindo by pocketing rounds one to six and the twelfth round for a total of 115-113.
Melindo’s manager and ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer said they will just await the WBO’s decision on their mandatory status as current titleholder Brian Viloria is set to fight WBA champion Hernan Marquez of Mexico this November in California.
Also being eyed by the Melindo camp is International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight ruler Moruti Mthalane of South Africa who recently made his fourth defense by stopping mandatory Panamanian challenger Ricardo Nunez via TKO in the 8th round last September 1 in Panama.