Courtesy of Boxrec.com
Filipino challenger Milan Melindo (29-1, 12) took on the best Flyweight on the planet in Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2, 18), the WBA "super" and WBO champion, and whilst he came up short he proved that he belonged on the world level.
The Mexican champion, who incidentally won his world title in the same venue back in April by defeating Brian Viloria, went in as a clear betting favourite. Despite this Melindo seemed unfazed by the under-dog tag and after a quiet couple of rounds he started to come to life.
Using his excellent handspeed and crisp straight shots Melindo began to force Estrada back and even appeared to rock the champion as he began to his feet in the bout. It appeared, from round 3 onward that the challenger was up to the task and through the middle section of the fight he really showed why so many in the Philippines rave about him as he rattled off wonderful combinations on Estrada.
Although much of the bout was a high speed chess match it was clear that Melindo had both the speed and the boxing brain to hold his own with Estrada who at times actually seemed to run from the challenger. It was also surprising that Melindo appeared to have the power to hurt Estrada, something that Brian Viloria and Roman Gonzalez both struggled to do.
Unfortunately for the challenger he was often being tagged in the body by hard single shots from the champion who is one of the sports truly under-rated body punchers. These shots appeared to be taking their toll in the latter rounds with Melindo's offense becoming less and less notable from 9 onwards as Estrada began to bully a tiring challenger.
With Estrada coming on strong Melindo was going to have to fight off a determined champion and whilst he was holding his own in the trenches in round 10 he was clearly running out of gas.
As Melindo's work rate decreased and Estrada continued the charge Melindo was forced to take the power of Estrada who dropped him in round 11 as he started to turn the screw on the challenger. Melindo was again rocked in round 12 as Estrada tried to force an early conclusion though the Filipino showed his fighting spirit and saw out the final round.
Although the Filipino had fought his heart out and many felt he had pushed the champion all the way the judges seemed unimpressed by Melindo and had Estrada as a run away winner, claiming a lopsided decision as a result.
The scorecards may make fans, and Melindo himself, feel he was thoroughly outgunned though in all honesty most neutrals who watched the fight will know that he gave Estrada as tough a contest as Viloria did just a few short months ago.
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