On Friday Filipino fans in Bacolod City had the chance to watch a trio of OPBF "interim" title fights, two of which resulted in new champions.
One of those new champions is Rene Dacquel (17-6-1, 6), who scored a sensational knockout against the previously unbeaten Lucky Tor Buamas (7-1, 7) to claim the OPBF "interim" Super Flyweight title. The Filipino, who came up short against Takuma Inoue last year for the full OPBF title, iced Lucky with a single right hand and left him flat on his back in what was a KO of the Year contender. Sadly for Lucky, or should that be "Unlucky", it seems the step up in class was far too much and in his previous 7 bouts he had done nothing to prepare for a fighter like Dacquel.
Another new champion was Carlo Magali (20-7-3, 10) who over-came Mark Gil Melligen (21-7-1, 12) to claim the OPBF "interim" Super Featherweight title. This win sees Magali extend an unbeaten run, which now sites at 5 fights, and sees him claiming back-to-back title wins, adding the OPBF interim title to his IBF Pan Pacific title. Sadly however it's hard to see where Melligen goes now, following a third successive loss.
Their was one title bout that resulted in no new champion being crowned. That bout saw Rey Megrino (22-20-4, 19) and Jonathan Baat (30-7-5, 14) fight to a thrilling 12 round draw for the OPBF "interim" Bantamweight title. It was this bout, more than the other two, that intrigued us in regards to the show and our assumption of it being well matched proved to be right. Megrino, who has one of the sports most misleading records, may not have managed to advance his career with a newly won title but he has extended his current unbeaten streak to 9 bouts, whilst Baat bounced back from a loss to Liborio Solis with the draw.
Also on this card was well travelled Venezuelan Omrri Bolivar (4-0, 2), who blew away Filipino Gerry Patenio (4-11-2, 2) inside a round. The Venezuelan is now expected to return to the ring later this month, in China as he continues a peculiar Asian tour.
The OPBF title has been the stepping stone between fighters at continental level and world level. They have long been titles that fighters have won on their way to the top and as chance for fighters to prove themselves as being beyond domestic level, and on their way to becoming world class. Modern day fighters like Manny Pacquiao (Flyweight), Takashi Uchiyama's (Super Featherweight) [内山 高志] and Naoya Inoue (Light Flyweight) [井上 尚弥] have all claimed the OPBF title before going on to win world titles.
It's with that in mind that we're rather disappointed to learn that the OPBF will be have a growth in "interim" title fights, devaluing one of the best stepping stone titles in the sport of boxing. That growth seems to have really blown up recently with Naris Highland announcing an OPBF interim title triple header, set for April 1st.
The highest weight being covered by the triple header is Super Featherweight where Carlo Magali (19-7-3, 10) faces Mark Gil Melligen (21-6-1, 12). The issues with this fight are numerous. Firstly the champion will actually be defending the "regular" title later in April, so he need for an interim is questionable, secondly Melligen was beaten in his last 2 fights, so he's hardly a worth contender for an OPBF belt as it is. Magali is a legitimate contender at this level, though it's disappointing that he has been inactive in recent years. It's also worth noting that this will be Magali's first bout since his tragic contest with David Browne Jr.
At Bantamweight we suspect we suspect we're in for a treat as the heavy handed Rey Megrino (22-20-3, 19), who has recently been training with Rex Tso, battles Jonathan Baat (30-7-4, 14). Whilst neither of these two have the greatest of records both are proven fighters with an upsetters mentality. Megrino's record suggests that he's far from special but the 29 year old is on a 7 fight winning streak over the likes of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam, Myung Ho Lee and Ernesto Saulong, and has done well to turn his career around after being 15-19-3 around 4 years ago. On the other hand Baat holds a couple of wins over Qiu Xiao Jun, a big upset over Kenta Onjo and held Hikaru Marugame to a draw late last year.
Megrino Vs Baat is a genuinely fantastic match up, but the need for an interim title to be attached to the bout is ridiculous given that the "regular" champion will, again, be defending his title in April.
The third of the bouts is, sadly, the most questionable as Rene Dacquel (16-6-1, 5) faces unbeaten Thai Lucky Tor Buamas (7-0, 7) for the "interim" OPBF Super Flyweight title. On paper this one looks fine but Dacquel has lost 2 recent bouts, including an OPBF title bout to Takuma Inoue. Although Dacquel is a capable fighter there is little need for him to be fighting in an OPBF title fight given that he was widely beaten by Inoue in December. On the other hand the unbeaten Lucky has beaten no one of note, and by that we really mean, no one of any note. It's also worth noting that Inoue is expected to defend the title in April or May anyway.
Whilst we would have loved to have gotten behind the announcement in regards to the title triple header the reality is the announcement devalues the OPBF title and follows in the footsteps of the WBA "world" titles, where the "Super", "Regular" and "interim" titles all made a mockery of things.
