Jerusalem gets new WBO belt; wants to unify four major world titles
CEBU CITY, Philippines— With a newly-made World Boxing Organization (WBO) world minimumweight belt on his waist, Melvin “Gringo” Jerusalem eyes to become the undisputed world minimumweight champion in the future.
Jerusalem who dethroned erstwhile champion Masataka Taniguchi last January 6 via a second round technical knockout in Osaka, Japan received a brand-new WBO world minimumweight belt from no less than WBO Asia Pacific president Leon Panoncillo.
The official turnover was held on Tuesday evening, January 17, 2023, in a hotel in Cebu City. Joining Jerusalem during the ceremony was his promoter, JC Manangquil of Sanman Boxing Promotions, and his managers, Marivic and Nobuyuki Matsuura of ZIP Sanman Boxing Promotions.
For Jerusalem, he wants to reign long as champion in the minimumweight division and ultimately unify all four major world titles.
“WBA akong target nga gusto makuha sunod. Gusto nako makontra si Niyomtrong (Thammanoon). Lig-on siya nga kontra pero paningkamontan nato kay gulang-gulang na sad ta, atong testingan,” said Jerusalem who hails from Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
“Sugod nako ug balik ug training ginagmay. Among plano ni coach Michael mo training ug sayo, pero depende na nilang mam Marivic ug asa mi mag training diri ba sa Cebu or sa Japan. Mura ug April or May siguro akong title defense sa Japan, pero dili pa final.”
However, Jerusalem’s plans might change in the coming months as the top-ranked contender Oscar Collazo of Puerto Rico will face fellow countryman Yudel Reyes in a title eliminator for the WBO belt this month in the United States.
Nonetheless, Jerusalem’s goals are all set as he revealed that he is ready for any challengers that come his way.
TITLE DEFENSE ABROAD
Marivic Matsuura said that after their prized boxer’s stellar performance in Osaka, Japan, they already received countless offers for title defenses, but they haven’t chosen one yet.
“Maraming offers kay Melvin, pero pinag iisipan po namin. Maybe we will announce it once nakapag decide po kami. No rematch yet, but there are already offers,” said Matsuura.
For Manangquil, they are looking at two title defenses for Jerusalem before the latter can pursue the other world titles in the WBA, WBC, and IBF.
“Basin two fights pa siguro before sa uban belts, naay mga mandatory obligations ang mga champions ani nga division. I think very soon if naay available, so why not, pero after second defense na,” said Manangquil of General Santos City.
Mananquil added that if Collazo wins the title eliminator, Jerusalem’s mandatory title defense would likely happen in the United States since the former is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions which is financially capable of hosting world title bouts.
Panoncillo revealed that the world title belt he delivered to Jerusalem here in Cebu was the second of its kind made in Asia, particularly for Asian world champions.
Panoncillo said that the belt was the first one he delivered to a champion in 2023, making it a special occasion for him and for Jerusalem.
“This belt is the second belt in Asia that we have had it over. The first was approved in the last WBO convention. This is a very special belt, it’s the first belt the WBO to present in 2023 to a world champion,” said Panoncillo.
Amidst grand plans and limelight, Jerusalem remained humble and credited everyone who supported him in his journey of becoming a world champion.
“Dugay nako nga ranked sa world, na discouraged ko usahay kay wala jud offers ni abot. Pero ako jud gi huna-huna nga ang uban diha mao pa gyud pag sugod sa boxing, ako kay pahimutang na. So, wala koy angay nga mo quit. Pirmi sad ko gi encourage ni coach Mike (Domingo) nga mag pa abot lang ta. Hangtod karon, wala nako damha nga ma world champion ko. Dako kaayo ko ug pasalamat sa tanan ni suporta nako gikan sa sugod,” Jerusalem concluded.
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