Former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-5-1, 13) has fallen hard in recent years, dropping from an unbeaten world champion with a 23-0 (12) record. It now seems like he really is fighting for his career at the age of 34
The Filipino may well be about to enter the last chance Saloon, with the recent announcement that he will be back in the ring on September 15th in Qinzhou, China. The forrmer champion will be facing off with Chinese local Jing Xiang (14-4-2, 3) in a bout for the WBC Silver Light Flyweight title.
The winner will shoot up the WBC rankings at 108lbs, and possibly find themselves on the verge of a shot at WBC champion Ken Shiro. For the loser however it would be a major set back. A loss for Sabillo would be his 6th in 10 bouts bout whilst a defeat for Xiang would would end a promising 6 fight winning run.
A second title bout on this same card see former Japanese Heavyweight title contender Kotatsu Takehara (15-11-3, 8) [竹原 虎辰] battle against Chinese foe Zhiyu Wu (8-2-1, 2) in a bout for the WBC Asian Boxing Council Heavyweight title. Given that the fighters are 40 and 35 respectively we don't see this being the start of some great charge up the rankings, but both men will be looking at this as a chance to get a notable regional title at the tail end of their career.
Last year Edward Heno (12-0-5, 5) travelled to Nakagami twice to face Seita Ogido for the OPBF Light Flyweight title, having a very controversial draw in the first bout before stopping Ogido in the second bout to claim the title. Today he returned to a Filipino ring to take on former WBO Minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo (27-5-1, 13), who was looking to make his first defense of the ABF Light Flyweight title.
The bout, which took place Bacolod City, was a huge step up in clss for Heno though he managed tocome out on top, taking a split decision over Sabillo. The scores for the bout were 119-109 and 118-110 to Heno whilst the third judge managed to have the contest 116-112 to Sabillo, going massively against the other two judges.
For Heno the win boosts his chance of moving towards a world title fight, and even prior to today's contesthe was ranked in the top 15 of all 4 major world title bodies, with the WBO actually placing Sabillo higher than Heno who will likely move into the top 10 when their rankings are next updated.
As for Sabillo the future is pretty bleak, even if the result was "only" a split decision loss. The 34 year old has scored just 4 wins in the last 4 years, going 4-5 during that time, and has failed in 3 shots at OPBF titles during that run. At the age of 34 it's hard to see where Sabillo will go next.
Former world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-4-1, 12) may well be considered retirement tonight after the suffered his 4th loss in 5 bouts. The Filipino was taking on Japanese youngster Ryuya Yamanaka (13-2, 3) [山中 竜也] in a bout for the vacant OPBF Minimumweight title, a title Sabillo did once hold, but he looked like an old and worn fighter through out, coming up short to the younger Yamanaka.
Sabillo started well, and had some notable success early in the bout but as the bout progressed Yamanaka built on his success and confidence seemed to grow more confidence with the youngster landing damaging body shots, and mixing up the left hook to the chin of Sabillo, who was narrowly in the lead after 4 rounds on two of the scorecards.
Having fallen behind Sabillo knew he had to change the tempo of the bout Unfortunately for the visitor he was unable to match the speed of Yamanaka and all too often appeared to be caught between ideas with Yamanaka getting his shots off and getting away before Sabillo had time to respond. That lead to Yamanaka building up a comfortable lead in the middle rounds and all 3 judges had the Japanese 21 year old in the lead going into the final 4 rounds.
In round 9 Sabillo had something of a break through, leaving Yamanaka with a cut around the left eye but he was never able to build on that success and Yamanaka regained his composure to the final bell, taking a clear unanimous decision with scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111.
For Sabillo that will probably be the end of him as an Oriental level title fighter. He is very much looking like a fighter who eithers needs to retire, or test the waters at 108lbs, where he may find a bit more success than he's having at Minimumweight. For Yamanaka the win opens up the potential to fight for a world title in 2017, something he is likely to begin chasing now he has had his first taste of title action.
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
Tomorrow fight fans in Kobe get the chance to attend an OPBF quadruple header with OPBF title bouts at Lightweight, Super Bantamweight, Bantamweight and Minimumweight. Sadly for those not able to make it to the venue the bouts won't be aired live anywhere, not on TV or a streaming service.
Thankfully there is some good news for those unable to go to the show and that's that Kansai TV will be aired delayed highlights from the show on Tuesday/Wednesday with a 90 minute timeslot given to the card part of a pragram "The Real Fight".
The show will officially be aired on Tuesday night at 25:40 on Tuesday, or 1:40am Wednesday mornign for those unfamiliar with the Japanese method of timetabling late night broadcasts.
Despite having a 90 minute TV window it's unclear how they will be showing the bouts, which feature Shun Kubo (10-0, 7) [久保隼] defending his Super Bantamweight title against Korean visitor Jin Wook Lim (8-4-5, 2) [임진욱 ], Masayoshi Nakatani (12-0, 7) [中谷 正義] defending his Lightweight title against Filipino Allan Tanada (14-5-3, 6), Bantamweight champion Takahiro Yamamoto (18-4, 15) [山本 隆寛] taking on Filipino Mark John Yap (24-12, 10) and a bout for the vacant Minimumweight title between Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3) [山中 竜也] and former WBO world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12).
Hopefully, for hose not in Kansai, video of the broadcast will hit the internet in the days that follow the broadcast, if not there's a chance that those outside of the region won't be able to see any footage other than fan cam video of the bouts in question, a real shame given the talent thta will be in action
Tomorrow fans in Japan will be able to see local youngster Ryuya Yamanaka (12-2, 3) [山中 竜也] take a huge step up as he faces former WBO Minimumweight world champion Merlito Sabillo (25-3-1, 12) in a bout for the OPBF Minimumweight title, with the winner likely to be moved in to a potential world title fight in 2017.
Today the two men weighed in for their bout, and both made the limit, with Yamanaka being the heavoer man on the scales. The Japanese fighter came in dead on the limit for the bout and looked shredded at the weigh in almost as if he amped up his preparation for such a significant bout, a necessity given he has come up short in his biggest bouts in the past.
Sabillo came in under the limit, with some room to play with, but also looked in great condition for the bout and it's clear he hasn't travelled to suffer another loss in Japan, as he did earlier this year against teenager Riku Kano. Although viewed by maay as a faded fighter the 32 year old Sabillo knows that he will have to put in an impressive performance if he isn't to fade into obscurity.
Yamanaka and Sabillo face off for OPBF crown
(Image courtesy of boxmob.jp)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!