Melvin “Gringo” Jerusalem winning the World Boxing Council (WBC) minimum weight (105 lbs.) title Wednesday would have made for a great feel-good story, but the razor-close decision loss that ensued has since put on hold said story.
The 22-year-old Jerusalem, who had dedicated his first world title shot to his late father, put up gritty stand but still dropped a unanimous 12-round decision to defending champion Wanheng Menayothin of Thailand. Jerusalem showed up in the ring with a perfect 11-0 (7 knockouts) record, but it paled in comparison to the 44-0 (17 knockouts) resume of Menayothin. Still, Jerusalem stood his ground and lost only by scores of 115-113, 114-113 and 114-113. Jerusalem was slapped with a one-point deduction in the eighth round because of a low blow. Without the deduction, the fight would have ended in a majority draw with two scorecards dead-even at 114-114. In a stalemate, though, the status quo is observed and the Thai remains the champ.
This writer has covered several fights of Jerusalem in the popular Pinoy Pride series and the kid from Bukidnon definitely packs explosive power. Then again, my concern going into the title fight with Menayothin was Jerusalem’s lack of seasoning. Jerusalem looked sloppy and tentative when he took on former world champ Florante “Little Pacquiao” Condes, his first notable foe, in February 2016 and settled for a mere majority decision win. Jerusalem had gone the full 10-round distance only once before the Menayothin fight and his last fight in 2016 was actually just a six-rounder. Jerusalem’s last three fights before the Thai scuffle all went the distance, implying either diminished confidence or punching power.
While it may be argued that Jerusalem was rushed into the title fight, the fact that he held his own against the established Thai champion provides a positive glimmer. Jerusalem and Menayothin were locked in a tie (38-38) after four rounds before the Thai champ started pulling away. Had Jerusalem scored a knockdown, the complexion, and possibly the outcome, of the fight would have taken a different turn.
Regardless of the result, Jerusalem got the seasoning he needed in the Menayothin fight. He should be the picture of a more confident fighter the next time he surfaces in the ring. With time on his side, he still can realize that feel-good story; complete the trip to Jerusalem so to speak.
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