It should be noted that we have no issue with interim titles in principle. If a fighter is injured then the "interim" title is fair enough, but this announcement comes whilst the real champions have bouts lined up, and follows the the recent created situation at Welterweight, where Suyon Takayama [高山 樹延] claimed the interim title just weeks before Jack Brubaker defended the "regular" title. If the OPBF continue down this slope it's a slippery one that could lead to them quickly losing their significance as a genuine stepping stone title.
Earlier today Filipino veteran Vinvin Rufino (37-16-3, 16) claimed the OPBF Featherweight title at the third time of asking as he defeated fellow Filipino Mark Gil Melligen (21-5-1, 12) courtesy of an 8th round technical decision.
Rufino first challenged for an OPBF title back in 2010 when he narrowly lost to Naoki Matsuda. He again got a shot at the title last year when he was stopped in 8 rounds by Japan's Hisashi Amagasa. At the end of last year Amagasa vacated the belt to challenge Guillermo Rigondeaux and that opened up the opportunity for Rufino to get a third, and potentially final, shot at the belt.
As for Melligen this was his first shot at this level and at times it really showed as he seemed unable to cope with the power and ability of the 33 year old Rufino.
In the second round Rufino's power took it's toll on Melligen who was dropped for the first time, the following round Melligen was down again as he fell into a big hole on the cards.
Following the poor start Melligen finally found his way into the fight and mounted a small fightback. It was a spirited effort from the 27 year old though the hole he was in was a deep one and one that he couldn't climb his way out of before a headclash caused an early conclusion to the bout at the end of round 8. With the bout having ended early it was clear that Rufino was going to be crowned the new champion when the cards were announced, which he was with cards of 77-73 and 77-74 in his favour, whilst the third judge had it 75-75.
Tomorrow fans in the Philippines will get the chance to see a really good looking card at the Manila hotel. Today saw the fighters involved in that show taking part in their weigh ins and thankfully all the fighters made weight, including the 8 men involved in title bouts.
The highest honour being fought for tomorrow is the OPBF Featherweight title, which will be up for grabs when the experienced Vinvin Rufino (36-16-3, 16) battles the promising Mark Gil Melligen (21-4-1, 12). On the scales Rufino was the bigger man, coming in on the limit at 126lbs, whilst Melligen was a full 1lb lighter than his foe.
Although the OPBF belt is the highest honour being fought for there are two other regional titles on the line, both in the form of the WBO Asia Pacific titles.
One of the WBO Asia Pacific title bouts will see Juan Martin Elorde (16-1-1, 7) defending his belt at Super Featherweight against Japanese challenger Hirotsugu Yamamoto (16-10-2, 2). On the scales Elorde was bang on the limit at 130lbs whilst Yamamoto was well inside the limit at just 127lbs, closer to the limit for Featherweight than Super Featherweight.
The other WBO Asia Pacific title bout takes places at Super Bantamweight and will see Juan Miguel Elorde (17-1, 9) fight Thai visitor Tabthong Tor Buamas (14-2, 12). For this bout it was the Filipino who was well inside the limit with Elorde weighing 120lbs for a bout made at 122lbs. On the other Tabthong was himself wlel inside the limit at 121lbs.
The remaining title bout is a Filipino Bantamweight title bout which will see defending champion Monico Laurente (25-12, 6) defending his title against the very capable Marco Demecillo (20-2-1, 15). For this bout both men came in at 118lbs, bang on the Bantamweight limit.
(Image of Melligen and Rugino courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Vinvin Rufino and Mark Gil Melligen to battle for OPBF Featherweight title at the Flash Elorde Awards show
It's been announced over the last day or so that Vinvin Rufino (36-16-3, 16) will battle against Mark Gil Melligen (24-4-1, 12) in an All-Filipino bout for the vacant OPBF Featherweight title, which was vacated at the turn of the year by Hisashi Amagasa. Not only has the bout been announced but it's also been announced that the contest will take place on March 25th at the Manila Hotel as part of the Flash Elorde Awards show.
The bout will be one of 4-titles bouts on the show and it looks to be the most significant on the grand scheme of things with the winner likely to find themselves on the verges of a world ranking.
The bout joins a Filipino Bantamweight title fight between Monico Laurente (25-12, 6) and Marco Demecillo (20-2-1, 15) and a pair of WOB Asia Pacific title bouts involving the grand child of the great Flash Elorde himself. One of those WBO regional title bouts will see Juan Martin Elorde (16-1-1, 7) defending his Super Featherweight belt against Argentinian visitor Hirotsugu Yamamoto (16-10-2, 2) whilst Juan Miguel Elorde (17-1, 9) hopes to capture the Super Bantamweight title when he battles Thai puncher Tabthong Tor Buamas (14-2, 12).
Rufino comes into the bout hoping it'll be third time lucky after having fallen short in 2 previous attempts at winning an OPBF title,. The first of those saw him losing a split decision to Naoki Matsuda whilst the second saw him being stopped in round 8 by Amagasa, just a year ago. As for Melligen this will be his first shot at an OPBF belt, though he did fail to capture a PABA title back in 2012, when he was stopped in 2 rounds by Sukkasem Kietyongyuth.
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