Last year was a funny year for unbeaten Filipino Merlito Sabillo (23-0-1, 12). He started the year a complete unknown before stopping Colombian Luis De la Rosa to claim the WBO interim Minimumweight title. From this his popularity blossomed and he looked very solid in his first defense, stopping the limited Colombian Jorle Estrada in the 9th round.
Unfortunately for Sabillo his second defense didn't go so well and he struggled to a draw with Nicaragua's exciting youngster Carlos Buitrago. It was a fight that could have been a contender for Fight of the Year though many felt the result was a home town decision to keep Buitrago as the champion.
Whatever you thought of the Sabillo/Buitrago result is immaterial now and Sabillo will be looking to put it behind him as he travels to Mexico for his 3rd defense. Whilst it would have been nice to see him give Buitrago a rematch on neutral soil Sabillo will instead be facing dangerous Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr (13-2, 9), a man ranked #10 by the WBO at Minimumweight and #14 by the WBC at Light Flyweight.
Although a relative unknown the 20 year old Rodriguez is a a fighter with more than 3 years of professional experience under his belt. Those 3 years and 15 professional contests have seen him sharing the ring with some decent fighters, most notable Roman Gonzalez, who stopped Rodriguez in 7 rounds,
and Manuel Vargas, who was stopped in 3 by Rodriguez.
What we know of Rodriguez is that he is gutsy, you don't fight Roman Gonzalez unless you have real guts and courage and he is hard hitting with 9 stoppages in 13 wins. However he's also limited in terms of his boxing ability and the few decision wins he does, other than his most recent against Ernesto Guerrero, have been close. It seems that if his power doesn't take you out then he struggles.
Sabillo on the other hand is a talented fighter who has come from a street fighting background and has since had to develop into a boxer. In terms of his power he wasn't blessed with it but had to work on it. His first 11 bouts saw him scoring just 3 stoppages and his first 18 fights saw him with just 7 stoppages. Since then however he has began to believe in his own power and scored 5 stoppages in 6 fights with only Carlos Buitrago surviving 12 rounds with the Filipino.
In terms of experience it's to pick against Sabillo who has proven he's a warrior, proven his toughness and even proven that he's capable of fighting well on the road with his victory last year in Colombia. He might not be anything special but he's that solid type of fighter who will never be easy to beat and in fact it'll take a true divisional elite to beat him.
As for Rodriguez, he may have home advantage but it's hard to see him making it to the final bell. It took Gonzalez 7 rounds to stop the Mexican and whilst Sabillo doesn't hit as hard as "Chocolatito" we don't imagine it'll take him much longer to see off the Mexican maybe 9 or 10 rounds.
Hopefully the winner here will give Buitrago a shot later in the year though we could understand both fighters being apprehensive of "Chocorroncito".
(Photo courtesy of http://www.alaboxing.com)
Filipino boxing fans are amongst the best in the world. Of course it's easy to support the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, two global stars of the sport, but the Pinoy's seem to turn up en mass to watch any of their promising fighters.
One man who has recently gone from being an unknown to a fan favourite in the Philippines is Merlito Sabillo (23-0, 12). Less than a year ago Sabillo was a complete unknown who's most notable result had been a stoppage of Jonathan Refugio for the OPBF Minimumweight title. Now however he is the WBO world champion at 105lbs and a man hunting his second defense of that crown.
Sabillo, unlikely many, had to do things the hard way. He had to travel away from home to take the WBO "interim" title with a victory over Luis De La Rosa over in front of a hostile crowd in Colombia.
Since claiming the title Sabillo has defended it once stopping Jorle Estrada in what was Sabillo's first ever fight in Metro Manila, a place that he returns to this coming Saturday as he battles fellow unbeaten Carlos Buitrago (27-0-0-1, 16).
For years Buitrago has been viewed as the spiritual successor to Roman Gonzalez as Nicaragua's new wonder kid. He has been sparring with top fighters for years and looked every bit of a future world champion. Aged 21 however he is still a baby in terms of boxing and although he has 28 fights on his ledger he has yet to fight in Asia and is also yet to face a world level opponent, two things he will be experiencing for the first time here.
