World champ Milan Melindo relishes cheers from hometown crowd
Santino Honasan on Sep 18, 2017 01:50 PM
"Napaka-happy ko dahil hindi nabale-wala yung lahat ng sakripisyo ko,"
When Milan 'El Metodico' Melindo captured the IBF light-flyweight world championship in Japan, the ALA Boxing product was met with stunned silence.
He had just knocked out one of Japan's most popular champions in Akira Yaegashi, after all, so the reaction from the hometown crowd wasn't surprising.
Prior to the knockout however, all that the Pinoy could hear was the the fans, chanting Yaegashi's name.
Fast-forward five months later, Melindo was inside the ring once again, but this time, it was his name being chanted, as he defended his title for the first time.
From the opening bell right up to the official decision, the packed Waterfront Hotel and Casino crowd in Cebu City made it clear who they were rooting for.
"Masayang-masaya po ako, dahil yung mga boxing fans, hindi nila ako pinabayaan, gustong-gusto talaga nila akong manalo dahil sinisigaw nila yung pangalan ko." Melindo shared with ABS-CBN Sports after the grueling 12-round war against South African challenger Hekkie Budler. "Yung pagkatapos ng laban, pagka-taas ko ng kamay, cheering pa din sila kahit hindi pa na-dedeclare yung panalo."
Overcoming two massive cuts above both eyebrows, Melindo eked out a Split Decision win to retain his IBF title, much to the delight of the Cebuano crowd.
"Pagka-panalo, ayun nagsisigawan na silang lahat, so napaka-happy ko, na-appreciate nila yung ginawa ko at yung resulta ng laban."
While Melindo is a native of Cagayan de Oro, the champ now resides in Cebu, where he trains in the famed ALA Boxing Gym. Over the year's 'El Metodico' has become a household name in the so-called Boxing Mecca of the Philippines, along with guys like Donnie Nietes and Mark Magsayo.
More than anything however, Melindo says that it's knowing that all his hard work paid off at the end.
"Napaka-happy ko dahil hindi nabale-wala yung lahat ng sakripisyo ko, na lumaban ako hanggang sa huli, kahit marami na akong sugat sa mata."
Saturday night, Melindo shared one of his career's biggest moments with the fans in Cebu.
They chanted his name and cheered for him every step of the way.
A far cry from the stunned silence he recieved in Japan.