Earlier today fans at the Cebu Coliseum saw local star Milan Melindo (35-2, 12) claim the IBF "interim" Light Flyweight title and secure a shot at the regular title as he out pointed Thai youngster Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (31-4-1, 15) [ศักดิ์กรีรินทร์] over 12 rounds.
The home fighter, with the crowd well behind him, started well by using his skills to keep Fahlan off balance and prevented the Thai from building any real momentum, despite applying the pressure. Fahlan did eventually land with a key shot that opened up a cut on Melindo's nose and forced the Filipino to be a bit more wary, as he focused on body shots, attempting to slow Fahlan down.
By round 6 it did seem like Melindo was in charge and in round 7 he had one of his best rounds, wobbling Fahlan who had to grit his teeth to see out the round. Despite bing hurt in the 7th Fahlan came out firing in rounds 8 and 9 and seemed to win both of those to close up the scorecards as Melindo's output dropped and the Thai came into the bout.
Despite crawing his way back into the fight Fahlan was unable to do enough in the championship rounds to make up for the early rounds and Melindo had an excellent round 12, letting bombs go, to seal the result.
After 12 rounds it seemed like Melindo, with the crowd supporting him and the home advantage, had done enough to secure the victory and that proved to be the case with the Filipino getting the decision by scores of 115-113, twice, and 117-111.
With the win Melindo essentially books a bout with full champion Akira Yaegashi, and the hope is for Yaegashi Vs Melindo to be made for December 30th, though the cut may force the bout to be delayed until 2017. Sadly for Fahlan this was a second loss in a world title bout, however at the age of 23 he will almost certainly bounce back and get another down the line.
It's been a busy day for Japanese fans today, especially those in Osaka who managed to have a fantastic show featuring a former world champion, a Japanese title fight and a pair of world title bouts. It really was as good a show as many fans could have hoped for.
The first of those world title bouts came at Minimumweight where IBF champion Katsunari Takayama (29-7-0-1, 11) risked his title against upset minded Thai Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr (27-4-1, 15).
For many Japanese fans Sakkreerin Jr is best remembered for his previous fight in Osaka, when he stopped former WBA Minimumweight champion Ryo Miyazaki in 3 rounds, in what was a late contender for the 2013 upset of the year. He returned to Osaka with the same mindset, believing he could shock the bigger name and win score a major shock.
In the opening round things were really close. Takayama was trying to sneak in and out whilst Sakkreerin was boxing well using his reach and height to catch Takayama as he came in. It was close, competitive and, like many opening rounds, one that could have gone either way with out much debate. It was however the only really close round of the fight of the fight.
In round 2 the Japanese fighter began to make a point as he applied intense pressure, back the Thai up and and began to motor threw the gears through a high volume of shots. Not all of them were getting through but it was clear that Takayama was showing his challenger who the boss was whilst Sakkreerin was doing little more than backing up, covering himself and tried to avoid the onslaught. It looked as if the Thai was hoping to ride out the storm and fight back against a tiring Takayama. The Thai's hopes however were slow to come to fruition and by round 5 it was clear Takayama had bounds of energy and was taking a huge lead due to his intense work rate. To his credit Sakkreerin did begin to fire back with some counters though they often appeared to be thrown more out desperation than anything too educated and they were few and far between.
In round 7 we saw Takayama given his first moments of discomfort as his left eye was cut following a clash of heads, a round later his right eye was cut, again from a clash of heads. The blood seemed to throw Takayama slightly as the champion became slightly more cautious and started to pick his spots. It was obvious that the facial injuries were bother the champion who was inspected twice during round 9 before the bout was stopped after 2:19 of the round.
The stoppage elected massive celebrations from the Thai's team who seemed to feel their man had won the bout with a TKO. Takayama looked resigned as he walked back to his corner though all was not as it seemed and a few moments later the men were brought to the center of the ring with the scorecards being read out. It was clear that the Thai's celebrations had come too soon as the cards were announced as being 86-85,90-81 and 87-84, all in favour of Takayama.
The champion, swollen and bloodied, looked like he had been the one taking a beating as his hand was raised. This keeps alive bouts against Kosei Tanaka, who was ringside, and Hekkie Budler, though neither of those will have seen anything here to worry them too much. For Sakkreerin this loss would have hurt considering how he had celebrated, however it seems clear that the Thai is a tough kid and a move back to 108lbs will almost certainly serve him well. Although Sakkreerin lost he will certainly come again given his age, toughness, and willingness to travel to face big names.
(Image, from a post fight conference, courtesy of boxingnews.jp)
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.