By Dennis Principe
Colombian Carlos Tamara is eyeing a follow-up of his Philippine conquest when he meets undefeated Filipino prospect Milan Melindo Saturday night at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City. The 27-year-old Tamara (21-5, 15 knockouts) is the same fighter who scored a dramatic 12th round come-from-behind TKO win over Hawaiian Brian Viloria in their IBF world light flyweight title fight last January at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
A popular fighter in his country, the Greece Olympics veteran Tamara was given a hero’s welcome in Colombia where his conquest of Viloria was rewarded with a house and lot by no less than then Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Velez. When Tamara lost the crown in his first title defense to Luis Alberto Lazarte of Argentina, the Colombian decided to stay in his training camp in New Jersey and vowed to come back home only when he wins another world crown.
“It’s been hard staying in New York and I miss my daughters. That motivates me even more to perform at my best and deliver the same thing I did last January,” said Tamara.
Friday morning both Melindo and Tamara easily made the limit of 112-lbs for their 10-round non-title fight that will headline a first-rate card dubbed “Pinoy Pride 2”.
“We love fighting here and we look forward to returning for a third time and topbill another card under ALA Promotions with Melindo fighting in the undercard,” said Tamara’s trainer Edgar Sanchez in alluding to a sure win for his ward.
The undefeated 22-year-old Melindo (22-0, 7 knockouts) meanwhile was more prudent with his remarks in during Thursday ‘s press conference but still exuded confidence about his chances.
“Don’t’ talk a lot. Just do it inside the ring,” said Melindo “My estimate, it will be over in five rounds.”
Though no title is at stake in this 10-round brawl, both Melindo and Tamara said they prepared for this bout as if they will be fighting it out for a world crown.
Tamara said he has sparred 50 rounds more than what he did when he trained for the Viloria fight while Melindo has been aching to fight for a world crown and has in fact lived inside the ALA compound for four straight years without returning to his hometown in Cagayan de Oro City.
“I promised to myself I will return to my hometown only when I become a world champion,” said Melindo who stands three inches shorter than his 5’5″ foe.
In the co-feature, unheralded but first-rate Filipino Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) champion Rocky Fuentes defends his crown against Inthanon Sitchamuang of Thailand in a 12-round bout.
Former world champion Florante Condes returns to action against Japanese Kenichi Horikawa in a 10-round encounter while ex-world title challenger Randy Suico moves up in the welterweight class opposite Philippine 147-lb ruler Arnel Tinampay.
Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr., son and namesake of the country ‘s first ever two-division champion Dodie Boy Penalosa, will go up against Jomar Torreon in a 4-round super bantamweight setto.
Follow round-by-round account of the main event via this writer’s twitter account (www.twitter.com/dennisprincipe)