Sunday, April 25, 2010

Melindo blasts foe to stamp class

MANILA, Philippines - Displaying new-found power in his move up in weight, WBC Youth Intercontinental flyweight champion Milan Melindo delivered a strong message that he’s ready for the big time by stopping Thailand’s Komrit Twins Gym at 1:23 of the fourth round to retain his title before a crowd of wildly cheering Filipino overseas workers at the Lodge, Chi Garden, in Dubai last Friday night.

Melindo, 22, isn’t really known as a devastating knockout artist but belied the reputation as he floored Komrit twice in the first round before finishing him off with a brutal uppercut to the body. Komrit, who was earlier docked a point for an accidental headbutt, dropped to his knees, grimacing in pain. Referee Bruce McTavish didn’t bother to count.

The win raised Melindo’s record to 21-0, with six KOs. Komrit was a late replacement for Colombia’s Devis Perez who couldn’t fly out of Bogota because of the travel
logjam caused by the volcanic ash that wreaked havoc on flight schedules all over Europe. The Thai flew in the day before the fight with Melindo unaware of his opponent’s style.

ALA Boxing Gym owner Tony Aldeguer said yesterday he’s not rushing a world title shot for Melindo who has outgrown the minimumweight class and is now a natural lightflyweight.

“I think he’s settling in as a lightflyweight but he fought as a flyweight against Anthony Villareal in his previous fight and against Komrit,” said Aldeguer. “He weighed only 110 pounds for Villareal. We had no intention of moving Milan all the way to flyweight but he wanted to fight for a title and the WBC Youth Intercontinental belt was the only one available. Milan didn’t mind it. But his ideal weight now is 108.”

Aldeguer said he’s learned from the failures of Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista and A. J. Banal not to force the issue.

“If you look at how champions like Juan Manuel Lopez and Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. became champions, you’ll notice they didn’t make their move until they were close to or in their mid-20s,” continued Aldeguer. “It may be easy to win a title but keeping it for a long time is the real challenge. We don’t want to lose a title in the first or second defense. Donnie Nietes is now 27 and he’s enjoying a long reign as WBO minimumweight champion. That’s how we plan to guide Milan’s career.”

Aldeguer described Melindo as meticulous and methodical in mowing down Komrit.

“I received texts from my son Michael during the fight in Dubai,” said Aldeguer from his Cebu home. “The show started at 8:30 p.m. which was past midnight, Philippine time, and I waited until 3 a.m. to find out how our boys did. Komrit was no problem for Milan. I think Milan was the most impressive winner that night.”

Aldeguer confirmed that Melindo was close to fighting IBF lightflyweight champion Carlos Tamara of Colombia in a card being staged by Solar Sports here in June. But Tamara chose to take on a less dangerous challenger, Argentina’s Luis Lazarate, for more money.

“Although we’re not pushing for a title fight, we’ll consider whatever opportunity comes Milan’s way,” said Aldeguer. “For instance, we welcomed the chance to fight Tamara. But we’re not going out of our way to look for a title shot. Milan is mature for his age and we realize experience is important.”

In other fights, Bautista halted Thailand’s Saichon Sotornpitak at 1:59 of the sixth round in a featherweight bout and superbantamweight Larry (Bon Jovi) Canillas disposed of Tanzania’s Fred Sayuni, also in the sixth.

Bautista was mobbed by Filipino fans in Dubai wherever he went. Easily the most popular of the three Filipinos in the card, Bautista didn’t disappoint his fans as he brought down Saichon in devastating fashion. Bautista sent Saichon reeling across the ring with a combination in the first round but had to survive a rally and a cut over his left eye before finally, blasting the Thai into submission. Referee Ver Abainza stepped in after another combination, capped by a vicious right hook to the jaw, deposited Saichon to the canvas.

Bautista improved his record to 28-2, with 21 KOs, and will now embark on a US campaign that he hopes will lead to another crack at a world crown. When he was 21, Bautista was knocked out in the first round by WBO superbantamweight titlist Daniel Ponce de Leon in his first attempt to win a world title in 2007.

Canillas decked Sayuni twice in the sixth round, signaling a halt to the carnage. The Tanzanian left the ring with a badly swollen eye. A hard-hitting slugger, Canillas has now scored nine stoppages in 10 wins.

Aldeguer’s son Michael reported from ringside that it took Canillas a few rounds before finding his rhythm. Canillas was tight in the early going but once he got untracked, Sayuni had no chance.

“Milan was too good, he’s in a different class,” said Michael. “Boom Boom was entertaining, as usual. We just have to know at what level he is. Boom Boom is a promotional gem. Filipinos mobbed him everywhere. His popularity is incredible.”

Bautista, a crowd pleaser, came out of his corner smoking in the first round and for a while, it appeared that Saichon wouldn’t last long. But the Thai roared back, finding holes in Bautista’s porous defense. Bautista, however, regrouped and his power eventually broke Saichon’s will. It was Bautista’s second bout since undergoing hand surgery last year.

The three Filipino fighters are booked to arrive back in Manila tonight.

Friday, April 23, 2010