by Ronnie Nathanielsz
WBO minimumweight champion Merlito “Tiger”Sabillo knows he won’t have an easy title defense against Mexico’s Francisco Rodriguez Jr in Monterrey, Mexico on Saturday in a fight to be telecast by ABS-CBN Sports and Action over the revamped Studio 23.
ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer told the Manila Standard that Sabillo watched tapes of Rodriguez’ fights “a number of times” and concedes “it won’t be an easy fight because Rodriguez can box, he is technical fighter who is smart and can punch” as shown in his record of 9 knockouts in 13 wins with just two defeats.
Aldeguer said that he had spoken to trainer Edito “Ala” Villamor who will be in the corner of Sabillo and that he was informed “training has been perfect and it was the best training camp they ever had.”
Villamor told us that they have been concentrating on “the battle plan after watching tapes and doing some instructional punch-mitts.” He also went through the regular routine of skipping rope, shadow boxing., working om the speed ball and light bagging.”
In his strength and conditioning regimen Sabillo swam in the pool, some plyometrics, sprints, balancing and some exercises on his body to relax his muscles.”
He said they worked on the conditioning of the undefeated southpaw with strength and conditioning coach Nick Carson and that Sabillo who possesses a vicious left hook was in great shape.
Aldeguer said Sabillo, the 30 year old former street fighter from Bacolod City who is undefeated with a record of 23-0-1 with 12 knockouts “wants to make a statement and while it won’t be an easy fight Sabillo is ready to go.”
The ALA Promotions outfit didn’t take any chances and Aldeguer told us “ that’s why Merlito flew to the US to train abroad for this fight” both at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles and in the Daniel Ponce De Leon gym .
He said Sabillo has been “tapering down in San Diego and getting ready for the fight.” He will be joined by ALA Promotions vice president Dennis Canete who left for the US on Saturday night and will join the team to Mexico.
Knowing how dangerous a challenger Rodriguez is, Aldeguer said thay have “two options and in case Sabillo loses there will be a rematch.”
He said “we have everything prepared and if he does well it will be good for his career.”
Sabillo is coming off a close split draw against undefeated Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua at the Araneta Coliseum last November 30 after scoring a one-punch, 9th round knockout with a thunderous left hook to the ribs against Colombia’s Jorlie Estrada.
The 20 year old Rodriguez won a 5th round technical decision over Ernesto Guerrero who suffered an apparent rib injury last January 18 after going down by a 7th round TKO to Roman Gonzalez, the undefeated WBA light flyweight champion from Nicaragua on September 21 last year.
Rodriguez also had two big wins prior to the loss to Gonzales, scoring a 3rd round TKO over Manuel Chango” Vargas on January 26, 2013 and a 5th round TKO over Victor Ruiz on July 13.