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Filipino boxer targets world title in Nagoya

Melvin Jerusalem bids to become a world champion for the second time when he shoots for the World Boxing Council minimumweight title on 31 March in Nagoya. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Zip Sanman

One of two Filipino boxers tasked to end the world title drought for the Philippines on 31 March is right on track in his buildup, Melvin Jerusalem’s think-tank assured on Saturday.

Jerusalem battles World Boxing Council minimumweight champion Yudai Shigeoka at the International Conference Hall in Nagoya.

“So far, so good,” lead trainer Michael Domingo said, noting that the sparring phase has intensified.

Sparring with Jerusalam are Japanese Kiyuto Narukami and Filipinos Dariel Diamante of Jam Boxing, Yerroge Gura of ArQ and Mark Vicelles of Omega Boxing.

“He is doing good. His weight is in check and he is working hard to give the Philippines a world title,” JC Mananquil, the fighter’s promoter said.

This will be Jerusalem’s third world title shot.

In 2017, Jerusalem was beaten by Thailand’s Wanheng  Menayothin for the WBC 105-lb belt in Phitsanulok, Thailand.

Six years later in January 2023, Jerusalem got another chance and was lucky as he knocked out Masakata Taniguchi to win the World Boxing Organization version of the 105-lb strap.

But his reign was short-lived.

In May, he traveled to the United States and defended it for the first time against mandatory challenger Oscar Collazo of Puerto Rico.

Arriving less than two weeks before the fight at the Fantasy Spring Resort and Casino, Jerusalem quit on his stool at the end of the seventh stanza to surrender the championship.

A native of Manolo Fortich in Bukidnon, Jerusalem sports a 24-3 win-loss record with 12 knockouts.

Shigeoka, making the first defense of the WBC plum, packs an 8-0 ledger with five knockouts.

On the same night Jerusalem attempts to become a world champion for the second time, another Filipino boxer — Ar-Ar Andales — will get the opportunity to also win a world crown when he meets defending champion Ginjiro Shigeoka for the International Boxing Federation minimumweight diadem.

Andales brings to the ring a 14-2-3 slate with six knockouts while Shigeoka parades a 10-0 with eight knockouts.

Both Jerusalem and Andales are pressured to deliver given the misfortunes that have struck Philippine boxing lately.

Just before 2023 ended, Marlon Tapales lost to Naoya Inoue in a world super-bantamweight unification showdown at the Ariake Arena.

Last month, Jerwin Ancajas failed in his bold bid to become a two-division titleholder after sustaining a seventh-round knockout to Takuma Inoue in their World Boxing Association bantamweight encounter at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena.

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