Newly-crowned World Boxing Organization minimumweight king Melvin Jerusalem admitted he was as shocked and stunned as the Japanese fighter he knocked out Thursday night in Osaka.
“I was very surprised,” Jerusalem told Daily Tribune in Pilipino in a video call yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after shutting the lights out of Taniguchi at the EDION Arena, Jerusalem was still trying to figure things out, still looking in awe following the biggest win of his career.
“I didn’t expect that he would go down that’s why I paused a bit when he hit the floor,” said the new Filipino boxing sensation.
The victory was a big one for Philippine boxing after a dismal 2022 when all five world champions lost their respective titles.
While Jerusalem expressed amazement over that seemingly harmless blow that felled Taniguchi, there was one guy in the corner who wasn’t.
What Jerusalem didn’t know was that punch — a sneaky right straight — was loaded.
“We have been perfecting that punch, that one-two combination: Left jab and right straight,” exclaimed Jerusalem’s chief trainer Michael Domingo.
The impact proved to be catastrophic for Taniguchi, who was making the second defense of the 105-lb diadem.
As Puerto Rican referee Roberto Ramirez began to administer the count, Taniguchi, a southpaw, tried to get up but he hit the floor anew since he was badly shaken.
The third man kept the count running but Taniguchi collapsed again, forcing Ramirez to call a halt to the scheduled 12-rounder.
Just seconds after the fight was over, Jerusalem held his promoter JC Mananquil in a tight embrace and whoop it up with Domingo and the rest of the triumphant team.
The new ring hero was scheduled to arrive in Manila midnight of Saturday for some interview and a few commitments brought about by his newfound fame.
But given Jerusalem’s work ethic and devotion to his craft, he will be reporting for training in no time.
“He loves to train and is disciplined,” Domingo said of the Bukidnon native who is managed by Japanese Noboyuki Matsuura of ZIP Boxing.
Jerusalem is an affectionate and decent human being as well apart from being a fitness freak.
Right after the rousing win, Jerusalem momentarily broke free from his team and walked to the fallen Japanese’s corner.
“I thanked him for the chance to fight for the (world) title… and I also told him that I’m sorry.”