FOR former world champion Milan Melindo, boxing isn’t just all about knocking each other’s heads off but rather a chess match that needs intelligence, strategy and wit.

Melindo will once again showcase his methodic style of fighting in front of a lively Cebuano boxing audience when he takes on Thai warrior Chaiwat Buatkrathok in an Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) Silver featherweight title fight on Jan. 11, 2023, at the Cebu City Sports Center.

“It’s a challenge for me because my opponent is a high-caliber fighter. You can see his quality in his fights. This is one of my biggest tests. It’ll be a fight of contrasting styles between a methodic fighter versus a knockout puncher,” the 34-year-old Melindo said during a press conference at the Café Point on Monday, Jan. 2. “I’m very excited to fight under the Prime Fight Gym and bring the name of the gym. I need people to learn the scientific way of boxing and let him quit.”

Melindo made his ring return last April 2 after almost three years out of the ring. He stopped Crison Omayao in six rounds in Zamboanga City.

After just recently signing with Prime Stags Sports, Melindo’s main goal is to become a world champion again and his handlers see him eye-to-eye.

“We need the fastest route for him to be a champion in WBC. Milan also wants to avenge his loss to (Juan Francisco) Estrada. The OPBF is the fastest route to be ranked in the WBC. We’re not going to waste the opportunity. It’s a risk we must take because Milan isn’t getting any younger,” said Prime Stags Sports vice president Pocholo Padilla.

Buatkrathok should come into the fight in top shape as he was very busy in 2022. He had a total of seven fights and went 5-2.

Melindo is 38-5 with 14 knockouts, while Buatkrathok is 38-7 with 25 knockouts.

World Boxing Foundation super flyweight champion Kit Ceron Garces (5-0, 4 KOs) slugs it out with fellow prospect Noli James Maquilan (4-1, 3 KOs) in an eight-round co-main feature.

“I promise the fans that they will get their money’s worth,” Garces said. “I will do my best to knock him out.”

The Sinulog boxing event will showcase eight other pro bouts, featuring fighters like Marco Pomar (4-1, 2 KOs), Kier Torregosa (1-2-1, 1 KO) and John Ver Espra (1-2, 1 KO).

The event will kick off at 1 p.m. with 10 amateur bouts.

“I’m very happy that small promoters like them are united in promoting boxing. They are a lively group. We want more promotions of amateur fights, which will then in turn become future pro fighters,” said Cebuano boxing patron and Cebu City Sports Commission chairman Lorenzo “Chao” Sy.