International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight champion Milan Melindo fought gallantly to survive South African challenger Hekkie Budler to retain his title via split decision on Saturday night at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City.
The 29-year-old Cagayan De Oro native scored a knockdown against Budler in the 12th round to the delight of the home crowd but the South African managed to get up and finish the fight.
Going to the scores of the judges, Melindo got the nods of Glenn Trowbridge (115-112) and Takeo Harada (117-110) but Carl Zappia scored the bout 115-113 for Budler.
“It’s a bloody fight. Both fighters have executed very well their game plan and I’m happy that Milan (Melindo) survived Budler’s challenge,” trainer Edito Villamor told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Sunday.
“Budler is also durable and a good fighter. He gave Milan a hell of a fight,” he added.
Melindo improved to 37-2 win-loss record with 13 knockouts,
Both fighters traded punches in the first five rounds and Melindo was hit by a head-butt in the sixth round that wounded his left eyebrow. He was hit by another head-butt by Budler (13-3 record with 10 knockouts) in the 10th round.
Despite the cut and the blood all over his face, Melindo survived the bout and defended his belt.
In other fight results, Jonas Sultan won over former world champion Johnriel Casimero via unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111 and 115-113) to become the mandatory challenger to the IBF super flyweight title of Jerwin Ancajas.
The fight between Jason Pagara (41-2-1 win-loss-draw record with 25 knockouts) and Kenyan James Onyango (23-11-2 record with 19 knockouts ended to a split draw.
“King” Arthur Villanueva scored a third round technical knockout win over his compatriot and two-time world challenger Richie Mepranum, who surrendered after the third round. Villanueva improved his record to 31-2 with 17 knockouts.
Mepranum fell to 31-7-1 record with eight knockouts.