WBO Youth Lightweight Champion Jason Pagara (left) and WBO Asia Pacific Mini Flyweight Champion Milan Melindo hold up their belts as challenger Juma Fundi of Tanzania strikes a pose with his trainer, Emmanuel Mlundwa. Beaming from the back are ALA Promotions VP Dennis Cañete, Gov. Oscar Moreno and Leolet Stable's Kate Lazarito. (Photo by Mike Baños)
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines - The Mandalay Bay of Mindanao. That's what Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno aims to make The Atrium of Limketkai Center in Cagayan de Oro: The Premier Boxing Destination in Mindanao.
"Even above boxing and sports, we want to show the world how the vast majority of the people in Mindanao live in peace and harmony so people can say Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental and Northern Mindanao are peaceful," Moreno told a press conference Tuesday afternoon for Thursday's scheduled World Boxing Organization Asia-Pacific Mini-Flyweight Championship between local boy Milan Melindo and Juma Fundi of Tanzania in Africa.
Melindo, whom boxing commentator Ronnie Nathanielsz calls as "probably the best boxer in the star-studded ALA Gym of respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer" will make his second defense of his crown when he clashes with Fundi in the main event of a 60-round extravaganza of ALA Promotions in association with Misamis Oriental Governor Oscar Moreno and Leolet-Misamis Oriental.
The 20-yr. old Melindo (16-0-0, 4 KOs) of Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, is not only placing his crown on the line against the lanky African but also his clean slate. Last July 26, he defeated WBA No. 4 contender Carlos Melo of Panama for the WBA Intercontinental light flyweight title in Cebu City. He is also rated at No. 2 by the WBO, No. 16 by the WBC and No. 7 by the WBA.
Although he has only nine fights, Fundi appears to be no patsy. He has more KOs at 5 than Melindo, and has only lost one bout vs. WBO Oriental Flyweight champ Richie Mepranum in Maasim, Sarangani last June 14, 2008.
"That fight was fought at 108 lbs., the first time he fought against a flyweight and over six rounds," said Emmanuel Mlundwa, Fundi's trainer, a former East and Central African champion (1975-1978), All-African Games Silver Medalist (1978) and a former Olympian who represented Tanzania at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. "At his natural weight of 105 lbs., he needed only seconds to knock out his last opponent."
Last August 31st, Fundi knocked out compatriot Sadat Miyeyusho in the first round in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania. He also has two other first round stoppages against Musa Shuza last February 23 and Jumanne Mtengela in September 9, 2007.
If Melindo wins, ALA would probably send him to Dubai for his first international fight, said Dennis Cañete, vice president of ALA Promotions. In a report posted in philboxing.com website, Nathanielz quoted Michael Aldeguer as saying Melindo could be matched against Omar Soto of Mexico or with former world champion Indonesian Muhammad Rachman who lost his title to the Philippines Florante Condes on July 7, 2007 in Jakarta.
In the supporting bout, 16-year old teen sensation Jason Pagara of Cagayan de Oro (15-1-0, 9 KOs) the WBO Asia-Pacific Youth champion will seek to fill the vacant Philippine lightweight title against RP No.4 contender Arnel Porras of Kidapawan, North Cotabato (9-15-3, 4 KOs), himself a former RP lightweight champion.
The other supporting bout, a "grudge match" between Eusebio Baluarte of Valencia City, Bukidnon (11-1-0, 5 KOs) and Jury Noda of Manila (5-9-1, 4 KOs) has been cancelled after Baluarte unexpectedly contracted chicken pox, Moreno said. Baluarte earlier defeated Noda with a 10th round TKO on Feb. 13, 2008 in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
In the undercard, Weng Haya of Malitbog, Bukidnon goes up against Jaime Barcelona of Valencia City, Bukidnon (130 lbs-8 rds); Romeo Jako of Digos, Davao del Sur battles William George of Kidapawan City, Cotabato (133 lbs-8 rds) and ABS/CBN idol champion Jerson Mancio of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur goes up against Saldy Calamba of Camiguin (109 lbs-6 rds); Marlon Tapalez of Maranding, Lanao del Norte battles Roilo Golez of Bukidnon (106 lbs-6 rds); Mark Anthony Geraldo of Valencia City, Bukidnon fights Junrey Naïve of Butuan (112 lbs-4 rds) and Dondon Tumala of Valencia City battles Ronnel Suco of Butuan (124 lbs-4 rds).
Tickets have been pegged at P100 (general admission); P300 (lower box), P400 (ringside) and P600 (sponsor) and can be bought at all Dunkin' Donut outlets, Limketkai Center Customer Service, Clark Hatch, USA Sports in Gaisano Mall and the Misamis Oriental Provincial Administrator's Office with tel. nos. (08822) 710965, 720763 and 724347. (Mike Baños)