Now shines Milan Melindo, the late-maturing star | Inquirer Sports
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Now shines Milan Melindo, the late-maturing star

Philippine interim champion Milan Melindo walks back to a corner as Japanese champion Akira Yaegashi falls down on the mat after being knocked down in the first round of their IBF light flyweight boxing unified champion match in Tokyo, Sunday, May 21, 2017. Melindo knocked out Yaegashi in the round to win the title. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

Philippine interim champion Milan Melindo walks back to a corner as Japanese champion Akira Yaegashi falls down on the mat after being knocked down in the first round of their IBF light flyweight boxing unified champion match in Tokyo, Sunday, May 21, 2017. Melindo knocked out Yaegashi in the round to win the title. (AP Photo/Toru Takahashi)

No prefight odds were given, but tiny Milan Melindo of the Philippines, never noted as a big-puncher, was the definite underdog. His record showed Melindo had registered 12 stoppages in 36 wins, only a little over 30 percent.

With two failed tries for a world crown, the balding Melindo, 29, had also been classified in one boxing website as someone on the way down. There, in fact, were concerned calls Melindo should consider retirement if he failed in his third crack at a world title.

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With Melindo’s sensational first-round stoppage of the highly regarded Akira Yaegashi, who was making a third defense of the IBF light flyweight crown, rose another Filipino boxing star.

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It was an explosive victory that opened great possibilities for the hardworking native of Cagayan de Oro, who had to plod very long and hard to reach the top.

After the big win, it was reported Monday that Melindo has expressed a wish to fight in the Olympics to fulfill a longtime dream of winning the first Olympic gold for the Philippines.

A man most shocked at the sensational stoppage was veteran Japanese boxing journalist Joe Koizumi, a many time Manila visitor, who said Yaegashi was noted for his durability and gameness.

There were three stages to the demolition, as narrated by Koizumi: After a tentative start against the hard-pressing Yaegashi, Melindo connected with a well-timed left hook, thereby sending the defending champion down. Melindo repeated the same left hook against the still unstable Yaegashi, flooring him a second time. The tough Japanese got up and fought recklessly, proving a helpless target, before the referee stopped the contest at 2:45 of the opening round.

Later, Melindo would confide that he was most surprised at the early stoppage and was prepared to slug it out for 12 rounds. However, he said he felt he had shaken his foe with an uppercut followed by a body shot before he poured it all out.

The respected sportsman Tony Aldeguer, godfather of the famed ALA Boxing Stable in Cebu, was not exactly surprised at how the sharply methodical Melindo finally succeeded in unveiling long dormant power.

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“We concentrated on his power for the conditioning,” Aldeguer told the Inquirer.
Aldeguer said a choice defense could be next for Melindo, now solidly mature, loaded and wielding a well-rounded arsenal.

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(PHILETS CELEBRATION: Tony and Annie Roxas extend an invitation to the 20th Philets Foundation Day, 2 p.m. today, at the UST Philets Alumni office, 3rd Floor, Thomasian Alumni Center. There will be a launch of the Philets Library-Museum showcasing works by writers from the fabled Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Santo Tomas.)

TAGS: Boxing, Milan Melindo

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