With cuts in both eyes and unable to see in one, Milan Melindo soldiered on to beat a game Hekki Budler to keep his IBF junior flyweight crown in the main event of Pinoy Pride 42 at the Watefront Hotel and Casino.
Melindo, who admitted in the post-fight press con that he had blurry vision in one eye due to the blood oozing from a cut, won on two judges’ scorecards, 117-110 and 115-112, while the third judge had it 115-113 for the South African.
Melindo improved to 37-2 with 13 KOs, while Budler dropped to 31-2.
In the undercard, a lackluster Jason Pagara earned a split draw with late-replacement James Onyango. Pagara, who looked sluggish and was back-pedaling in the latter rounds, is now 40-2-1, while Onyango is now 23-11-1.
Pagara scored two knockdowns early in the fight but in the latter rounds, it was the Kenyan who had Pagara’s number, making the ALA fighter look slow as he connected at will.
One judge saw it 114-113 for Onyango, while another had it 115-113 for Pagara. The third judge saw it an even 114-114.
On the other hand, Zorro Sultan scored the biggest win of the night, beating two-time champion Joehn Reil Casimero by majority decision in their IBF junior bantamweight eliminator. Sultan controlled the fight from the fourth round as Casimero resorted to looking for a one-punch knockout win.
Sultan won 117-111, 116-112, 115-113, to improve to 13-3, while Casimero dropped to 24-3.
“The instruction of the corner wasn’t followed and he reverted to his old self of looking for a one-punch knockout,” said Casimero’s manager Sammy Gello-ani. “But this could be a blessing in disguise also for Casimero because all of the champions are avoiding him.”
With the win, Sultan will now become the mandatory challenger of IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas.
More photos of Pinoy Pride 42 (all photos by Albert Flores)