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By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.

05 Feb 2013

In the next couple of months, two top prospects from Bacolod City, Negros Occidental will be tested in fights that will reveal their true worth and could very well determine the course of their careers.

OPBF minimumweight champion Merlito 'Tiger' Sabillo will have his first overseas battle and best opponent yet when he travels to Colombia to face Luis dela Rosa for the vacant WBO interim minimumweight title on March 9.

The unbeaten Sabillo (21W-0L, 10 KO's) won the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) 105 lb. division title last October 8, 2011 by beating another Filipino, Rodel Tejares by unanimous decision on the undercard of the WBO world light flyweight title bout between Donnie Nietes vs. Ramon Garcia Hirales in Bacolod City.

Sabillo defended his title last year by 7th round knockout against Filipino Jonathan Refugio also in Bacolod. Sabillo beat Indonesian Soffyan Effendi by unanimous decision in a non-title bout at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel last January 2012.
ALA Promotions VP Dennis Cañete has confirmed the match-up. Cañete said that Sabillo will be accompanied by Trainer Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo for the fight set at the Coliseo Mario de León in Cerete, Colombia.

Domingo, a former world ranked contender, retired a couple of months ago and is currently overseeing the training of Sabillo. Cañete said that while negotiating for the WBO lt.flyweight bout between Donnie Nietes and Moises Fuentes here in Cebu, they took the opportunity to talk to Promoter Tuto Zabala to set up this fight.

Dela Rosa (21W-1L-1D, 12KO's) lost a split decision against Raul Garcia of Mexico in 2010 in his first attempt to win the WBO interim minimumweight title. This remains the only loss in Dela Rosa's career. He has knocked out three of his last four opponents.

OPBF superflyweight champion ‘King’ Arthur Villanueva (21W-0L, 12 KO's ) is headed for a showdown against another unbeaten boxer, mandatory challenger Marco Demecillo (18W-0L-1D, 14 KO's) of the RWS Gym of Cebu City.

ALA Promotions CEO Michael Aldeguer said that this match is not yet etched in stone but the camp Promoter Rex ‘Wakee’ Salud, who promotes Demecillo have already initiated talks about this match. Villanueva vs Demecillo could take place this April on the scheduled ‘Pinoy Pride’ event in Davao City.

Cebu boxing writers who have seen both Villanueva and Demecillo in action are divided with their predictions about this match-up. This will be battle between Villanueva’s guile and skill versus Demecillo’s brute force and iron will.

Demecillo fights under the name Marco Singwangcha to honor his Thai sponsor Naris Singwangcha. Demecillo’s finest performance thus far was the third round TKO win over another previously unbeaten fighter, Marvin Mabait, for the Philippine superflyweight title.

Demecillo rose from an opening round knockdown to pummel Mabait with destructive body shots and deck him in the third which led to Mabait’s cornerman signalling that their boxer has had enough.

Villanueva won the vacant title against Taiki Eto of Japan by unanimous decision in a fight held at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo last Dec. 19. Villanueva also showed character in getting up from knockdowns in the first and ninth rounds and knocked Eto down in the 4th, to win a narrow unanimous verdict - 113-112, 114-112 and 113-112.

Villanueva was known for the ring moniker "El Matador" but was billed as "King" Arthur when he beat the experienced Thai Pramunsak Posuwan by unanimous decision at the Waterfront Hotel last September. Another notable local boxer that Villanueva beat was Mark Anthony Geraldo, who lost by six round technical decision in 2011. Geraldo bounced back by beating Jerwin Ancajas last year and got a lofty WBO world ranking.

Three years ago, Both Sabillo and Villanueva became Philippine champions on the same fight card in Bacolod City. Sabillo became Philippine minimumweight champion in 2010 by beating Jetli Purisima by unanimous decision while Villanueva won the Philippine flyweight title by stopping Brix Ray in seven rounds. Both got their big breaks when they were part of the undercards for the 'Pinoy Pride' fight cards of ALA Promotions in 2011.

Sooner or later, every prospect needs to be put to the test, in most cases he will be reassessed after passing the initial trial. We will find out if Sabillo can win on the road. Villanueva already had his crash course in sturdiness in Japan while Demecillo had his gut-check in Mactan against Mabait. Their looming April title bout will determine who is better and tougher.

PHOTO – Merlito Sabillo (left) and Arthur Villanueva

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