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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Who is Todd Makelim?

By Joaquin Henson
04 Feb 2017

A former Australian flyweight and bantamweight champion was in the corner of IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas for his first defense of the crown against Mexican challenger Jose Alfredo Rodriguez at the Cotai Arena in the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Macau last Sunday.

So what was Todd Makelim, who incidentally isn’t Australian and is in fact, half-American, half-Filipino, doing in Ancajas’ corner with Joven Jimenez, Rey Dulay and Drian Francisco?

“I’ve been supporting Jerwin for at least seven years,” said Makelim who turned 48 last Friday. “It’s incredible how I hooked up with him. Back in 2000 when Sydney hosted the Olympics, I worked with (former Australian world champion and boxing legend) Jeff Fenech in his gym and a lot of the Olympic boxers from different countries came over to do training and sparring. That’s when I met Danilo and Arlan Lerio who represented the Philippines in the Olympics. I sparred with Arlan who later put me in touch with Joven who then got me in contact with Jerwin.”

Makelim said in 2005, Ancajas’ brother Jesar was in Australia for six fights. Jesar is now 34 and retired in 2015 with a pro record of 15-27-2, with 7 KOs, after losing 13 straight outings. Jesar won only once in his Australian campaign, beating Adrian Campbell on a majority six-round decision. In his career, Jesar logged eight fights in Indonesia, seven in Thailand, six in Australia and one in Japan. He was a favorite whipping boy in foreign rings. “Jesar told me about his younger brother Jerwin, who was about 14 at the time, and that he would someday become a world champion,” recalled Makelim. “I never imagined that 11 years later, I would be in Jerwin’s corner for the first defense of his IBF title.”

Ancajas, 25, is one of three children. Aside from Jesar, he has a sister Jean. His parents separated when he was three but he keeps close ties with both. Ancajas recently bought a house for his father, now debilitated from a spinal injury suffered in a motorcycle accident three years ago, in Panabo City where they’re from. His next project is to buy a house for his mother.

It was Makelim who provided Ancajas with a brand new pair of Nike boxing shoes for the Rodriguez fight. “I support Jerwin and other Filipino boxers because I’m half-Filipino and I love boxing,” he said. “I don’t do it for the money. I live in Australia but I plan to settle in Carabao Island right next to Boracay in about five years. I intend to set up a stable of promising Filipino boxers whom I could train and develop to become world champions like Manny Pacquiao and Jerwin.”

Makelim will never forget his close encounter with Pacquiao in Kidapawan in 1999. His previous fight was a win over Filipino Max Barro in Sydney nine months before and it was a chance of a lifetime to face Pacquiao who had just won the WBC flyweight title via an eighth round stoppage of Chatchai Sasakul in Thailand. Pacquiao took on Makelim in a non-title bout and finished him off in three rounds. A year later, Makelim was back in the country to battle Jovy Chan at the Araneta Coliseum. He didn’t last long against Chan and was knocked out in a single round. Makelim returned to action the next year and fought Baby Jake Matlala for the vacant WBU lightflyweight crown in South Africa. He was stopped in four rounds and it was his last outing as a pro.

Makelim said he’s proud of his Filipino heritage. His grandfather Alejandro Taban was a POW for three years during World War II. After the war, his grandfather moved to San Francisco as a privilege for a veteran soldier who fought alongside US forces. His mother married an American Marine in San Francisco where he was born. When Makelim was four, his parents split up. According to Makelim, his father was a “chick boy.” His mother later met an Australian Navyman who became his stepfather. Makelim and his two brothers relocated to Australia with their mother and stepfather. Makelim stayed in Australia until he was eight and returned to San Francisco.

“From being a straight A student, I was exposed to gangs in San Francisco and it wasn’t a good life,” he said. “So when I was 12, I went back to Australia.” It wasn’t until Makelim was 25 when he turned pro. After hanging up his gloves at the age of 32 in 2001, Makelim turned to training fighters in Australia, mostly Filipino journeymen one of whom was Danilo Lerio, the Sydney Olympian he met in 2000. Makelim’s pro record was 10-7, with 7 KOs.

Makelim said he was impressed with Ancajas’ showing against Rodriguez. The Mexican repeatedly bored in to trigger a brawl but the Filipino was content to pile up points with his jab and combinations from a distance. At the start of the eighth round, Puerto Rican referee Roberto Ramirez stopped the bout on the advice of two ringside physicians who ruled Rodriguez unfit to continue because of a right shoulder injury.
“Jerwin fought smart,” said Makelim. “He completely outboxed Rodriguez. His defense was very good, he was relaxed and battled like a champion. He’s progressing but he’s still two or three fights away from fighting someone like (WBC superflyweight champion) Chocolatito (Roman Gonzalez).”

Gonzalez is a headliner in the US market and Ancajas’ ticket to a big money fight. There’s a long queue of fighters waiting to take on the unbeaten Nicaraguan and the list includes another Filipino, former IBF flyweight champion Johnriel Casimero. Someday, Ancajas will take his turn against Gonzalez and when that happens, you can be sure Makelim will be in his corner again.

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