Back to drawing board
By Joaquin Henson
Sun, 04 Jun 2023
It was a brief four-month reign as WBO minimumweight champion for Bukidnon’s Melvin Jerusalem but after losing the crown in his first defense to Puerto Rico’s Oscar Collazo in California last weekend, the future is far from bleak. Jerusalem, 29, will take a one-month break then return to the gym and work his way back to the throne. His consolation is earning the biggest purse of his career in losing to Collazo with a paycheck the equivalent of P6.3 million.
Jerusalem got off to a hot start then sputtered as his legs stiffened. Unable to move away from Collazo’s strike zone, he became an easy target. At the end of the seventh, Jerusalem surrendered on his stool, his face a picture of exasperation. “’Di ako makagalaw,” he said. “Nawala ang lakas ko. ‘Di ko ininda suntok niya. Sayang ang pagkakataon. Walang problema ang stamina. Nag-training ako one month sa Japan at one month sa Cebu. Nanghina ako pagdating sa US, ‘di ako makatulog.” Jerusalem flew in to Los Angeles less than two weeks before the fight and struggled with jet lag in the ring.
“Wala sa tamang pagiisip,” said Jersulaem's coach and cornerman Michael Domingo. “Nag-give up ang katawan. Apat na oras lang ang tulog niya at nagigising sa gabi. Pagkatapos ng sixth round, sabi ko kay Melvin tigil na at ayaw ko siyang mabugbog at baka madisgrasya. Isa pang round daw. Pagkatapos ng seventh, umayaw na. Tinatamaan sa katawan at dagdag sa paghihina.” Jerusalem said he now faces the toughest challenge of coming back from a disappointing loss. Domingo said he shouldn’t be discouraged and has a long way to go in his boxing journey.
MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said Jerusalem has to be mentally tougher moving forward. “The guy did very well but mentally, it got in his mind he was tired,” said Gibbons. “You’re a champ, you’ve got to bite down and suck it up. I’ve had many, many guys show up two, three, four days before a fight and he had nine. (JohnRiel) Casimero showed up with seven and did tremendous. Everybody’s different but it’s unfortunate. We had real problems with his visa, we had to get an emergency appointment and we got the visa 10 or 11 days before. Melvin was in dog-ass shape but in any sport, if you go in thinking you’re gonna be tired, you couldn’t sleep with no proper rest, you absolutely know what’s going to happen and that’s what happened.” Jerusalem’s promoter JC Manangquil said it’s not the end of the road. “Melvin will be back,” he said. “Give credit to Collazo, he was the better boxer that night. Melvin suddenly slowed down and his body wasn’t cooperating with him. It happens, no excuses.”
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.
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