International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight interim champion Milan “El Metodico” Melindo of Cebu City said that he is keen on fighting Japanese IBF regular champion Akira Yaegashi next year.
Melindo, 28, said the IBF is preparing to set up a mandatory fight against Yaegashi to determine the true world champion in the IBF light flyweight class.
Melindo (35-2 win-loss record with 12 knockouts) beat the 23-year-old Teeraphong Utaida (31-5-1 record with 16 knockouts) of Thailand via unanimous decision for the interim IBF belt last November 26 at the Cebu Coliseum in his hometown Cebu City.
“I really like to fight the regular champion, that’s my ultimate goal next year,” Melindo told The Manila Times. “I learned a lot from that last fight. I was able to do what I needed [to do]in my last fight which I failed to do during my two previous losses.”
Melindo lost twice in his first world title attempts—first against former World Boxing Organization (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada in July 27, 2013. The second was against Mexican Javier Mendoza via technical decision in May 30, 2015 in Mexico.
“I’m really happy that I’ am now a world champion. I worked very hard to win this world title,” he added. “My fans were watching and I was able to unleash my killer instinct during that fight. I didn’t knock him out because he’s too strong but I badly beaten him.”
He explained that he became interim champion because Yaegashi did not defend his title against him late this year because of an injury he sustained last August. The situation prompted IBF to order an interim world title bout between him and Utaida last November 26.
“If I beat him (Yaegashi) next year, I will become the regular IBF world champion. There will be no more interim [champion],” explained Melindo. “But if ever Yaegashi declines to defend the title, he’ll be stripped of that title and I will be named as champion.”
Yaegashi, 33, is holding a 24-5 win-loss record with 12 knockouts.
Melindo said he is more comfortable fighting as a light flyweight than as a flyweight, which is his original weight.
“Yes, I’m faster and stronger here in the light flyweight than in the flyweight division. I can move quickly and relax. I still have that punching power.”
“There are more opportunities for me here in the light flyweight than in the flyweight,” he added.
“At the same time, Donnie Nietes is also campaigning in the flyweight rank that’s why I don’t like to go up there. But if ever Donnie decides to chase Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzales in the super flyweight, then it is time to return to the flyweight rank.”
The undefeated Nicaraguan Gonzales (46-0 record with 38 knockouts) is the reigning World Boxing Council super flyweight champion.