FORMER world champion Milan Melindo defends his Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) Silver featherweight strap against South Korean Jong Soen Kang on June 24, 2023 in South Korea.
The 35-year-old Melindo won the OPBF Silver featherweight belt after beating tough Thai fighter Chaiwat Buatkrathok on Jan. 11 at the Cebu City Sports Center in Cebu City. Melindo put on a clinic against Buatkrathok and defeated him by a convincing unanimous decision.
Following a three-fight slump, Melindo took a break from boxing for more than two years. He returned in 2022 and took out veteran Crison Omayao by a sixth-round stoppage.
Melindo won the interim International Boxing Federation (IBF) light flyweight belt with a unanimous decision over Teeraphong Utaida at the Cebu Coliseum in 2016. He became the regular IBF champion after dethroning the regular titleholder Akira Yaegashi by a first-round technical knockout in 2017. He successfully defended his IBF belt once with a split decision over Hekkie Budler before losing his belt to then World Boxing Association (WBA) light flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi in a world title unification in Japan later that year.
Melindo went back to Japan in 2018 to challenge Kenshiro Teraji for the World Boxing Council (WBC) light flyweight belt but lost via a seventh-round technical knockout. He returned to Japan again in 2019 and lost to Junto Nakatani by a sixth round stoppage.
The 21-year-old Kang has held regional belts and youth titles in both the WBC and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). He won his first belt with a fifth-round technical knockout of Qixiu Zhang in a WBC Youth Intercontinental super featherweight contest in China in 2019. He then captured the WBO Oriental Youth featherweight strap with a split decision over Pinoy Tomjune Mangubat in Vietnam in 2019. He wrested the WBO Oriental featherweight strap in 2021 with a unanimous decision over fellow South Korean Nam Jun Lee in South Korea in 2021.
Kang was gunning for another belt in 2022 but lost to Filipino Lienard Sarcon by unanimous decision in a WBA Asia featherweight bout last year in South Korea.
Kang bounced back from his first career defeat with a fourth-round technical knockout over Ricky Manufoe on Feb. 18.
Melindo is 39-5 with 14 knockouts, while Kang is 16-1-2 with nine knockouts.
March 27, 2023
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