Despite the fact very few fighters seem to settle there it does still manage to give us some brilliant fights. One of came last year when Mexico's Javier Mendoza (23-2-1, 19) out pointed compatriot Ramon Garcia Hirale to claim the IBF title. Mendoza makes the first defense of that belt on May 30th when he takes on talented Filipino boxer Milan Melindo (32-1, 12). On paper this is a brilliant match up and in the ring it's likely to be a compelling contest between a slugger and a boxer.
Melindo, 27, is one of the ALA fighters that has been on the radar of boxing fans for several years. He debuted way back in 2005 after having had a successful amateur career and in 2007 he claimed his first title, the WBO Asian Pacific Minimumweight belt. Since then he has scored notable wins over Muhammad Rachman, Carlos Tamara and Jean Piero Perez, three genuinely good wins.
Sadly for the Filipino he has lost his most notable bout to day, a decision defeat to unified Flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013. In that bout Estrada gave a very good account of himself, despite what the scorecards suggest, and really pushed the talented Estrada. Whilst the performance was a good one from Melindo it did show one of his problems, a lack of power. No matter what Melindo landed he could never make Estrada respect him and instead the Mexico was able to take the shots and fire back in a very technical bout.
Technically Melindo is a very good boxer. He's not a huge puncher, nor is he the type of fighter who looks like he can unleash a warrior from inside. He's the sort of fighter who is happy to use technique to win bouts but doesn't seem to have the fighters mentality and if the going gets tough we're not sure he'll know how to throw caution to the wind and turn things around .
As for Mendoza he's the polar opposite of the challenger. Technically the 24 year old Mexican is flawed, he's open defensively and wide with his shots. He is however tough, aggressive, heavy handed and really hurtful. He's been a professional since 2007 and scored noteworthy wins over Felipe Salguero, when both were novice, Armando Vazquez and Ramon Garcia Hirales. On paper his record is weak but watching him in action tells us what we need to know, he's fun and dangerous.
Whilst his Mendoza's competition has been weak he has been dealing with it in the way you'd hope a good fight would. He has stopped 9 of his last 10 with 8 of those stoppages coming in the first 4 rounds of bouts. He's been disposing of opponents and quickly. Notably however all 3 of his career set backs have come against poor opposition with his last loss, a 2011 loss to Jorge Guerrero in just 2 rounds, being one that does leave lingering doubts though it's fair to say he has improved since that loss.
Fighting from a southpaw stance and having vicious power on both hands Mendoza is a night mare to fight in many ways though from a fans point of view it's almost certainly going to be fun to watch him in action. Prospective fights against the likes of Ryo Miyazaki, Jonathan Taconing. Rey Loreto and Felix Alvarado are all mouth watering match ups. Against Melindo we're not expecting a FOTY contender but we are expecting a thoroughly intriguing contest between Mendoza's aggression and Melindo's technical ability.
Coming in to this bout it's fair to say the challenger has the stronger resume however he's also the travelling fighter and will almost certainly find himself in a small ring with everyone working against him. In a big ring Melindo may have stood a chance but in a small we really can't see anything but a Mendoza win. The small the ring the less chasing Mendoza will need to do and the more he can just let his hands go. The champion will eat counters but given Melindo's lack of pop he will walk through them in the hope of finding a stoppage.
To Melindo's credit he is a gutsy fighter and we don't see him being stopped, but we do see him being well down on the cards come the final bell. He won't disgrace himself but it will be clear just how far behind some of his compatriots he is at the weight, including Taconing, Randy Petalcorin and, of course, Donnie Nietes who are all among the very best at 108lbs.