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INSIDE SPORTS

By Ronnie Nathanielsz


INSIDE SPORTS - "MELINDO A CLASS ACT"

PhilBoxing.com
Sat, 03 Aug 2013



There are times in the world of boxing that a loser in many ways turns out to be a winner in that while he may not get the judges? decision in the ring, the manner in which he fought the good fight and the style with which he conducted himself outside the ring and the things he said after losing, make him a winner among the often discerning media and more importantly the fans.
ALA Promotions Milan Melindo has always impressed us not merely as a technically sound fighter with loads of courage but a disciplined, well-behaved, intelligent young man who conducts himself both inside and outside the ring with more than a touch of class.

Melindo fought the fight of his life against the tough Mexican WBO/WBA flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada at the plush Cotai Arena at the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Macau and although he lost by a unanimous decision he fought gallantly against a great champion who had an advantage in height and reach and was ? like he was when he won the titles from Brian Viloria ? in superb physical condition.

In the end perhaps this, as well as a cut he suffered in the seventh round, turned the tide against Melindo who, upto the eighth round was ahead on most peoples unofficial scorecards although the three judges saw it differently. As astute Top Rank promoter Bob Arum asked, ?what fight were they watching??
We ourselves didn?t contest the decision because the last four rounds clearly belonged to Estrada and the knockdown in round eleven when Melindo got caught with a right hand he failed to see because of the blood in his eye and the bad beating he took in the eleventh round which, even though there was no knockdown could have been scored 10-8 in favor of Estrada, just like a knockdown. But the scorecards of the judges which respected international referee Bruce McTavish branded as ?ridiculous? once again raised serious questions about both the competence and the bias of some judges.

We ourselves complained to the exuberant WBO president Francisco ?Paco? Valcarcel who admitted the scorecards didn?t reflect the closeness of the fight which was a view shared by one of the best third men in the ring today, Raul Caiz Sr.
What the judges decision did was to draw attention to Melindo and the impressive showing that delighted the fans and of course Bob Arum who promised he would give Melindo another shot at a world title in the future.

In a post fight conversation with ABS-CBN?s Dyan Castillejo and myself who covered the fight for the giant broadcast network where, despite the next morning telecast on Channel 2, rated a remarkable 21 percent nationwide with much higher ratings in the Visayas and Mindanao which are now the hotbeds of boxing, Arum described Milan as ?a good fighter with a good punch and a crowd-pleasing style? which is essential in these days when fight fans demand such attributes.

Indeed, Melindo showed he can punch and hurt Estrada in rounds three and five and was in control, certainly over the first five rounds.

It was an almost identical scenario in the Viloria fight where Brian made the mistake of changing tactics and trying to slug it out which favored the well-conditioned Mexican.

However, in the case of Melindo, the cut and the blood bothered him and he thought the fight would slip away so he decided to try and go for a knockout which left him open for Estrada?s counters. Besides it was clear the Mexican?s corner adapted to the situation, had him move around and made things a little more difficult for Melindo.

The pride of Cagayan de Oro and indeed the pride of the Philippines among quite a few led by ?Fighter of the Decade? Manny Pacquiao, conceded that he lost and commended Estrada for being the better fighter on that night in Macau. But, like true champions do, Milan promised to learn from his mistakes and return to the ring a much better fighter.

McTavish, for whom we have a great deal of respect put it best when he told us, ?Melindo is a class act. He has got all the potential in the world to come back and he?s still young. He fought a champion who was at the top of his game and probably had the best fight of his life -- at the wrong time for Melindo. I wish it were an eight round fight, we would have had a world champion!?



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