The first world title fight to take place in Asia this year is set for January 25th and takes place all the way down at Minimumweight where the under-rated WBC champion Wanheng Menayothin (44-0, 17) looks to make the 6th defense of his title. The talented Thai will be facing a fellow unbeaten as he takes on 22 year old Filipino puncher Melvin Jerusalem (11-0, 7) who is taking a huge step up in class to fight in his first world title fight, and his first fight outside of his homeland.
The champion is, in some ways, a typical Thai with a record that has been padded and is filled with less than notable names. He is however a fighter who is among the best Minimumweights on the planet, and is genuinely under-rated, due in part to the number of easy wins he has on his record. Despite the easy wins he does hold a number of notable victories over the likes of Florante Condes, Oswaldo Novoa, Jerry Tomogdan,Go Odaira and Saul Juarez.
In the ring Wanheng is a brilliant little pressure fighter. Defensively he is tight and reliable but it's his front foot pressure work that is key as he walks opponents down and breaks them up with combinations and solid body shots. He's not a puncher, as his record makes clear, but he's a talented pressure fighter who mentally and physically beats opponents until they eventually fold. That has seen him stopping 6 of his last 9 and he is 6-0 (4) in world title bouts with his stoppages typically coming in the later rounds.
At 31 Wanheng is probably at the end of his prime, especially given he's a Minimumweight, and with 346 rounds under his belt he is no spring chicken. However he's a fighter who has shown no real slow down in the ring and has looked after himself brilliantly. He may be on the slide but it's certainly not something we have seen in the ring during his fights.
Little known challenger Jerusalem has impressed on the domestic Filipino scene with some in the country viewing him as their new rising in the lowest weight class. He debuted back in July 2014, scoring a decision win over Michael Camelion, and then followed that up with 7 straight stoppages including a win over Crison Omayao. That stoppage run came to an end last year, when he took a decision win over veteran Florante Condes, and he has since taken decisions over Jonathan Refugio and Fabio Marfa.
In the ring Jerusalem looks to be a fun fighter with decent power, nice movement and clever defence on the back foot. He made Condes look like a foolish novice at times, in fact his movement saw Condes flail wildly before throwing himself to the canvas one point, but the lack of footage really does prevent us getting a great read on him, with only a few clips here and there being available. From what is available he does look promising, but there isn't a lot available.
Although Jerusalem is tipped for something big we have seen a number of similar fighters, unbeaten youngster tipped for stardom, fall short in recent years. That includes former Wanheng challenger Jeffrey Galero, who was 11-0 (5) when he challenged Wanheng but is now 14-3 (7) with his career on the rocks. He will need to be aware of just how much of a step up this really is, if he doesn't he will be eaten alive by Wanheng here.
What we're expecting is a strong start by the visitor, who will look to use his speed and movement to pick up a number of the early rounds. As the bout goes on however Wanheng will start to break him down and in the middle rounds we'll see Jerusalem slowing significantly before either limping over the line en route to a wide decision loss, or a stoppage loss as Wanheng turns the screw and uses his experience in the champiuonship rounds
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.