Jerusalem Receives WBO belt; Wants to Unify Titles
By Dong Secuya
Tue, 17 Jan 2023
Melvin Jerusalem receives his WBO belt from Leon Panoncillor Jr.
Cebu City -- Newly crowned WBO minimumweight world champion Melvin 'Gringo' Jerusalem received his newly minted WBO championship belt this afternoon from WBO vice-president for Asia-Pacific Leon Panoncillo Jr during the formal turnover ceremony followed by a press conference at the Bayfront Hotel here attended by Jerusalem's managers husband and wife Nobuyuki and Marivic Matsuura together with Jerusalem's promoter JC Manangquil.
Jerusalem captured the highly coveted belt from Masataka Taniguchi of Japan by a stunning second round knockout at the Edion Arena in Osaka last Jan. 6 that put the Philippines back in the boxing world title map.
Panoncillo said that the well-crafted sparkling-stone laden belt given to Jerusalem was only the second of its kind awarded to its champions after the latest design was approved by the WBO during its convention last October in Puerto Rico. Japanese star Naoya Inoue was the first to received it after the 'Monster' unified all belts by defeating former WBO bantamweight champion Paul Butler of England on Dec. 13, 2022 in Tokyo.
Jerusalem later said that he wanted to unify all belts and aim to fight WBA super champion Thammanoon Niyomtrong aka Knockout CP Freshmart of Thailand as a first step.
Seated (L-R): WBO Vice-President for Asia-Pacific Leon Panoncillo Jr., JC Manangquil of Sanman Boxing, Jerusalem, Marivic Matsuura and Nobuyuki Matsuura of Zip Boxing with Zip/Sanman boxers standing in the background headed by KJ Cataraja and Jeo Santisima with trainer Michael Domingo during Tuesday's presscon at the Bayfront Hotel in Cebu City.
Victorious duo: WBO champion Melvin Jerusalem (L) and trainer Michael Domingo.
Jerusalem's manager Marivic Matsuura however said that they have received offers for Jerusalem to fight in Japan against Japanese contenders, which if one would be finalized, would most likely be Jerusalem's next opponent.
Additionally, former world champion Wilfredo Mendez of Puerto Rico and compatriot Oscar Collazo was slated to fight on January 28 in Los Angeles for the eliminator to challenge Jerusalem. Mendez however withdrew from the fight after an injury and Collazo will now face Mexico’s Yudel Reyes. The winner of the Collazo vs Reyes fight will become the division's top contender. It remains to be seen however if the Collazo-Reyes winner would be designated as Jerusalem's mandatory.
Meanwhile Jerusalem is scheduled to return to his hometown in Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon for a well-deserved rest and savor his victory with his townmates before returning back to Cebu next month to prepare for his next challenge that will most probably be in April or May, according to his promoter JC Manangquil.
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