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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Deduction costly for Jerusalem in title bid

By Joaquin Henson
27 Jan 2017

A point deduction for a low blow provided WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin the cushion to score a close but unanimous 12-round decision over previously unbeaten Bukidnon challenger Melvin (Gringo) Jerusalem in Phitsanulok, Thailand, last Wednesday.

Referee Celestino Ruiz of Chicago docked a one-point penalty on Jerusalem in the eighth round for a blow below the belt. Ruiz had warned Jerusalem for a low blow in the second round. Writer James Goyder of said the deduction “seemed a little harsh … given that the sole warning came much earlier in the fight, it was a surprise although replays showed the foul was blatant.”

Without the deduction, the outcome would’ve been a majority draw and Jerusalem’s unblemished record would’ve been preserved. But even with a draw, Menayothin would’ve retained the title in his sixth defense. As it turned out, judges Frank Hadley of Australia and Steve Morrow of California scored it 114-113 while judge Jae Kong Kim of South Korea saw it 115-113, all for the Thai.

“If the fight were held elsewhere, Melvin would have won,” said ALA Boxing CEO Tony Aldeguer. “A lot of fans who watched the fight on livestream thought it was a robbery. Others felt it should’ve been at least a draw. The deduction was the insurance for the Thai since the fight was close.” Two of the three judges had previously worked in Menayothin’s title bouts. It was Kim’s third and Hadley’s second assignment so they’re regular customers.

Menayothin’s manager Piyarat Wachirarattanawong said two factors that favored the Thai were his experience and the hometown advantage. Jerusalem, 22, was only 12 years old when Menayothin, 31, turned pro in 2007. Before his pro debut, Menayothin fought in 100 muay fights. He started muay fighting at 12 when Jerusalem was a year old. The win raised the Thai’s record to 45-0, with 17 KOs while Jerusalem’s slate dipped to 11-1, with 7 KOs.

Jerusalem said he’d like a rematch. “You can’t win a decision in a close fight against a Thai in Thailand,” he said in Pilipino. “You have to score a knockout. I gave it my all. I was aggressive. My coaches (Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo) told me to go all out in the last 10 seconds of every round. In the first round, I hurt him with a left hook. He never hurt me. I can take his power. It will be different in a rematch even if it’s in Thailand.”

Jerusalem got off to a strong start, sending Menayothin reeling backwards with a left hook in the opening round. The three judges gave him the first two rounds. But Menayothin took control starting the third stanza, boring in to take away Jerusalem’s distance. The judges saw it even after four rounds as divulged to the public under the WBC’s open scoring system where the totals are announced after the fourth and eighth rounds.

Jerusalem was awarded three of the last four rounds by the judges but it wasn’t enough to overhaul Menayothin’s lead that was buoyed by the point deduction. Jerusalem led in two of the three scorecards after five rounds before the Thai pulled away.

Jerusalem said he was thrown off-rhythm in the middle rounds by Menayothin’s muay tactics. “He kept pushing me down,” complained Jerusalem. “He wasn’t even given a warning for wrestling.”

Villamor, who worked Jerusalem’s corner with Domingo, said the crowd was impressed with how the challenger pushed Menayothin to the limit despite his inexperience. “We’re proud of Melvin,” he said. “If the fight were in a neutral place like Macau, Melvin would’ve won the decision. In Thailand, the fans are so loud and they influence the judges. The WBC supervisors (Tsuyoshi Yashukochi of Japan and Surapote Phongjivanich of Thailand) told me they will recommend to retain Melvin’s ranking (No. 9) and to give him another chance. They think he will become a world champion someday.”

Villamor said the plan was to counter Menayothin and move side-to-side to negate his plodding style. “We expected Menayothin to come in,” said Villamor. “So Melvin countered, used his jab and went to the body. The problem was Menayothin kept holding, clinching and pushing Melvin down and the referee let him get away with it. After the fight, Menayothin’s manager offered to co-promote Melvin with ALA so I think that’s an indication of how well he fought.”

Aldeguer said ex-WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley’s former manager Lee Bates, a matchmaker, sent this e-mail: “Very strong performance by Jerusalem. I would love to see him as a mandatory challenger and have the same fight in the Philippines or see him against another of the world champions but in the Philippines. I’m so proud of your fighter. For him to step up like this as the visitor and being so young, I’m impressed. Going into this fight, I was optimistic but now, I’m even more impressed.”

Photo: World title challenger Melvin 'Gringo' Jerusalem (with medallion) was welcomed by world champions Donnie Nietes (L-front row) and Milan Melindo (R, front row) and other stablemates upon his arrival in Cebu Thursday night.

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