Jerusalem relishes big moment in WBO title defense vs. Collazo

READY. Melvin Jerusalem (left) goes up against Oscar Collazo on Sunday, May 28, 2023 (PH time). / SANMAN BOXING
READY. Melvin Jerusalem (left) goes up against Oscar Collazo on Sunday, May 28, 2023 (PH time). / SANMAN BOXING

FROM just watching blockbuster US boxing shows on TV to now being a part of it, everything has just been so surreal for World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight champion Melvin Jerusalem.

The soft-spoken 29-year-old came from humble beginnings in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. He worked his way up from obscurity with hard work and determination, and is now finally in boxing’s biggest stage. At the pinnacle of his boxing career, Jerusalem won’t let anything get in his way of success, not even a decorated amateur and dangerous opponent in Oscar Collazo.

“I’m very happy that I’m finally here in the US to fight. Back then, I was the one watching US fights on TV, now, everyone will be watching me fight here. I’m very thankful to God that he fulfilled my dreams and gave me even more than I have ever dreamed of. That’s why I’ll do my best with this opportunity given to me, and I won’t let it slip away,” Jerusalem told SunStar Cebu.

Jerusalem will be defending his WBO minimumweight belt for the first time on Sunday, May 28, 2023 (PH time), against mandatory challenger Oscar Collazo in a boxing show promoted by boxing legend Oscar De la Hoya at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

Jerusalem easily made weight and tipped the scales at 104.6 pounds, while Collazo weighed in at 105 pounds.

After hanging around at the top of the rankings for years, Jerusalem finally got his big break with a world title shot against Masataka Taniguchi for the WBO minimumweight title fight on Jan. 6 in Osaka, Japan. Coming in as an underdog, Jerusalem made quick work of Taniguchi and stopped him two rounds with a wicked right straight to the jaw, making him the first world champion of the Philippines in 2023.

Collazo, on the other hand, rose fast in the pro ranks in a career that just started in 2020. He established his name as an elite minimumweight following a unanimous-decision win over former world champion Vic Saludar last year in Los Angeles. The 26-year-old Puerto Rican then earned his world title shot last Jan. 28 with a fifth-round knockout of Yudel Reyes in WBO minimumweight world title eliminator in Inglewood.

Jerusalem is 20-2 with 12 knockouts, while Collazo is 6-0 with four knockouts.

Jerusalem knows what’s at stake and how important this fight is to his career. He could either solidify his name as one of the best minimum weights or lose everything that he had worked on all of his life.

“I’ll do my best and I’ll do everything to win this fight. I’ll follow coach’s (Michael Domingo) game plan and if it doesn’t work, we always have a backup plan,” said Jerusalem. “I’ll study him first and if we see the opportunity that’s when I’ll go for the kill.” (EKA)

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