Story and photo by Dennis Principe
Protagonists Merlito Sabillo, the defending WBO minimumweight champion, and challenger Jorle Estrada easily made the limit in Friday’s official weigh-in at the posh Solaire Resort & Casino in Pasay City, Philippines.
The 29-year-old Sabillo (22-0, 11 KOs), who will be making the first defense of his title, tallied 104lbs while Estrada came in at 103lbs. Sabillo won the interim belt when he shocked local boy Luis De La Rosa via TKO in the 8th round in their title fight last March in Colombia. “That fight was tougher because we had to go through flight & hotel issues for three days before reaching Colombia. I had to sleep outside a Starbucks coffee store in Hong Kong as all hotels were fully booked at that time,” said Sabillo.
Sabillo said his promoters have done a splendid job in arranging his first defense here in the country that he was able to focus on his training the whole three months of their camp at the ALA Boxing gym in Cebu. Sabillo’s status was upgraded to regular champion after then titleholder Moises Fuentes of Mexico decided to move up in weight & campaign as a lightflyweight. The 24-year-old Estrada (17-6, 6 KOs) in the meantime has vowed to stop Sabillo within seven rounds.
In the undercard, upcoming superflyweight Arthur Villanueva (22-0, 12 KO’s) will vie for the vacant WBO Asia Pacific superflyweight crown against Mexican Arturo Badillo (21-4, 19 KOs). Making a comeback after his failed world title attempt last October is AJ “Bazooka” Banal who will be facing another Mexican Abraham Gomez in a 10-round non-title fight. The fight card dubbed “Pinoy Pride XXI: When Worlds Collide” will be held Saturday night at the Grand Ballroom of the Solaire Resort & Casino in Pasay City.