After clinching world title, Melvin Jerusalem eyes ‘every boxer’s dream’

After clinching world title, Melvin Jerusalem eyes ‘every boxer’s dream’
Melvin Jerusalem lands a huge shot on Yudai Shigeoka. —PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHANMAN BOXING

Once again, Melvin Jerusalem restored boxing glory for the Philippines after capturing the World Boxing Council (WBC) minimumweight title on Easter Sunday.

Jerusalem edged Yudai Shigeoka of Japan via a split decision in Nagoya, Japan, to reclaim his status as a world champion.

“I could already feel that I’m winning. But when you’re inside the ring, you can never be sure,” Jerusalem told media members who welcomed him at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

He added: “[As shown on] those scorecards, it was a split decision. I was ahead by only two points.”

Jerusalem beats opponent
The Filipino drops his Japanese opponent.

The 27-year-old slugger dropped Shigeoka in the third round, and again in the sixth. Judges Barry Lindenman and Jae Bong Kim scored the contest 114-112 in favor of the Filipino. 

Despite overwhelming evidence that Jerusalem deserved nods all across the board, lone dissenter Malcolm Bulner scored the bout 114-113 for Shigeoka.

But as far as Jerusalem and his team are concerned, all that matters is that the belt ended up around his waist at the end of the 12-round showdown.

The champion and his manager, JC Manangquil, head of Sanman Promotions

“Not really shocked. Sometimes, things like this happen in boxing” said JC Manangquil, Jerusalem’s manager and head of Sanman Promotions.

It was deja vu for the fighting pride of Bukidnon, who last year captured the World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight belt against Masataka Taniguchi.

This year, he filled the void that Marlon Tapales left when Tapales dropped his unified super bantamweight straps to Naoya Inoue in December.

Family first

For most Filipinos, the Holy Week is a time to reset mind, body, and soul. But for Jerusalem, it was business as usual.

Being away from the family was tough enough, let alone fighting as the plus-500 underdog in enemy territory. 

“New Year, Christmas, Holy Week … It doesn’t matter,” said Jerusalem. “I’m just thinking about my family and my future.”

Jerusalem’s sacrifices paid off in a big way when he brought home the minimumweight belt along with a fight purse worthy of a champion. For the pugilist, priority No. 1 is completing the construction of the family home in Bukidnon.

“The prize money is not too big, but I have it now,” he said. “I will help my family finally finish building our house.”

According to the champ, construction of the house started in 2023, after he first won a title. But all building activities had since halted due to lack of funds.

Collecting more belts

Melvin Jerusalem wins title
Jerusalem is declared winner of the WBC minimumweight belt.

The Philippines’ lone world champion has no plans of slowing down. For him, the most sensible next move is to add more gold to his collection.

“I really want to get more belts. Unification is my goal because it’s every boxer’s dream to win all four major titles,” Jerusalem said at the latest edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

To achieve that, Jerusalem and his crew are looking at two options. One is a rematch against Oscar Collazo, the heavy-handed Puerto Rican who took his WBO title last year. Alternatively, he could fight Ginjiro Shigeoka, the younger brother of his most recent opponent.

While the two options are both good, getting back at Collazo is the more attractive fight for Jerusalem, who admitted: “I want to avenge that loss because I wasn’t able to defend my title back then.”

Wiser than when he first tried to defend his belt, he believes that he’ll do so much better if and when he crosses paths with Collazo again.

Manangquil is as confident as his stable’s star boxer. Asked who’s next for Jerusalem, he proclaimed: “If Melvin performs like he did in his last fight and as long as he’s 100 percent, it doesn’t matter who he’s fighting next. I think he’s the best at 105, so [we’ll fight] anyone.

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