By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Milan Melindo showed his stuff when he bucked a deep cut below his left eyebrow in the 8th round to edge former WBO world interim flyweight champion Jean Piero Perez of Venezuela by a majority twelve round decision before a jam-packed Pacific Ballroom at the Waterfront Hotel & Casino in Cebu City, Saturday night.
The ALA Promotions card was presented in cooperation with the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN which telecast the fights on Sunday morning over Channel 2 with a replay in the evening over Studio 23.
Judge Salven Lagumbay scored the fight even at 114-114 while Edward Ligas 116-112 and Tony Pesons 115-113 enabled Melindo to escape with a majority decision and to retain his unbeaten record which improved to 28-0 with 11 knockouts.
With blood dripping into his left eye Melindo told BoxingScene.com/Manila Standard he could only see with one eye and had a hard time avoiding the right straight of Perez whose confidence grew after he saw Melindo bleeding and began to assert himself with excellent straight lefts and rights.
Melindo’s corner worked feverishly to attend to the cut and had no time to advise Melindo on how to counter the fast hands and the quick lateral movements of Perez who constantly used his head movement to prevent himself from being tagged.
Melindo hurt Perez in the opening round with a big left hook and continued to pound the Venezuelan’s body with vicious blows in the early rounds and although Perez jabbed effectively, Melindo nailed the challenger with some big body shots in round five capped by a left to the side of the head.
Referee Bruce McTavish cautioned Perez not to hit with the inside of the glove in round five before a big right by Melindo in the next round stopped Perez in his tracks before he caught him with a good left and right combination to end round seven.
The tide turned rather dramatically after Melindo suffered a nasty cut in round eight as Perez had his best round of the fight in the ninth and McTavish was forced to take a look at Melindo’s cut at the end of the round.
Perez tagged Melindo with some well-timed punches in round ten but Melindo dug deep and forced Perez to backpedal after he connected with a cracking left hook in the penultimate round.
Both fighters appeared to fade in the final round and embraced each other when the bell sounded to end what had been the toughest test for Melindo who is ranked No. 1 by the WBO and is eyeing a world title fight against fellow Filipino champion Brian Viloria.
Cebu’s respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer told us Melindo “was too confident and thought he could knock out Perez” which Melindo himself admitted at dinner. He apologized and said “it won’t happen again, I promise.”
Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation flyweight champion Rocky “Road Warrior” Fuentes made his fifth successful defense of his title against a resilient Japanese mandatory challenger Hyung Ho Lee, winning a comfortable twelve round unanimous decision by scores of 117-111, 117-112 and 116-112.
Fuentes continuously pounded Lee with devastating body shots that hurt the challenger but he never went down, his spirits lifted by a contingent of 32 Japanese supporters who chanted his name throughout the fight although in the ring it made no difference.
After a feeling out opening round Fuentes went to work in the next catching Lee with a looping left followed by an uppercut, a left hook to the head and a right to the body.
The champion continued to hammer the challenger to dominate the first five rounds before Lee, in one furious exchange tagged Fuentes with a stinging right hand that wobbled him for a moment before the Filipino came back and cracked Lee with a huge right although the Japanese tried to pretend he wasn’t hurt.
Another straight right caught Fuentes who appeared to be keen on scoring a knockout before another thundering left hook by Fuentes stunned Lee once again in round eight. In round nine Lee’s mouthpiece went flying during a terrific exchange after which the champion continued to maul the challenger who, when he looked in deep trouble in the final round, clung to Fuentes and survived.
With the win Fuentes improved to 34-6-2 with 20 knockouts bwhile Myung Ho Lee dropped to 15-2 with 6 knockouts.