Underdog champ Melvin Jerusalem fights to present household a greater life

Melvin Jerusalem poses together with his belt after arriving in Los Angeles. Photograph by Jhay Oh Otamias

Melvin Jerusalem could have already gained a world championship, however the 29-year-old from Bukidnon province within the Philippines nonetheless has a number of unfinished enterprise.

Jerusalem (20-2, 12 knockouts) will make the primary protection of the WBO strawweight title this Saturday towards obligatory challenger Oscar Collazo. The venue – Fantasy Springs On line casino in Indio, Calif. – will likely be indoors, however that hasn’t stopped Jerusalem from worrying concerning the rain. Not the rain that might fall on his personal his head, however the rain that always falls over his mom, Miraluna, as she works.

Jerusalem finds motivation in, amongst different issues, making sufficient cash to permit his mom to retire from her job harvesting pineapples on the Del Monte Plantation of their hometown of Manolo Fortich.

“It’s raining day and night time, [but still] she works,” says Jerusalem, who’s rated no. 3 by The Ring at 105 kilos. “I’ll simply give her a enterprise.”

Jerusalem, the third of six kids, remembers the troublesome sacrifices he and his household needed to make. He was simply ten years previous when he was put to work on his his father Bienvenido’s corn farm, digging up land within the mountains to assist the household out. Nonetheless, there have been many nights they went to mattress hungry.

He nonetheless has to return residence to restore their household’s residence, which had fallen into disrepair after his father died seven years in the past.

“I’ve skilled so much,” Jerusalem says.

These targets change into extra attainable if he beats Collazo (6-0, 4 KOs), a southpaw from Villalba, Puerto Rico. Collazo, a 26-year-old southpaw, has been professional for simply three years however was a standout novice, successful gold on the 2019 Pan American Video games in Lima, Peru.

Collazo has moved shortly as knowledgeable, defeating former titleholder Vic Saludar by determination final July earlier than knocking out Yudel Reyes in 5 rounds to change into the obligatory challenger.

“He is an efficient boxer and his model is like an novice. He fights simply in entrance of you however he’s quick. He isn’t a fighter,” stated Jerusalem of Collazo.

Head coach Michael Domingo, who has labored with Jerusalem for 9 years, thinks the matchup is an efficient one stylistically for Jerusalem.

“It’s good for Melvin as a result of the model of Collazo goes inside, Melvin is an out and in boxer. There’s a giant probability for Melvin to win,” stated Domingo, who fought 63 instances professionally earlier than settling into a task as a coach in Cebu Metropolis, Philippines.

Jerusalem had a significant novice profession of his personal. After being launched to the game at age 13 by his older brother and a pal. He had over 100 novice fights, incomes a bronze and a silver on the Philippine Nationwide Video games earlier than turning skilled in 2014. He turned professional in 2014, signing with ALA Promotions, and obtained his first title shot in 2017, giving then-WBC titleholder Wanheng Menayothin one among his hardest fights earlier than shedding a unanimous determination in Thailand. Any momentum from that combat was squandered when he misplaced a choice in his subsequent combat, a listless efficiency towards compatriot Joey Canoy.

“He misplaced to Canoy as a result of he had a variety of issues,” stated Domingo. “Afterwards I talked to him, inspired him to return again stronger. That’s when he targeted in coaching.” Domingo provides that Canoy has been instrumental to Jerusalem’s preparations for this combat, sparring with him to duplicate Collazo’s tendencies.

Since then, Jerusalem has gained 9 straight and signed with ZIP Sanman Boxing, which is comprised of promoter Jim Claude Manangquil of Sanman Promotions and managers Nobuyuki and Mhavic Matsuura.

Along with his new workforce in tow, Jerusalem pulled off his championship win, a second spherical knockout of Masataka Taniguchi, this previous January. A giant underdog heading to Osaka, Japan, Jerusalem dropped Taniguchi with a single proper hand, inflicting Taniguchi to fall thrice earlier than the referee stopped the combat. The win was lauded within the Philippines, because it ended a months-long drought throughout which the nation didn’t have a single world champion.

This Saturday’s combat will likely be Jerusalem’s first in the USA. He arrived within the nation per week in the past, and did some gentle coaching on the Wild Card Fitness center in Hollywood, and will likely be a part of a Golden Boy Promotions present which will likely be streamed stay on DAZN.

“I’m so very completely happy to combat right here in America. It’s a giant alternative for me. It’s my dream to combat right here,” stated Jerusalem.

Regardless of successful the title in his final bout, Jerusalem didn’t get the chance for an optionally available protection, and as an alternative was mandated to face Collazo, who’s promoted by Golden Boy and Miguel Cotto Promotions.

Jerusalem says his objective is to attempt to unify the opposite belts at 105 kilos. The division continues to be led by Knockout CP Freshmart, the unbeaten Thai who has made 11 title defenses since successful the title in 2016. There’s additionally Petchmanee CP Freshmart, one other Thai who holds the WBC belt, and IBF titleholder Daniel Valladares of Mexico.

First, he has to get previous Collazo, who’s rated no. 10 by The Ring at 105 kilos. Jerusalem is as soon as once more preventing towards the chances, with DraftKings itemizing Collazo as a -390 favourite and Jerusalem a +280 underdog.

If he upsets the chances once more, Jerusalem might be in line for giant alternatives.

“There will likely be larger fights forward sooner or later,” stated Manangquil. “He advised us that he needs to combat the opposite champions and accumulate all of the belts after this. It is going to be very massive for him to defend within the U.S. towards a man that Golden Boy is making an attempt to push. I believe that Melvin will defend his title and after that we sit up for unifying all of the belts.”

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