Sabillo defends crown in Mexico today

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Sunday, March 23, 2014


MERLITO Sabillo attempts to do what most Filipino fighters have failed to do: beat a Mexican in Mexico in a world title fight.

Sabillo will defend his World Boxing Organization (WBO) miniflyweight crown against young Mexican prospect Francisco Rodriguez at the Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon today.

Sabillo attempts to join the likes of Luisito Espinosa and Donnie Nietes, who is his stable mate, as the Filipinos who have won world title fights in Mexico.

Espinosa defended his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight crown in 1996, knocking out Mexican Alejando “La Cobrita” Gonzalez in four rounds.

Nietes, on the other hand, won in Mexico against Mexicans three times to defending his WBO miniflyweight belt, the same title that is currently held by Sabillo.

He won a unanimous decision in his first visit there against Erik Ramirez in 2009; a split decision over Manuel Vargas on that same year; and then a unanimous decision against Mario Rodriguez the following year.

Both Sabillo and Rodriguez made weight yesterday.

Sabillo tipped the scales below the min-flyweight limit at 104 ½ pounds, while Rodriguez weighed-in at exactly 105 pounds.

Sabillo has revved up his preparation for this fight, training in both the US and in Mexico, which he hasn’t done in his previous title defenses.

The 30-year-old Sabillo isn’t new to fighting in enemy territory. He won his world title outside the Philippines with an eighthround technical knockout over Colombian Luis de la Rosa in Colombia.

Sabillo has made two title defenses. However, he had trouble in his latest title defense and had to settle for a split draw with unbeaten Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago.

The 20-year-old Rodriguez, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer and just made his debut in 2010. He owns a win over Vargas, the interim champion that bowed down to Nietes. He has also fought arguably the best in the lower weight divisions, Roman Gonzalez, who knocked him out in seven rounds.

Sabillo is unbeaten with a 23-0-1 slate including 12 knockouts, while Rodriguez is 13-2 with nine knockouts. (EKA)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 23, 2014.

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