Moment of truth for Melindo


tolentinoMilan “El Metodico” Melindo honestly believes that Brian Viloria employed the correct strategy when he fought Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada in April, only the “Hawaiian Punch” failed to sustain it and consequently ended up losing his World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight (112 pounds) titles on a split-decision.

On Saturday, in Macau, China, it will be Melindo’s turn to test Estrada’s mettle and the 25-year-old challenger from Cagayan de Oro plans to take a page off the strategy used by Viloria and improve on it.

“Si Estrada pang 12 rounds na fighter talaga siya, pero hindi naman kasi nagawa ni Viloria ng buong-buo yung istilo niya eh,” Melindo told this writer. “Nakita ko na pag tinitira ni Viloria si Estrada ng body shots, umaatras si Estrada. Kaya lang, after ng ilang rounds, nawala ang body shot ni Viloria.”

Viloria dominated Estrada in the first three rounds of their contest by using good counters and punishing body shots. By the middle rounds, however, Viloria abandoned the strategy as he was forced into fierce toe-to-toe exchanges by Estrada. The shift in strategy drained Viloria’s fuel tank and in the last four rounds Estrada was constantly beating him to the punch. Viloria was on wobbly legs in the 12th and final round as Estrada finished with gusto and won the WBA-WBO flyweight crowns with a split-decision win.

Melindo, 29-0 with 12 knockouts, is confident of sustaining his offensive assaults for the entire duration of the fight. Compared to Viloria who was already an ancient 32 years old when he lost to Estrada, Melindo is coming to the fight with younger legs and an insatiable thirst to become a world champion.

Melindo has been the No.1 ranked flyweight contender in the WBO for some time now and for awhile it appeared he was on a collision course with Viloria. In an ironic twist, Melindo now intends to avenge his fallen countryman.

“Complete na po ang training ko,” said Melindo. “At sa lahat naman po ng laban ko, pinag-aaralan ko po ang kalaban ko. Ngayong world championship na, gagawin ko na po ang lahat ng pinag-aaralan ko.”

Impeaching the 23-year-old Estrada doesn’t figure to be a breeze. Estrada, 24-2 with 18 knockouts, has never knocked out in his career and boasts of a pesky style. He loves to move around the ring and owns a good left jab-double right hook combination.

Last November, Estrada displayed a granite chin when he went the full 12-round distance against Nicaraguan power puncher and then WBA light flyweight king Roman Gonzalez. Against Viloria, Estrada showed that is not hesitant to leave his bicycle and engage in brutal slugfests. On the inside, Estrada packs powerful uppercuts.

Being the shorter fighter, Melindo will have to press the action and move his head well enough to get under Estrada’s jab. Handling fleet-footed boxers is not exactly Melindo’s specialty. Last September 22, the Filipino came out smoking and nearly took out in one round former WBA interim flyweight champion Jean Piero Perez of Venezuela. Perez survived the early assault and made the fight very interesting when he started throwing the jab and employing lateral movement. Melindo never seriously threatened again and was extremely lucky to escape with a majority decision win.

Melindo claims that he has learned from his mistakes and vows to fight with renewed intensity against Estrada. He intends to zero in on Estrada’s body to slow down the champion and counter well to force him to abandon the jab. It’s not going to be easy, but Melindo has declared himself fit and ready to wage war. He waited this long for the title and there is definitely no turning back. “”One hundred percent ready na po ako,” mused Melindo.

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