MANILA, Philippines — Milan Melindo won the interim IBF junior flyweight title by gutting out a hard-fought decision against Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. of Thailand at the main event of Pinoy Pride 39: Road to Redemption on Saturday at the Cebu Coliseum.
Melindo managed to fight off a determined challenge by Fahlan, fending off the rangy Thai with well-timed counters.
The man called "El Metodico" acknowledged he had to change tactics midway through the bout when he got caught with a punch that opened a cut on his nose.
"Our training was different. That's not our style. I was going for body shots and I was protecting my nose because it was cut," Melindo said.
He added that his conditioning training with Pio Solon also helped him survive Fahlan's constant pressure.
Melindo nearly had the Thai down in Round 7 when he rocked Fahlan with a left to the temple. He followed it up with a straight and another left that forced the Thai to be defensive all as the round was about to end.
Fahlan was having some success in Rounds 8 and 9 where he connected some solid shots against Melindo, who appeared to be saving his strength.
In Round 12, Melindo came out swinging, landing some big shots before the final bell sounded.
The judges saw it 115-113, 117-111 and 117-111 all in favor of Melindo.
"This is the last Pinoy Pride fight this year. Thank you very much for all your support. I wouldn't have made it through without you," he said.
This was Melindo's third try for a world title. His first was in 2013 when he lost to Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico in Macau.
Melindo had his second try against Javier Mendoza in 2015 but settled for a sixth-round technical decision.
Pagara brothers triumphant, too
In the supporting bout, Jason “El Nino” Pagara made short work of former world champion Jose Alfaro of Nicaragua.
Pagara, the WBO's No. 1 junior welterweight champion, consistently pressured the Nicaraguan with vicious shots to the body right from the opening bell.
Pagara dug Alfaro with a left hook to the liver and this dropped the visiting fighter to his knees. In pain, Alfaro failed to beat the count, forcing the referee to award a knockout victory to El Nino.
Pagara’s younger sibling, “Prince” Albert Pagara, also made a successful comeback on Saturday by beating Ghana’s Raymond Commey on points.
Albert, who lost via knockout to Mexican slugger Cesar Juarez last July, had his Ghanaian foe in trouble near the end of Round 5. But Commey managed to stand his ground, frustrating Albert with a flurry of punches.
In the ninth round, Albert staggered Commey again, but he failed to finish off his foe.
The Prince eventually settled for a unanimous decision victory, with all judges scoring 99-91.
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