Melvin Jerusalem attempts to give the Philippines a headstart in its quest to regain its once lofty stature on the world stage when he battles Masataka Taniguchi for the World Boxing Organization minimumweight crown on 6 January in Osaka.
It will be Jerusalem’s second crack at a world championship and it will coincide with the Japanese titleholder’s second defense of the WBO 105-lb diadem.
Back in 2017, Jerusalem traveled to Thailand and fought Waning Menayothin for the World Boxing Council’s version of the minimumweight plum and lost on points.
But things have drastically changed since then.
Jerusalem is now more matured and experienced, giving the Bukidnon-born fighter a bigger chance of breaking the jinx that has befallen Philippine boxing the last 18 months.
Jerusalem, now handled by the ever-busy JC Mananquil of General Santos City, packs a 19-2 record with 11 knockouts.
The southpaw Taniguchi, who beat all but one of his eight Filipino rivals, sports a 16-3 mark also with 11 knockouts.
“I will outperform him in every aspect and show the difference,” Taniguchi told Japanese media during the official press conference of his duel with Jerusalem.
If victorious, Jerusalem will provide Philippine boxing a big boost in confidence as several boxers are also scheduled to vie for world titles in the first few months of 2023 following a heartbreaking campaign in 2022.
This year alone, all five Filipino world champions lost their titles on top of the ring and one via technicality.
Those who lost theirs in a fight were Jerwin Ancajas, Mark Magsayo, Rene Cuarto and Nonito Donaire. John Riel Casimero lost his wing to back-to-back infractions relative to making weight.
On the cusp of fighting for world titles are Los Angeles-based Marlon Tapales and Jade Bornea, Donaire and Vincent Astrolabio, who has been making waves lately.
Ancajas and Magsayo have also been promised another opportunity for the world title in the coming year.