Melvin Jerusalem opened the boxing season for the Philippines by winning the WBO global minimumweight championship on January 6 in Osaka, Japan.
Better and wiser than when he first fought for a world title six years ago, Jerusalem stopped Japanese champion Masataka Taniguchi with a vicious straight right to the face in the second round at the Edion Arena.
Taniguchi fell on his back and attempted to get up, but fell on his head before he was able to stand on unsteady legs on his second effort.
The referee deemed him unsuitable to continue due to his glassy eyes and erratic demeanor, leaving Jerusalem as the sole reigning Filipino world champion.
It was Jerusalem’s eighth consecutive victory, bringing his record to 20-2 with 12 knockouts. His record fell to 16-4 with 11 knockouts.
The 28-year-old Jerusalem was joined by trainer Michael Domingo and Sanman Promotions CEO JC Mananquil.
Jerusalem had a shot at the World Boxing Council minimal weight championship in 2017, but lost by unanimous decision against Thai boxer Wanheng Menayothin.
Given a second opportunity, the pride of Bukidnon gave it his all and ended the Philippines’ wait for another world champion.
Jerusalem, who weighed in at 103 pounds during Thursday’s official weigh-in, followed in the footsteps of fellow countrymen Merlito Sabillo, who held the WBO 105-pound title in 2013, and Donnie Nietes, who ruled from 2007 to 2010 before moving up to light flyweight.
“This triumph is for my family and the Philippines,” said Jerusalem. “This message also extends to my Zip-Sanman team. Obviously, I am grateful to Michael Domingo, my coach, who worked tirelessly with me during training camp. I will continue to exercise intensely after this.”