Melindo: The portrait of a fighter

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Saturday, April 13, 2013


MILAN Melindo Jr. brought to dreamland his Indonesian boxing opponent Tommy Seran in Macau on April 7 in the fourth round as Cagayan de Oro stood and watched breathless as he methodically broke down Seran.

On the fourth round, Seran fell down the canvass, sealing Melindo’s fate for a shot at world title.

Melindo, standing at 5 feet and 2 inches and the current king of the flyweight division, is eager to meet Mexican boxer Juan Francisco Estrada come August.

Undefeated with 29 wins, 12 via knockout, Melindo has reigned over three weight categories with five championship belts.

The world championship was once a dream for Melindo.

He began his training at an early age with his father as his trainer.

“My father bought me a pair of gloves and then, we just trained. We enjoyed our time together but we never talked about going professional,” Melindo said.

Melindo recalled that while he was a student at the Agusan National High School sometime in 2004, he represented the school at the regional sports meets. But he wasn’t so serious about it.

He won in the Palarong Pambansa twice. “We can only join two meets, because the Education Department is careful of any damage,” Melindo said.

In 2007, he got his big break. Ed Pecson, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) executive director, called Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno and informed him on the skills of the promising Melindo.

“Governor Moreno gave me my big break at boxing,” Melindo said.

Melindo shared that since moving to Cebu to train under the ALA gym, he never looked back.

ALA Promotions President Michael Aldeguer was quoted over Sun.Star Cebu that Melindo is one of his prized wards.

Melindo shared that he was, like the ring genius Manny Pacquiao, was motivated by dire poverty and his desire to make something for himself and help his family get another shot in life.

Motivation and Discipline

Melindo said discipline and the desire to rise above the pain and challenges is what drives him.

His father operates his business in a shanty on a corner near the Puerto public market selling rubber bushings.

His family has been renting a house. “We have no house of our own and that is one of the motivations I have,” Melindo said.

Milan indulged himself in trainings, focusing his pains to what motivates him -- getting out of poverty and helping his parents.

His father was seen crying on TV when his son won the World Boxing Organization’s Intercontinental championship belt on April 7.

Melindo Sr. shared that all the sacrifices have given them more hope.

Melindo’s best friend, Jimboy Nalagon, recalled those moments when he and Milan talked about their dreams while they cut rubbers at the shop.

“He is what he is now, he got there by doing something not most of us can do, he is where he wants to be…I got my own life too, but we are still best friends, but I look up to him,” Nalagon said.

His two high school teachers, Mr. Alburo and Teruel who accompanied him to the Palarong Pambansa, recalled that Melindo is a very focused and disciplined athlete.

“He does not have vices and deprive himself of youthful pursuit,” Teruel said.

Flanked by neighbors who wanted to reconnect with their champion, Melindo never felt more at home in sitio Baloc-Baloc, Barangay Puerto, where he grew up.

Before going home, he toured the Puerto public market where he had an emotional connection because he reportedly used to drive a trisikad to help augment the family’s income.

Melindo realized early that boxing can bring him to places but that would take a lot of sacrifices for his family.

“Being away from them can sometime be unbearable, but I just think about our dreams and it made me more motivated,” Melindo said.

Future world champion

When he won over Seran, the world’s number one boxing promoter Bob Arum was excited.

Melindo quoted Arum as saying, “You will be facing Juan Estrada of Mexico for a shot at world title.”

Estrada defeated compatriot Brian “The Hawaiian Punch” Viloria over unanimous decision.

His father, during the press conference in a restaurant near their house, said that he bid his son well for the world title.

Melindo’s mother Lita, clutching her husband’s hand, can only look on at his son -- probably thinking about her little son, whom she took care for years and now is a bonafide fighter in what the world calls the “sweet science.”

His own man, name

Melindo’s determination to rise above is also evident on how he wanted to be compared to other boxers.

“Pacquiao is Pacquiao, Viloria is Viloria and I am Milan Melindo,” he said as the crowd applauded.

Melindo said he admires all the Filipino boxing greats but said that he wants to be remembered as Melindo, the methodical fighter, the thinking fighter who slowly dismantles his opponents.

Melindo also assured everyone that he will never forget where he came from.

“I always requested that “Puerto, Cagayan de Oro” be mentioned before I would fight in the ring,” Melindo said.

Melindo shared that the “El Metodico” monicker came from the people and it wasn’t his idea.

He said that people saw how he slowly breaks his opponents by learning and adapting with their moves.

“Their fighting styles, I study, even before the fight and when we box, I adjust and adapt my style,” Melindo said.

Melindo shared that he even uses his foe’s own strength in defeating them.

Being a counter-puncher, Melindo said that he knows how to take advantage of the situation.

“You can learn anything as long as you give it your all,” Melindo said.

He said that he never forgets to be grateful to God and that faith in God is something that he always relies on.

The future looks great for Milan Melindo. Judging by the hero’s welcome the people gave him in the morning of April 11, a champion of sweet science will rule the world. He will give faith and hope to those who have none.

A champion is molded out of the hottest fire and the whole nation would chant his name -- MELINDO. (Bobby Lagsa)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 14, 2013.

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