Another stigma in professional boxing?
By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.
IT’ was not the dazzling swords of Magellan and Lapu-Lapu that I saw in Cebu City last September 16, but the deadly fists of Filipino world champion Milan “El Metodico” Melindo against the visiting South African world titleholder Hekkie “The Hexicutioner” Budler in their IBF (International Boxing Federation) light flyweight world title fight.
Yes, I was again in Cebu City (with my four kids this time) and watched the eight cards slam bang of Pinoy Pride 42 dubbed as “Clash for Glory” promoted by Ala Promotions held at Waterfront Hotel and Casino. I believe you boxing fans saw, too, how our new Filipino world champion Melindo in his first defense successfully defended his crown via split draw, a decision that the South African camp described as “robbery.”
From where I sat and as far as my knowledge of boxing knowledge is concerned, the Melindo-Budler encounter should have resulted in a unanimous judgment, and not a split draw. After the 11th round according to my card, the two world champions were even (105-105) until Melindo luckily scored a knockdown in the 12th and final round that mattered most, with the three ring judges mandatory scoring 10-8 (professional boxing rule) for the 29 year-old Cagayan City-born Melindo that should have improved his record to 37 wins 13 knockouts with two defeats. This was echoed by media colleague and boxing follower Jun Velasco after watching the showdown on TV. “Sans that knockdown, the result could have been a draw but with that knockdown, the decision should have been unanimous,” JunV averred.
“I think I won the fight,” said the International Boxing Organization junior flyweight king Budler in his post-fight interview who (and his manager/trainer) described the knockdown as slip but the American referee Wes Melton ruled it a decking punch.
On his way out from his dressing room, I asked him if he plans to request for a rematch because the outcome was a split. The 29 year-old Johannesburg City native decisively answered me a big No. I did not bother him anymore to ask why.
I also attended the weigh-in for all the event’s protagonists a day before the fight at the SM Mall Cebu City with Melindo almost losing his crown in the scale not in the ring by weighing 1.4 pounds over the regulatory 108-pound limit on his first attempt. It took him almost two hours to shed off the extra poundage at the steam room to hit the limit on his second try. Physically drained but mentally confident at his highest level, the Cebu City-based Melindo’s desire to defend his title and put on a show in front of his hometown fans never wavered and was eventually successful despite his pre-fight predicament.
What happened to the Melindo-Budler clash was different from the Pagara-Onyango encounter. Pagara scored two knockdowns in the fight but after those early two rounds, Pagara was visibly and badly clobbered by the taller Kenyan in the succeeding rounds and should have been a victory for the visitor. Majority of the spectators booed the decision with Onyango’s manager-trainer Simba Naebwa describing the judgment as a “hometown decision.”
My cycling contemporary Joe Deresas who sat beside me during the entire fights said, “The boxing fans here knew boxing so much because this is our sport and you cannot blame them if they disagree.”
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And Jesus Christ said, “He who hates Me hates my Father also.” JOHN 15: 23