On July 27th at the Venetian Casino & Resort in Macau unbeaten Filipino Milan Melindo (29-0, 12) gets the chance to announce himself on the world stage.
Viewed by many as "the best kept secret in Filipino boxing", Melindo will be hoping to go from "secret" to "superstar" as he takes on Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (24-2, 18) for the WBO and WBA "super" titles at Flyweight in what will be Estrada's first title defense.
Less than a year ago Estrada was in a similar position to what Melindo is in now. He was talented but unknown and under-rated. That changed when Estrada gave former Teiken fighter Roman Gonzalez a thoroughly competitive contest last November in a fight of the year candidate.
Although Estrada lost to Gonzalez he had made a huge impression and just a few months later he defeated Filipino-American Brian Viloria. With that win Estrada not only claimed 2 world titles but also put himself on the boxing map as one of the worlds elite Flyweights (alongside Akira Yaegashi).
Like Estrada was against Viloria, Melindo is the under-dog here but a very live under-dog who will certainly be looking for the upset.
Aged 25 Melindo is a fighter who has been been creating a buzz in and around the Philippines and with good reason. Not only does he boast an impressive unbeaten record but he has also showcased the skills that suggest he could well be a future world champion.
Although Melindo has yet to fight in a world title bout it's relatively fair to suggest that he does deserve to be considered as capable at the world level. He has already defeated 4 former world champions in the form of Muhammad Rachman, Carlos Tamara, Jesus Geles and Jean Piero Perez and also holds victories over title challengers Francisco Rosas and Carlos Melo.
Inside of the ring of Melindo is a technically solid fighter who has a lovely variety of punches to both the head and body. He can box behind his jab though in recent bouts he has seemed very willing to stand in front of his opponents and counter them up close. It's been this willingness to fight up close in recent bouts that has seen him stopping 5 of his last 6 opponents (compared to just 7 in his first 23 bouts) .
In Estrada, Melindo will be facing a genuine beast. The Mexican 23 year old is a huge fighter at the weight, in fact he's probably a natural Super Flyweight. He's not just big but he's tough, relentless, hard hitting and seems to have infinite stamina.
Stylistically Estrada is pretty much your typical Mexican. He comes to the ring for a fight and will happily go to war with an opponent in an attempt to grind them down in a battle of wills. What helps him win these battles is his tremendous body attack which is one of the best in the sport and so devastating that very few fighters will manage to survive.
For Melindo to win he needs to forget about standing in front of Estrada. Letting Estrada apply the pressure with out moving would be suicide here. He needs to box, move and avoid a tear up at all costs. If Melindo cannot establish a safe distance from Estrada and control the pace this will become a hugely entertaining bout for fans but a very painful one for Melindo who lacks the power needed to back Estrada up (like Gonzalez was able to).
If the bout becomes a firefight there's only one winner and sadly it won't be the man who currently resides in Cebu city. If he can keep the action at range and make Estrada chase him however there is potential for the upset.
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.