STORY OF PHILIPPINE BOXING PART XLIII: MERLITO SABILLO, WBO WORLD MINIMUMWEIGHT CHAMPION
By Maloney L. Samaco
Sat, 30 May 2020
Merlito "Tiger" Sabillo, born on January 19, 1984 in Toboso, Negros Occidental had his professional debut, at age of 24, winning over Powell Balaba by unanimous decision on January 26, 2008.
He went on to win over Junel Busano by UD, Leo Torres by TKO 2nd round, Edcel Tunacao by TKO 3rd round, Steve Demaisip by 5th round KO, Ruther del Castillo by UD, Fabio Marfa by UD, Jetly Purisima by SD and by UD in a rematch, and Roel Honor by UD.
Sabillo again faced Jetly Purisima for their third match, this time for the vacant Philippine Games and Amusement Board minimumweight title which he won again by unanimous decision on August 1, 2010.
He successfully defended his Philippine title against Donny Mabao by majority decision and against Roger Echavez by 7th round TKO where Chavez was floored twice in the 4th round and once in the 7th round.
Sabillo became Orient Pacific Boxing Federation minimumweight champion when he prevailed over Rodel Tejares by unanimous decision on October 8, 2011 in Bacolod City.
He defended it by winning over Jonathan Refugio by 7th round TKO on May 4, 2012 also in Bacolod City.
On March 9, 2013, Sabillo defeated Colombia's Luis de la Rosa via 8th round technical knockout to win the interim WBO minimumweight world title in his opponent's home turf in Cerete, Colombia. He was later elevated to full champion after the reigning champion Moises Fuentes vacated the WBO title to move up to the next heavier light flyweight division.
He successfully made his first title defense against Colombia's Jorle Estrada by 9th round KO when he went down on that round on July 13, 2013 at Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Pasay City.
He retained his WBO minimumweight title for a second time against Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago in a bout which resulted in a split draw on November 30, 2013 at Araneta Coliseum. German judge Joerg Milke had it 115-113 for Sabillo. Levi Martinez of USA favored Buitrago, 115-113. Japanese Takeshi Shimakawa saw it a tie, 114-114.
In his next fight, Sabillo lost the title to Francisco Rodriguez, Jr. via 10th round TKO in in Monterrey, Mexico. The Mexican foe pressed the fight since the opening round and did not relax his punches while Sabillo offered lesser resistance resulting in his first career defeat. Rodriguez previously suffered a KO loss inflected by former pound-for-pound king Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez.
On November 15, 2014, Sabillo lost to Indonesian journeyman Ellias Nggenggo. The fight was a brutal exchanges of wild blows. Nggenggo was declared the winner of the bout by 4th round TKO. Sabillo was deemed unfit to continue due to a cut on his eyelid opened by a punch from Nggenggo.
On June 12, 2015, Sabillo defeated Powell Balaba, whom he defeated in his pro debut, by unanimous decision at the L' Fisher Hotel, Bacolod City.
On November 29, 2015, he defeated Indonesian Jack Amisa by a 6th round unanimous decision at La Trinidad, Benguet.
On May 8, 2016, he fought Japanese Riku Kano at Bunka Center, Sanda, Hyogo, Japan for the interim OPBF minimumweight title. Sabillo took advantage of his experience in piling up points against his foe at the earlier rounds. But Kano retaliated in the middle rounds and was able to connect punches in the later part of the bout. Kano won the bout by split decision and the OPBF minimumweight title.
On November 11, 2016, Sabillo traveled back to Japan and clashed with local favorite Ryuya Yamanaka for the vacant OPBF minimumweight title. Sabillo lost the fight by unanimous decision and the OPBF title in his second defeat in Japan.
On May 27, 2017 he defeated Indonesian Jack Amisa by 3rd round KO for the vacant Asian Boxing Federation light flyweight title in Bacolod City.
He successfully defended his Asian Boxing Federation title against countryman Crison Omayao by UD also in Bacolod City.
On February 17, 2018 Merlito Sabillo lost to the then undefeated Filipino OPBF champ Edward Heno via a 12-round split decision for the unification of Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation and Asian Boxing Federation light flyweight titles in Bacolod City.
On September 15, 2018 he fought the China's Jing Xiang for the vacant World Boxing Council silver light flyweight title, losing a unanimous decision in Qinzhou, China.
Then he also lost to Mexico's Daniel Valladares by 7th round TKO in Monterrey, Mexico. He was also stopped by Japanese Sho Kimura by 2nd round TKO in Manila.
So far, Sabillo has 36 fights, 27 victories with 13 KO losses, 8 defeats with 4 KO losses and 1 draw.
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