By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Although his inspiration, pound-for-pound king and “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao won’t be at special ringside when Richie Mepranum (22-2-1, 5 KO’s) guns for the WBO world flyweight title against Mexico’s Julio Cesar “Pingo” Miranda (31-5-1, 24 KO’s) at the Convention Center in Puebla, Mexico on Saturday, the skilled counter-puncher from Sarangani province has the talent to give the Philippines another world title.
There was a report earlier in the week that Mepranum had hurt his hand while training but Pacquiao’s adviser Michael Koncz informed us that Mepranum is in Mexico and there’s been no information regarding any injury that could hamper his title fight aspirations.
Among the respected boxing people who believes Mepranum has a 50-50 chance to win the title is well-known international promoter Fernando Beltran who played host to Pacquiao and his family in Mexico where they had what Pacquiao adviser Michael Koncz described as a fabulous vacation.
It was Beltran who informed us that Pacquiao was returning to Manila on Sunday morning Manila Time and would not be able to watch the fight “live” in Mexico although the WBC had issued a news release claiming Pacquiao would watch the title fight as well as WBC light flyweight champion Rodel Mayol’s title rematch with Omar Nino Romero the following week.
Beltran told us he thinks Mepranum “is a better fighter” but mentioned his lack of punching power which gives Miranda a chance since he does have power as evidenced by his 24 knockouts in 31 wins.
No matter what Beltran predicted that “no matter what happens its going to be a great fight” and said the odds were even.
Mepranum has an impressive ten round decision against devastating puncher Hernan “Tyson” Marquez who had 20 knockouts in 27 wins and was undefeated when he faced the Filipino last March 12 in Dallas, Texas, under his belt.
The confidence that comes from completely out-boxing Marquez should help Mepranum although his opponent “Pingo” Miranda is an experienced fighter who has faced some of the best flyweights and is coming off a solid 3rd round TKO over Faustino Cupul (22-2, 16 KO’s) to win the vacant Latin title last April 10.Miranda also scored a spectacular 1st round knockout over former world champion.