By David P. Greisman
Not every Filipino southpaw welterweight is alike.
No fighter from the Philippines this era can evade the shadow of Manny Pacquiao. Mark Melligen had more to worry about than that Friday night in San Antonio – he couldn’t evade the pressure and the punches of Sebastian Lujan.
The bruising brawler broke down Melligen, knocking him down one time each in the sixth, seventh, eight and ninth rounds, the final flooring giving Lujan the technical knockout victory.
Melligen started strong, throwing jabs and left crosses and hooking to the body, keeping the fight at a comfortable distance from Lujan, whose punches are wide but compact and need an opponent within shorter range in order to land.
A clash of heads in the second round opened a cut above Melligen’s right eye. Lujan didn’t just see blood – he smelled it, with his pressure style gradually wearing away Melligen’s resistance.
First Melligen gave up on the jab, allowing Lujan to get inside, where his clubbing shots started to chip away bit by bit. Melligen knew he wouldn’t be able to get rid of Lujan and would have to conserve energy. That, however, meant he’d also have to take more punishment.
Lujan let Melligen know in the fourth round just how much trouble would be coming. Lujan cranked up the volume and threw a total of 142 punches in those three minutes, landing 39, which was more than he’d landed in the previous three rounds combined.
Toward the end of the round, Lujan dropped his gloves and walked forward in front of Melligen, sending a not-so-subtle message: “You don’t have anything that can hurt me. I’m still here and have so much more coming your way.”
Melligen tried moving and dodging more in the fifth, and into the sixth he sought to pick the right time to load up on shots. None of that was dissuading Lujan, whose offense makes up in pain what it lacks in pretty.
Then, with about a minute left in the sixth, Lujan led with a jab and followed with a right hand. Melligen, moving to his left against the ropes, put himself in the path of the shot and was subsequently put to the canvas, rising just before the referee’s count reached nine.
Melligen tried to bounce back in the seventh, but he had neither the power nor the speed to stop the inevitable. After Melligen landed a left uppercut, Lujan taunted him, then turned him around on the ropes and landed punches of his own. In the final 30 seconds, Lujan threw an extended combination of punches, including a right hand and a left hook that contributed to the second knockdown of the bout. Melligen got up at the count of eight.
The end of the eighth was more of the same. This time Lujan landed a right hand upstairs and a left hook to the body. Melligen went to the canvas again, getting up at eight and surviving the few remaining seconds.
The tidal wave had drawn him into deep water. He’d soon succumb.
The final knockdown actually followed a missed right hand in the opening minute of the ninth. But by that point Lujan had broken Melligen physically and mentally. The punches would keep coming so long as Melligen was standing, and so Melligen collapsed wearily, dropping down and ending up on his back on the mat.
The referee immediately waved the fight off. The time of the stoppage was 45 seconds into the round.
Lujan, who came in on eight days’ notice, wins his 12th fight in a row and is now 38-5-2 with 24 knockouts and one no contest. With two losses in past title challenges (to Antonio Margarito and Sergiy Dzinziruk), he remains ranked and in contention for a third shot. He is rugged and limited when compared to the cream of the 147-pound division, but the 31-year-old from Argentina is good enough to be seen back on television screens again.
As for Melligen, the 25-year-old is now 21-3 with 13 knockouts, and this loss should have him thinking hard about the future of his career.
On the televised undercard of this ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” broadcast, lightweight prospect Mickey Bey scored a fourth-round technical knockout over Alejandro Rodriguez.
Bey’s amateur background includes a win in the 2004 U.S. Olympic box-offs, but his run ended when he came down with pneumonia. The six-year pro’s pedigree showed quickly against Rodriguez, with his advantages in hand speed and technique apparent from the outset.
Bey established distance by doubling up the jab. He also would lead with a jab or a sweeping left hook and then follow either with a crisp right cross. Rodriguez attempted to evade but pulled straight back, keeping himself in range for Bey’s power punches.
When Rodriguez attempted to close the distance, he’d be punished with hard counter right hands. And even when Rodriguez got in range, Bey easily blocked or dodged Rodriguez’s wider shots.
Rodriguez became wary of Bey. He had good reason. The end wasn’t far away.
About two minutes into the fourth round, Bey countered a lazy Rodriguez jab with a sharp right hand that crashed into the left side of Rodriguez’s face. Rodriguez went to the canvas on both knees, rising at the count of eight.
Before any more punches could be thrown, however, Rodriguez showed that his legs weren’t yet beneath him. He wobbled back drunkenly, dropping to the canvas once again to support himself. The referee promptly waved the action off.
The time of the stoppage was 2:10.
Bey, a 28-year-old from Cleveland, improves to 17-0-1 with 9 knockouts. Rodriguez, a 23-year-old out of Guadalajara, Mexico, lost his third straight bout, falling to 12-4 with 6 knockouts.
The swing bout saw three minutes of offense-centric action between lightweights Ivan Najera and Pedro Martinez, with Najera getting in more punishment. Martinez went back to his corner complaining of pain in his right wrist; the fight ended in the corner.
Najera is now 2-0 with 2 KOs. Martinez is now 2-1 with 1 KO.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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