Jerusalem finds boxing glory in Japan
Boxing SunStar File photo

Jerusalem finds boxing glory in Japan

MELVIN Jerusalem ended the Philippines’ world championship drought in pro boxing after dethroning Japanese Yudai Shigeoka by split decision to become the new World Boxing Council (WBC) minimumweight champion on March 31, 2024, at the International Conference Hall in Nagoya, Japan.

“This is a dream come true,” the 30-year-old Jerusalem told SunStar Cebu. “This was the belt that I really wanted and now it’s finally mine.”

Jerusalem hurt Yudai early with a right straight to the midsection in the opening round.

Jerusalem shocked Yudai by sending him to the canvas in the third round after connecting with a counter right straight to the head. In the sixth round, Jerusalem once again landed a solid right straight to Yudai’s head for his second knockdown in the bout.

“I know they prepared for my right straight. We always trained that punch with coach (Michael Domingo). That body punch was what we really had in plan but they figured it out and we had to mix it up,” said Jerusalem.

Despite scoring two knockdowns, the fight was still very close. After the eighth round, Jerusalem was ahead on the scorecards of two judges, 77-73, while the other judge scored it 75-75 in WBC’s open scoring system.

Judges Jae Bong Kim and Barry Lindenman had identical scores of 114-112 for Jerusalem, while judge Malcolm Bulner scored it 114-113 for Shigeoka.

Jerusalem finally ended the Philippines’ world title drought after the last remaining Filipino champion Marlon Tapales lost his titles last December.

“I’m very happy that I ended the Philipines’ slump in world title fights. I really did everything that I could to win the fight and give the Philippines a world title. It’s finally been given. I thank everyone who prayed for me and supported me,” said Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is now 22-3 with 12 knockouts, while Shigeoka suffered his first career defeat and dropped to 8-1 with five knockouts.

Jerusalem fought for the same WBC belt back in 2017 but lost by unanimous decision to then titleholder Wanheng Menayothin in Thailand. Jerusalem had his second attempt at a world title in Japan against then World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight titleholder Masataka Taniguchi last year, winning by second-round stoppage.

On the other hand, Jake Amparo failed in his bid for a world title after suffering a second-round knockout in the hands of Yudai’s younger brother, International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight king Ginjiro Shigeoka.

Ginjiro stopped Amparo with a left uppercut to the body in the 1:15 mark of the second round.

The 26-year-old Amparo came in as a last-minute replacement for Ar-Ar Andales, who was forced to pull out with less than a week before the fight due to an illness.

Amparo suffered his second straight loss and dropped to 14-6-1 with three knockouts, while Ginjiro remained undefeated at 11-0 with nine knockouts.

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