By Chris Robinson
At its best, boxing has a way of lifting us in an almost magical way, whether you are a fighter in the ring or someone closely connected to the sport in general. But just as the highs are heroic, so too can the lows be devastating.
On Friday night ‘Mighty’ Mark Melligen suffered a very humbling defeat when he was ultimately worn down and smothered by Argentinean strongman Sebastian Lujan in San Antonio in a welterweight clash. The Bacolod City native got off to a fast start, scraping up the first three rounds with activity but appeared to fade in the fourth and would eventually be dropped in rounds six, seven, eight, and finally in the ninth, when the bout was waived off by referee Ruben Carrion.
The talented southpaw Melligen sees his record fall to 21-3 with 14 knockouts and has some soul searching to do after this most recent blemish, which came in the wake of a five-fight winning streak that had started to get him some decent acclaim. Reflecting on his charge’s defeat, trainer Tony Martin was taking the loss in stride but still a bit miffed at how the fight played out.
“We gave him instructions to box the guy, because we knew fully well that there was no way that he could slug it out with this type of guy,” Martin stated with respect of Lujan. “He’s too strong and too tough. So we asked Mark to box, which he did for at least three, four rounds. But for some reason Melligen had pressure on him and he started to fade. I don’t know what it was; he just lost his stamina or something like that. I really don’t know.”
Martin was quick to point out that Melligen’s courage and fortitude certainly were intact, as evidenced by his willingness to brave the storm.
“He did get up three times from the floor, which says something. But to me he just didn’t have it in him. Whether or not his focus was there, we’re not for certain. Only he knows that himself,” a blunt Martin stated.
Originally born in East London before venturing to the Philippines and eventually Las Vegas, Martin has a special kind of candor about him and won’t be one to sugarcoat things with you during talks. He knows all too well how much this recent defeat could impact Melligen’s career and life in general.
“We just have to go back to the drawing board and he really has to focus on his future and where he stands with Top Rank,” Martin stated of the sport’s number one promotional entity. “Because quite honestly I don’t think Top Rank will use him again. Top Rank in general are really unforgiving, they don’t want their fighters to lose. And Mark knew full well the importance of this fight and should have trained extra hard and gone that extra mile to show that he could do it.”
What was a bit surprising to me was the fact that Melligen, who spends his camps training out of Floyd Mayweather’s personal facility in Las Vegas, arrived to town on June 12th, leaving him with just a few weeks of training before venturing to Texas. While Melligen certainly stays on his toes while working out in the city of Cebu in his native Philippines, Martin admits that he would have loved to have some more time with his fighter leading up to the fight.
“Personally I would have liked to have him at least a month, but I have to go by the orders of the boss of ALA Promotions, who stated quite fairly that he needed to go through a conditioning program, which he was supposed to go through. As far as I know the conditioning program was good but that’s all I know. Quite honestly I would have liked for him to be here four weeks, six weeks so he could have gotten good, hard sparring,” said Martin.
Dealing with defeat is never the easiest of burdens, especially when your emotions are tied to someone who has become like family to you. And in closing Martin couldn’t stop himself from pondering what the immediate future could have been yet still realizes that Melligen’s shortcomings weren’t without an honest effort.
“Well I told him, even before the fight, that this was so important, this fight. You’re going on to a world stage and it’s not just a question of if you win it’s how you win. And if you do well his potential could skyrocket and he’d be up in the top ten in the world and he could go from there. I kept pressing on him that he should do his best but his best wasn’t good enough.”