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Boxing View

By Carlos Costa

25 Jul 2013

Mexican WBA/WBO world champion Juan Francisco "El Gallo" Estrada and unbeaten Filipino challenger Milan Melindo grabbed the spotlight today (Thursday) at The Venetian Hotel in Macau as the two top flyweights embark on a make or break battle that might reshape the 112-pound division; a fight that might as well be a fight of the year, as promoter Bob Arum has suggested.

Their fight this Saturday at The Venetian® Macau's Cotai Arena™ is not only for two world title belts of prestigious organizations, but for the attention of boxing fans around the world as their clash will be broadcast live on HBO and other powerful networks around the orb. Indeed, the world wide exposure will be huge.

Therefore, after years battling tough foes, this is a big fight that can not be lost. And, as time draws really close, both fighters appeared in good shape and high spirits, ready for a tough war.

The first fighter to address the excited audience at today's presser was Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 KOs), who was introduced to the Venetian Resort podium by Dennis Cañete, vice president of ALA Boxing Promotions.

"When I first came to Macau, my seat was over there in the back, looking unto the stars of the event and I said to myself that in a near future I would be one of the stars of the show, and here I am," said the 25-year-old Melindo of Cebu, Philippines, who has been training under the guidance of experienced trainers Edito and Edmund Villamor.

Later, it was the Mexican's turn. The world champion said that he prefers to do his talking in the ring, where he expects to emerge victorious. But he expressed some meaningful thoughts

"Melindo is the #1 rated fighter. I'm happy to fight the best. It's a great experience to learn from the best so as to become the # 1," said Estrada.

He added that "training has been similar to the one had for Viloria. But the strategy is different. We'll find out on the top of the ring. But what I know now is that my belts go back with me to Mexico," commented Estrada who was accompanied by his handler Juan Hernández, his girlfriend, his trainer Alfredo Caballero, press officer Brenda Bonilla, Zanfer's Rafael Soto among others.

Importantly, Melindo has never fought a boxer of the quality of Juan Francisco "El Gallo" Estrada.

None of Melindo's past opponents, even former champs Carlos Tamara, Jesus Geles, Muhammad Rachman and Jean Piero Perez, could compare to "El Gallo Estrada, being the Venezuelan Perez the one boxer who came closer to figuring out the way of defeating Melindo. But in the end, Perez could not make it.

In contrast, Estrada has fought opponents of awesome experience and talent such as undefeated super champion Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez - who is one of the best men in the lower divisions - and Brian "The Hawaiian Punch" Viloria, a veteran boxer of undeniable skills.

"It could be a really great fight," commented Leon Panoncillo, WBO Vice president.

Indeed, the fight could be a really tough one for both.

The taller Estrada cold have the edge in quality of opposition and punching power, as well as his ability to counterpunch and his uppercuts combined with good defense are fine; while Melindo has excellent speed, confidence and positive characteristics as a fighter, especially if he sticks to a well-thought game plan, a plan that he could modify with his cornermen as the battle progress.

Hopefully, Melindo's handlers have analyzed the Estrada-Viloria fight to create a suitable offense-defense strategy.

But worrisome, Melindo could fade by in later rounds. Indeed, in different fights - as in his rumble last year with the Venezuelan Perez - Milan's dangerousness level has slowly decreased.

In addition, should Melindo attempt to rumble as a brawler, as he has inexplicably done at times, things could turn complicated for the ALA star. A more "methodical" Melindo would have more chances against he tough Mexican world champion.

The weigh-in will be tomorrow at 3pm at the fight's venue, the Cotai Arena™. Doors open at 2:15pm.

Photos by Carlos Costa.

Estrada (L) and Melindo pose during Thursday's presscon.

Estrada addresses the crowd.

ALA Promotion's Dennis Canete introduces Melindo.

Melindo on the podium.

Estrada and Melindo with other headliners on Saturday's card.

Estrada with hubby.

Estrada poses with the author.

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