When a fighter travels across the world the one thing that many fear is that the judging will go against them when a crowd roars on a local fighter. Sometimes however the judges aren't needed and rather than relying on them make a decision the home fighter looks to avoid controversy.
We had no real controversy this past Saturday when Filipino fighter Merlito Sabillo (23-1-1, 12) had his WBO Minimumweight ripped from him by talented and hard hitting Mexican Francisco Rodriguez Jr (14-2, 10).
Sabillo, who won the title last year in Colombia, was widely expected to know too much and be too good for the Mexican challenger. Instead we found out that the Mexican was too big, too strong, too powerful and too aggressive for the usually tough Filipino.
The Mexican's power and strength were clear from the opening round and by the end of round 2 Sabillo had already been knocked down and wrestled down. It was clear that Sabillo would be forced to dig deep just to survive never mind win.
Having gotten off to a perfect start Rodriguez seemed to quickly grow in confidence and kept up an intense pressure, non stop offensive work and a vicious body attack. Sabillo, to his credit, tried to answer back but it was simply too much, Rodriguez wasn't going to be denied no matter what Sabillo did and round after round you could see Sabillo wilting having his resistance chipped away at.
Sabillo's fate was effectively sealed in round 4, his best round. The Filipino managed to land some solid shots that seemed to just bounce off the challenger. It was as if Rodriguez was saying "you can hit me, but you can't hurt me" and if Sabillo still had any belief in himself it then vanished.
No matter what Sabillo did the challenger just kept coming with wave after wave of attacks, he was hell bent on stopping the Filipino and in rounds 8 and 9 things were beginning to get painful to watch. Sabillo was beginning to get genuinely battered and it looked like it was going to continue to the end of the fight. Thankfully though Sabillo's trainer seemed to know that his man was done and mid way through round 10 he signalled to referee Eddie Claudio to finish the contest, saving Sabillo before too much damage was done physically.
With this loss the Philippines are left with just 2 world champions, Donnie Nietes and Johnriel Casimero but of who now have the hopes of the Philippines on their shoulder with their up coming title defenses.
(Photo courtesy of Zanfer promociones)
Although the boxing day isn't yet over it's fair to say that we have already seen the "Fight of the Day" as Filipino Merlito Sabillo (23-0-1, 12) retained his WBO Minimumweight title in a war with Carlos Buitrago (27-0-1-1, 16).
Sabillo, defending his belt for the second time, knew he was in for a tough fight before the first bell had rang. What he likely didn't expect was just how tough that fight would be as Buitrago, a youngster from Nicaragua, lived up to the high level of expectation put on his shoulders.
The fight started tentatively with both men looking to fight off their jab. Unfortunately for Sabillo this was a style that suited the faster and taller Buitrago who appeared to take the lead after 3 rounds by just out boxing Sabillo.
In round 4 the champion picked up the pace and tried to turn the fight in to a brawl. Buitrago, using his control of range and effective jab, managed to avoid a tear up though Sabillo was coming closer and closer to turning the fight around.
Sabillo, for the first time, managed to cut the distance in round 5 and by round 6 he was beginning to connect with his own shots off on a more regular basis. Buitrago was clearly in the lead but Sabillo's fighting heart was showing through as he fought his back into the fight. Whilst Sabillo was starting to turn it around he certainly wasn't having things all his own way and at several points Buitrago landed bombs on him, shot that would likely have stopped many fighters at 112 never mind 105lbs.
The charge of Sabillo, especially in the later rounds, saw him doing enough to take a number of rounds as he applied more and more pressure. Each round became more about whether you preferred the clear and punching of Buitrago or the tenacity and work rate of Sabillo. By the end however it was clear that neither man deserved to lose. The great start of Buitrago had been a long time ago and with out a doubt Sabillo had closed the gap on the cards during the second half of the fight.
With neither man deserving to lose it's fair to say the judges got it right by scoring a draw. The judges, who were actually split, all agreed it was paper thin with one judge having it 114-114 whilst the others went 115-113 each way leading to a split draw.
Interestingly, for those wanting to allege that Sabillo kept his title due to a "home town decision", the judges were from America, Germany and Japan whilst the referee was American. The close nature of the bout has seen many calling for a rematch and we'd love to see these two up against each other once again, maybe even on a Pacquiao card where the men can have a deservedly large audience.
Note-This was the co-main feature of "Pinoy Pride XXIII", which also saw Donnie Nietes in a action against Sammy Gutierrez of Mexico. Of the two bouts we recommend everyone checks out this one rather than the other.
Courtesy of boxrec.com
Filipino "Tiger" Merlito Sabillo (23-0, 12) made the first defense of his WBO Minimumweight title as he disposed of the tricky but negative Colombian challenger Jorle Estrada (17-7, 6).
Sabillo, who had claimed his title in Colombia in March was facing a second successive Colombian fighter. Unfortunately for the Filipino fans Estrada was nothing like Sabillo's previous Colombian opponent Luis De La Rosa.
The Sabillo v De La Rosa fight was a memorable action bout with both men trying to claim the world title. This however was one man trying to defend his belt against a man merely trying to survive as opposed to win.
Estrada was negative from the opening round and appeared out of his depth after just a minute. Sabillo had seen enough in the first 60 seconds to know that he had nothing to fear from Estrada and instead of working his own jab he started to fire off lead left straights, several of which connected and made Estrada even more set on avoiding a fight.
With Estrada using his legs more than his hands Sabillo went to work on the challenger's midsection and appeared to hurt him there through many of the early rounds. Unfortunately every time Sabillo managed to hurt him, Estrada managed to just do enough to recover until the bell came and offered him some security.
You could tell through the middle rounds that Sabillo was getting frustrated at the negativity of his opponent but he kept applying intelligent pressure and targeting the body when he was in range. Unfortunately due to Estrada's movement the action was kept mostly to singles but Sabillo was making sure they counted every time they landed.
After a very poor round 7 in which neither man did much, despite Estrada promising a knockout in the round, Sabillo started to go back on the front foot and appeared to hurt Estrada once again.
With Estrada's body being the clear target and with Sabillo knowing he could hurt him there the champion set his feet and landed a monster shot to the gut early in round 9. The shot, which was thrown with more bad intentions than any other in the bout, crumpled Estrada to the canvas where he spat out his gum shield and took the 10 count.
We are expecting Sabillo to defend his title again early next year though the opponent seems to be down to ALA. Incidentally the WBO "interim" Minimumweight title is being fought for in a week as the unbeaten pair of Julian Yedras and Carlos Buitrago face off, maybe one of those would make an ideal dance partner for Sabillo (they would certainly make a more suitable one than Estrada).
With out trying to sound too harsh about Estrada, we hope we never have to see him again after this negative performance.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.