World champions Melindo vs. Budler in Cebu
By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.
BY the time you read this piece the Milan “El Metodico” Melindo versus Hekkie “Hexicutioner” Budler International Boxing Federation (IBF) world light flyweight title fight will already be finished. As in the past, I will be there again in Cebu City to watch the first title defense of Cagayan de Oro City-born Melindo against the reigning IBO (International Boxing Organization) minimum weight champ, South African slugger Budler, at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino on September 16.
This time. I’m bringing with me are my four sports-minded children headed by my eldest, the cyclist Jazy, cagers Rejee and Moses and Daly City-based balikbayan Jereza. Jazy, Moses and I, are regular Cebu jousters for cycling and boxing events but Rejee and Jereza are first-timers in this beautiful and booming city called “Queen City of the South.”
I’ve watched many of Melindo’s fights including his last fight against then IBF light flyweight titleholder Akira Yaegashi of Japan where he scored an unexpected sensational first round knockout victory to grab the diadem held in Tokyo last May 21. That was his first after three tries. The five-foot-two diminutive Melindo, 29, now carding 36 fights with 13 knockouts and two defeats, failed to seize world crowns before from Mexicans’ world title holders, Juan Francisco Estrada, in 2013 and Javier Mendoza in 2015. He finally fulfilled his long time dream to be a world champ just last May.
The Johannesburg Caucasian Budler toting 31 victories with 11 stoppages and two defeats, is not a patsy fighter. His record speaks for itself. Except the height with Budler having a one-inch edge, the two protagonists carry similar professional records, same age, and both reigning world champions. I guess they’re evenly matched as far as records are concerned. But Melindo has the backyard advantage with the predominantly partisan throng expected to cheer for him.
Budler, gaining weight and maturing, wants to climb one step higher to a heavier division and that’s the IBF light flyweight crown (108-pounds limit) held today by Melindo. Three Filipino world-rated contenders like Florante Condes, Juanito Rubillar and Joey Canoy fought Budler in world title clashes, all in South Africa, years past and the three failed. But Melindo is not like the three. He has a different style.
Do you think Melindo will be his fourth Filipino victim? That’s easier said than done. I’m not much of an expert in boxing despite it being my second favorite but I’ve seen Melindo’s fights countless times and admire his sturdiness, cleverness, resoluteness an dedication every time he fights. True, he’s not a devastating hard-puncher but can take chin-punches that others cannot. He’s one of a kind ring warrior like Filipino ex-world greats Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao and Filipino current world champions Donnie Nietes, Jerwin Ancajas, to name some. He will not be nicknamed in boxing as “El Metodico” (Method Man) if he’s not methodical and durable. Let’s wait and see.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And Jesus Christ said, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. LUKE 6: 35-36