It's fair to say that January 2017 has been a slow burner, but today we had the first world title bout to be held on Asian soil for the year. The bout saw the unbeaten Wanheng Menayothin (44-0, 17) [วันเฮง ไก่ย่างห้าดาวยิม] narrowly retain the WBC Minimumweight title with a very close win over rising Filipino Melvin Jerusalem (11-1, 7). Although Wanheng won, and recorded the 6th defense of his title, it was actually the Filipino who came out with the enhanced reputation and it's fair to say that Wanheng will have been glad to have faced Jerusalem now, rather than in 12 months time.
The Filipino started hot and clearly won the first 2 rounds, using his speed, movement and work rate to make the champion look slow and sluggish. Although Jerusalem wasn't hurting the Thai he was putting him totally off his game and make life look easy as he prevented Wanheng from firing anything of note in his direction. In round 3 the Filipino slowed a tad and the champion managed to do just enough to impress the judges into giving him rounds 3 and 4, though both were close and likely would have gone to which ever fighter was at home.
After 4 rounds there was little complaining with the open scoring, with all 3 cards reading 38-38. Jerusalem took those cards as sign that close rounds weren't going to be his and he seemed to do enough late in round 5 to take the round, and sneak back into the lead. Sadly for the challenger that lead wouldn't last long with Wanheng spoiling through much of round 6 before landing some really eye catching shots late that would have left a lasting impression on the judges. Those shots seemed to spur on Wanheng who intelligently spoiled in round 7 to frustrate the Filipino and landed just enough to take the round.
The momentum continued to go with Wanheng who had a 10-8 round in round 8 when Jerusalem was deducted a harsh point for a low blow. The shot was low, but the deduction was harsh given it was a first offense in an other wise clean bout. That 10-8 round helped Wanheng hold a the advantage on the open scoring after 8 rounds, with a lead of 77-74 -twice and 78-74.
Round 9 was another where Wanheng seemed to spoil and bully. He pushed and threw a tired looking Jerusalem to the canvas whilst the challenger tried to land flurries in little raids. Unfortunately for the Filipino he looked too tired to get in and out before being tired up and tagged by single shots. The round, however, was one of the closer ones with it being perhaps the key swing round for the fight.
In the final 3 rounds a lazy and tired Wanheng did very little whilst a tired, and very arm weary, Jerusalem put it all on the line. It was as if Wanheng knew he'd done just enough and Jerusalem knew he'd have to secure a 10-8 round. That showed more as the final 3 rounds progressed, with Jerusalem doing everything he could in the final round to turn things around.
Sadly for the Filipino his great effort wasn't quite enough to over-come Wanheng, with the judges favouring the local fight with scores of 114-113, twice, and 115-113. We had it 114-113 to Wanheng, but feel that the Filipino came out looking like the fighter going places, whilst Wanheng is probably coming to the end of his long career. For Jerusalem the bout could either make him a new jewel for ALA or, possibly, the next Filipino to avoid, in a similar vein to Rey Loreto and Jonathan Taconing. If ALA can get Jerusalem some good 12 rounds through this year he really could be a very big force over the next decade or so.
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.