MANILA, Philippines – Melvin Jerusalem gave Philippine boxing an opening salvo by becoming the new WBO world minimumweight champion on Friday, January 6, in Osaka, Japan.
Better and wiser than when he first fought for a world crown six years ago, Jerusalem caught Masataka Taniguchi with a wicked straight right to the face in the second round to stop the stunned Japanese titlist in the second round at the Edion Arena.
Taniguchi went down on his back and tried to rise but tumbled head-first before managing to get up with wobbly legs on his second attempt.
Glassy-eyed and unstable, the referee ruled he was unfit to continue, making Jerusalem the only reigning Filipino world champion thus far.
It was the ninth straight win for Jerusalem, raising his record to 20-2 with 12 knockouts. Taniguchi dropped to 16-4 with 11 knockouts.
The 28-year-old Jerusalem, who trained long and hard in Cebu, was accompanied by trainer Michael Domingo and Sanman Promotions head JC Mananquil.
Jerusalem got a crack at the World Boxing Council minimum weight title in 2017 but lost to Thai Wanheng Menayothin via unanimous decision.
Given another chance, the pride of Bukidnon gave it his best shot and ended the Filipinos’ wait for another world champion.
Jerusalem, who came in light at 103 pounds during the official weigh-in on Thursday, followed the footsteps of compatriots Merlito Sabillo, who held the WBO 105-pound title in 2013, and Donnie Nietes, who reigned from 2007-2010 before moving up to light flyweight.
“This victory is for the Philippines and for my family,” said Jerusalem. ”This also goes out to my Zip-Sanman team. Of course, I am thankful to my coach Michael Domingo who worked hard with me during training camp. I will not stop training hard after this.” – Rappler.com