Jerusalem knocks out Taniguchi in second round of WBO title duel in Japan

By: Glendale Rosal - CDN Digital Correspondent | January 07,2023 - 06:17 AM

Melvin Jerusalem

Melvin Jerusalem wearing the WBO world minimumweight belt around his waist while spreading the Philippine flag after defeating Masataka Taniguchi on Friday evening, January 6, 2023 in Osaka, Japan. | Photo from the WBO Twitter Page

CEBU CITY, Philippines—- Bukidnon’s pride, Melvin “Gringo” Jerusalem finally ended the world title drought for the Philippines in boxing after dethroning the World Boxing Organization (WBO) world minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi Friday night, January 6, 2023, at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan.

The 28-year-old Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon native restored the Philippines’ boxing glory by knocking out Taniguchi in the second round, three months after the country’s last remaining world titlist, Jerwin Ancajas, lost the IBF world super flyweight title in October last year to Fernando Martinez.

Jerusalem also proved that Filipinos can win world titles in Japan.

Filipino boxers are known for losing in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” especially in marquee bouts against Japanese up-and-comers and champions.

But not anymore, after Jerusalem knocked out Taniguchi in the second round of their fight.

Many expected the bout to go the distance as both boxers were known for their technical styles.

However, Jerusalem came out with guns blazing after landing power punches in the opening round to introduce himself to Taniguchi.

Not to be outfought, Taniguchi landed his own clean punches, including a powerful left hook that backed Jerusalem against the ropes.

Both boxers ended the first round with decent outing.

In the second round, Taniguchi maintained his pace by throwing jabs and occasionally adding straight punches, without knowing that Jerusalem was already measuring up the exact timing and distance to launch his killing blow.

Jerusalem then stunned Taniguchi with a lightning fast jab-straight combination that knocked the latter down.

Taniguchi tried to stand on his feet but was too dazed with the combo. He was able to stand, but was too wobbly to continue the fight, prompting referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. to end the bout at 1:04 mark of the second round.

Right after Ramirez Jr. stopped the bout, Jerusalem burst into tears and hugged his trainer, Michael Domingo. Jerusalem fell down to his knees as he continued to be emotional for finally becoming a world champion.

DREAM COME TRUE

Jerusalem announced since 2021 that he is very ready to fight for another world title.

He has been ranked top three to five in all of the four major boxing bodies, but no offer came to him.

But Jerusalem remained patient. His first world title shot came in 2017 when he challenged then WBC world minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin in Thailand but came up short.

Jerusalem had to endure another defeat, after his loss to Menayothin, in the hands of fellow Filipino Joey Canoy.

Despite the back-to-back setbacks, the ZIP Sanman banner boxer and former ALA Boxing Gym prospect bounced back with an eight-fight winning streak before his date with Taniguchi.

With the victory, Jerusalem is the third Filipino boxer to earn the WBO world minimumweight title.

His former ALA Boxing Gym stablemates Donnie Nietes and Merlito Sabillo previously held the title.

Jerusalem also improved his record to 20 wins with 12 knockouts and two defeats.

Meanwhile, Taniguchi suffered his fourth pro career loss with 16 wins.

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TAGS: Cebu Daily News, Japan, Melvin “Gringo” Jerusalem, WBO

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