Melindo strug­gles to make weight

Still pumped up to de­fend his IBF ti­tle against IBO champ Budler tonight

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - Le­muel P. Maglinte ALDO NELBERT BANAYNAL

It took him al­most two hours to shed off ex­tra poundage that nearly cost him his belt.

Phys­i­cally drained as he may seem, his men­tal fo­cus is still in­tact. His con­fi­dence stays at its high­est level. His de­sire to pro­tect his throne and put on a show be­fore his home­town fans never wa­vered.

Af­ter a hard grind on the scales, Mi­lan 'El Me­tod­ico' Melindo (36-2, 13KOs) re­mains up­beat and is all pumped up to de­fend his IBF light fly­weight ti­tle against the reigning IBO 108-pound king Hekkie ‘Hex­e­cu­tioner’ Budler (31-2, 10KOs) of South Africa in a high­lyan­tic­i­pated show­down of world cham­pi­ons head­lin­ing the ‘Pi­noy Pride 42: Clash for Glory’ tonight at the Pa­cific grand ball­room of Water­fron­tCebu City Ho­tel & Casino.

Trou­ble set in early for Melindo, who had a dif­fi­culty mak­ing weight dur­ing the of­fi­cial weigh-in yes­ter­day at The Events Cen­tre of SM City Cebu.

Af­ter go­ing 1.4 pounds over the reg­u­la­tory weight limit of 108 lbs. dur­ing his first at­tempt, the al­ready ex­hausted Melindo was given two hours by the IBF to get the weight or be stripped of his ti­tle. Af­ter some time on the steam room, he even­tu­ally took out his ex­cess bag­gage.

"I just prayed to God that I will get the weight,” said the Melindo, who shrugged off the idea that his per­for­mance for tonight will be af­fected by the gru­el­ing weight cut. “Noth­ing has changed. I am still con­fi­dent for to­mor­row’s (to­day) fight. I just need to re­cover my strength.”

“My legacy is at stake here. I won’t waste this chance to prove that I am a le­git­i­mate world cham­pion. I will keep that belt,” as­sure thre fight­ing pride of Ca­gayan de Oro City.

In sharp con­trast, Budler eas­ily tipped in the scales at ex­actly 108 pounds. He be­lieves that that will work to his ad­van­tage over the Filipino champ.

So ready is the South African vis­i­tor to bring the fight to Melindo that warned the ALA boxer to pre­pare him­self for his bell-to-bell duel.

“What hap­pened there (in the weigh-in) just showed who among the two of us is more pre­pared. Un­like him, I am very fit and I can even go 20 rounds,” said Budler. “I flew half­way around the world just to chal­lenge for the cham­pi­onship and I am very se­ri­ous in tak­ing it home to South Africa.”

ALA Pro­mo­tions President and CEO Michael Aldeguer ad­mit­ted that he was baf­fled af­ter see­ing Melindo hav­ing a hard time mak­ing weight.

“Hon­estly, I was sur­prised,” said Aldeguer. “It’s now on his (Melindo) hands on how he can sur­pass this chal­lenge. I am still pos­i­tive be­cause Mi­lan is a tal­ented boxer. Right now, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

In a must-see sup­port­ing bout of the slam­bang show co­p­re­sented by ALA Pro­mo­tions and ABS-CBN Sports, for­mer two-di­vi­sion champ John­riel ‘Quadro’Alas Casimero (24-3, 15KOs) will trade fistic bombs with Jonas ‘Zorro’ Sul­tan (133, 9KOs) in an ex­cit­ing al­lPi­noy IBF ju­nior ban­tamweight elim­i­na­tor.

In the other fea­tured match-ups, Ja­son ‘El Niño’ Pa­gara (40-2, 25KOs) will slug it out with vet­eran Kenyan James ‘Onyi’ Onyango (23-11, 19KOs) in a 10 round non-ti­tle match, while 'King' Arthur Vil­lanueva (30-2, 16KOs) will take on the bat­tle-scarred Richie Mepranum (31-6, 8KOs).

IBF light fly­weight cham­pion Mi­lan 'El Me­tod­ico' Melindo and his IBO coun­ter­part Hekkie ‘Hex­e­cu­tioner’ Budler of South Africa pose dur­ing the of­fi­cial weigh-in of the ‘Pi­noy Pride 42: Clash for Glory’ yes­ter­day at The Event Cen­tre of SM City-Cebu. They are flanked by ALA Pro­mo­tions President Michael Aldeguer (L) and GAB com­mis­sioner Fritz Gas­ton.

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