CEBU

Melindo hopes to kickstart career in Japan

FORMER world champion Milan Melindo looks to get his career back on track as he takes on promising Japanese prospect Junto Nakatani on Saturday night, Oct. 5, 2019, at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

“This is his most important fight,” ALA Gym head coach Edito Villamor told SunStar Cebu. “If he wins this fight, there’s a huge possibility that he’ll be able to fight for a title again.”

The 31-year-old Melindo is in dire need of a win after suffering back-to-back losses, both world title fights in Japan. He lost his International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight belt after a loss to then World Boxing Association (WBA) light flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi by unanimous decision in a unification bout last Dec. 31, 2017. He returned to Japan on Oct. 7, 2018 to challenge Ken Shiro for the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight title and suffered his first career stoppage defeat.

“At either 112 or 115 pounds,” said Villamor on the divisions that Melindo will probably campaign at. “We are not yet thinking on who to target yet. What’s important is our fight tomorrow.”

The 21-year Nakatani is one of the hottest prospects in Japan. He’s ranked No. 2 in the WBA, No. 3 in both the WBC and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and No. 11 in the IBF.

“Milan learned from his last fight that he should not be stationary in the corner so that he won’t be an easy target. He needs to move from side-to-side,” said Villamor. “Every fighter is hard to fight especially if they are well trained. He’s not an easy opponent because he’s undefeated and he is very technically sound.”

Melindo made the contracted 114-pound limit by tipping the scales at 113.9 pounds. Nakatani, a natural flyweight, easily made weight at 113.7 pounds.

Melindo is 37-4 with 13 knockouts, while Nakatani is 19-0 with 14 knockouts. (RSC)


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