Milan Melindo robbed of his crowning moment by TV delay
MANILA, Philippines - It was Milan Melindo’s crowning moment, the culmination of a 12-year journey in the professional ranks to him raising the world title as champion. Melindo lived up to his “El Metodico” nickname Sunday, May 21, patiently stalking Akira Yaegashi before seizing his moment, scoring 3 knockdowns in the first round to lift the IBF junior flyweight title in Tokyo, Japan.
Melindo winning a world title in his third title shot was the feel-good moment this year of Philippine boxing. But instead of families huddling around the television and celebrating the ascension of one of Philippine boxing’s favorite sons, many found out the result through social media and online news sites.
Few in the Philippines had seen it live, navigating sites written in kanji characters to find a lagging live stream. Later, video from Fuji TV (which aired the fight live in Japan) circulated through social media, but there’s a difference between watching in real time and watching on YouTube hours afterwards when you already know the result.
The fight was initially advertised to be shown live by Sky Cable On Demand for P99, and on same-day delay by ABS-CBN Sports & Action as a special "Pinoy Pride Presents” airing, with the fight being in the ring at 6:15 pm local time and aired at 8 pm.
But the day before the fight, ALA Promotions issued an email that the fight would possibly be shown in the next two weeks instead due to unspecified “technical issues.”
An ABS-CBN spokesperson texted this writer to inform that the fight would instead be shown on Sports & Action at 8 pm on Sunday, May 28 - a full week after the 165-second fight took place. This writer asked in the message why the fight was not shown as originally advertised, but that question was not answered.
ALA president Michael Aldeguer said he didn’t know why the broadcast plans were changed other than the “technical issues” cited, and conceded that the fight being delayed detracted from the moment.
“I was very frustrated because I knew the plan. It was initially live. Just a couple of days before the event, some problems came out that they can’t show it live. It took a lot away of the spark of what the fight was, and we needed that,” said Aldeguer.
By showing the fight at a significant delay, it sends the message that the fight was not important. It shortchanged the warrior from Cagayan de Oro of the moment when his fans back home could celebrate in the streets, and makes the coronation of a genuine star seem like an afterthought. Sports fans would not tolerate a UAAP basketball game being shown two weeks later. Why then should they be expected to tolerate that of a world championship fight?
The sport is in serious trouble in the Philippines, and is in danger of dropping from relevance once Manny Pacquiao retires. The recent world championship wins of Marlon Tapales, Johnriel Casimero and Jerwin Ancajas were not shown by any of the major networks in the Philippines, which is part of the reason why the country is not producing new boxing stars.
The situation is different with ABS-CBN, which has an output deal with ALA Promotions. It showed Melindo’s ascent to contention throughout the years, from his main event of Pinoy Pride 2 against Carlos Tamara in 2011, through his ups-and-downs. Not showing his world championship win is like broadcasting several seasons of Friends and then skipping the episode where Ross and Rachel finally kiss.
By contrast, when Donnie Nietes fought Komgrich Nantapech a few weeks back in Cebu for the vacant IBF flyweight title, a Thai TV station planned to carry the fight live. It didn't matter that Nantapech couldn't have beat Nietes if he had an extra arm. It was a world title fight and it mattered.
Whatever the reason for the fight not being shown live, the boxers and the boxing fans of this country deserve better than this.
Melindo, who arrived back in Cebu with his world title on Tuesday night, May 23, wouldn’t allow the business side of the fight to knock him off Cloud 9.
“I wish [the fight was shown live]. I don’t know what happened but the important thing is that I won the fight,” said Melindo. – Rappler.com
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.