From watching Buitrago he's always appeared to be a very talented young man. He lacks the destructiveness of Gonzalez he has got stinging power that can really shake fighters when he lands cleanly. We're not sure how that will carry up to the world stage but it's certainly something that he'll believe in. What impresses us so much about Buitrago is actually his understanding inside the ring. He uses the jab excellently, moves well, controls the distance well and has a very varied arsenal.
Not only is Buitrago's attack varied but it also looks very fluid. His jab coming forward is excellent, his counter left hook is sharp, his uppercuts are snappy and his straight looks like it could be very potent.
Although we're big fans of Buitrago, as we are of any talented fighter, we do think this fight is too early for him as Sabillo is a man who really impresses us.
The Filipino champion has proven to be tough, talented and a fighter who is becoming more and more confident in his own power. This self belief has seen Sabillo stopping his last 5 opponent after stopping just 7 of his first 18 foes. The best part of Sabillo's stoppages however has been the fact they've been so varied. He stopped De La Rosa with shots upstairs before taking out Estrada with a vicious body shot.
Going in to this bout it's the body shots of Sabillo that we think will be the telling shots. Sure the Filipino southpaw will take a fair few shots from Buitrago as he tries to land them but when he manages to connect with them it'll seem like a man against a boy with Buitrago slowly coming undone in the second half of the fight.
Thankfully, for those who remember watching Sabillo's fight with Estrada, this should genuine be a much more enjoyable contest than Sabillo's first defense which was unexciting to say the least due to the negativity of the challenger who didn't seem to have any self belief. With Buitrago bringing an unbeaten record with him he won't be looking to just roll over and as a result this should be a genuinely entertaining scrap and one of the genuine highlights of "Pinoy Pride XXIII"
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Unbeaten Filipino Merlito Sabillo (22-0, 11) planted his name on the boxing world back in March when he traveled to Colombia and defeated Luis De La Rosa for the "interim" WBO Minimumweight title. The fight was a memorable one with Sabillo scoring his 22nd straight victory and extending to a 4 fight T/KO run.
Although not a name known by the casuals Sabillo is now the the WBO Minimumweight champion (due to Moises Fuentes moving up through the weights) and is preparing for the first defense of his title.
Just like in the bout that saw Sabillo claiming his title his first defense will also come against a Colombian as he takes on the completely unknown Jorle Estrada (17-6, 6) at the Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Pasay City.
Whilst not too much is known by the wider boxing community about Sabillo he's a fighter who has been on the Filipino scene for some 5 years and done things "the traditional way" claiming a Filipino title and an OPBF title before moving into the world level.
As a fighter Sabillo is a highly talented southpaw with speed, skills and very under-rated power. Sure he's not a power puncher but his clean shots hurt and in recent bouts he's been sitting on his punches more as his confidence has built up. It was that very confidence that help him go over to Colombia and claim the title in the first place.
Whilst we know plenty about Sabillo we have to admit that we don't really know too much about Estrada with footage being limited and general information being relative sparse.
Estrada is the WBO #6 ranked Minimumweight. Aged 24 he's been a professional since late 2008 and started his career with a 10 fight winning streak. Since then however Estrada has gone 7-6, though admittedly he's been facing a higher quality of opponent to those he faced at the beginning.
Amongst those to have beaten Estrada are former title challengers Walter Tello, Pedro Guevara and Carlos Velarde (best known for his recent loss to Ryo Miyazaki) as well as the promising Carlos Buitrago. He has been stopped in 3 of his 6 losses however he comes in to this bout on a run of 4 victories and having claimed the South American Minimumweight title.
From the footage available of Estrada he looks really poor. His punches are often pushed and lack any real force behind them, he seems to rely on his feet and movement more than anything else defensively and he can be caught to both the head and body with ease.
What doesn't help Estrada is that away from Colombia he is 0-3. His fights so far have all been in Latin America and with this bout being in the Philippines he'll really feel away from home.
With how good Sabillo is it's hard to imagine him really struggling with someone as limited as Estrada. The skill, speed and power as well as the home advantage should all see Sabillo through to victory, probably inside the distance.
World Title Previews
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