FORMER world champion Merlito Sabillo’s back is up against the wall after losing two straight fights. Another loss could be the end of his career, while a win should bring his confidence back.
“A win is very important for him to bring him back,” ALA Gym head trainer Edito Villamor told Sun.Star Cebu.
Sabillo takes on journeyman Powell Balaba in what should be a confidence-boosting bout tomorrow in one of the featured fights in “The Big Challenge -Champions vs. Champions” show in Bacolod City.
Sabillo rose up the mini-flyweight ranks after winning 21 straight fights. He earned a crack at a world title in his 22nd fight, beating Luis de la Rosa by an eighth-round stoppage to win the interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) mini-flyweight belt in 2013. The 31-year-old Sabillo was elevated as the regular champion after then champion Moises Fuentes moved up in weight to challenge Donnie Nietes.
Following a ninth-round technical knockout over Jorle Estrada and a draw with Carlos Buitrago, Sabillo went to Mexico to defend his belt against Francisco Rodriguez in March last year. He was stopped by Rodriguez in the 10th round.
Sabillo didn’t return until November against Indonesian Faris Nenggo. However, he was unlucky and was stopped by Nenggo after suffering a huge cut caused by a punch.
“It depends on the result of this fight, if he still has hunger and the drive to continue boxing,” said Villamor.
The 26-year-old Balaba is in kind of a slump himself. He has lost his last four fights.
Sabillo is 23-2-1 with 12 knockouts, while Balaba is 8-13-1 with five knockouts.
“We can’t say that it’s a sure win for Merlito because there’s always that chance of an accident during a fight. We should not be complacent, that is the most important thing, because both of them have trained for this fight. Yes, he has to have an impressive win so that he will continue his career and gain his confidence back,” said Villamor.
Unbeaten Cebuanos Ardie Boyose and Jack Tepora are also seeing action in the same card.
Boyose (15-0-1, 11 KOs) challenges Argie Toquero (8-3-1, 6 KOs) World Boxing Organization (WBO) Youth featherweight crown in the main event, while Tepora (13-0, 9 KOs) squares off with journeyman Jilo Merlin (13-22-2, 2 KOs).