“Super sweet po talaga, masarap sa pakiramdam, sa lahat ng sakripisyo,”
After coming up short in his second chance at a world championship, it was easy to count Milan Melindo out.
Losing to Javier Mendoza in what many called a ‘forgettable’ effort in 2015, it looked as if Melindo’s chances at world championship glory was quickly fading.
While it was only his second career loss, the question was could he peform at a championship level.
Still, Melindo kept fighting.
After his loss to Mendoza, Melindo scored back-to-back wins against Victor Emannuel Olivo and Maximino Flores and eventually found himself climbing back up the rankings. Late in 2016, Melindo found himself on track once again for a world championship after outpointing tough Thai challenger Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. for the interim IBF crown.
For a third time, Melindo was slated to challenge for a world title.
And as they say, third time’s the charm. Melindo blasted through then-reigning IBF Light Flyweight world champion Akira Yaegashi in under a round to finally capture world championship gold.
It could easily have been strike three for Melindo. Instead, it became his career apex.
For the 29-year old, it didn’t really matter to him that it was being considered a make-or-break match.
“It wasn’t a big deal for me, kasi it’s being a warrior. Mayroong talo, mayroong panalo.” said Melindo. For him, it was a matter of timing, and he felt that he was right in his ‘timezone’, so to say.
“Yung nasa isip ko, mayroon tayong tinatawag na ‘timezone’, mayroon tayong timezone, may oras, yung time na para sayo talaga, yung binigay sa’yo ng Panginoon. Nasa sayo ‘yun pag hindi ka titigil. Yung iba kasi, pag natatalo, nadidiscourage na, tumitigil na sa pag-boxing, tumitigil na sa mga laro, hindi na sila makakaabot sa timezone nila.”
So what was it that kept him from getting discouraged? Melindo credits the people around him for keeping him motivated to keep fighting.
“Yung mga taong ginagamit ni God as an instrument para tulungan ako na makabangon.”
“Hindi lahat ng tao makakabangon kasi pinapasok nila sa dibdib nila, sa ulo nila yung masasakit na salita ng mga nasa paligid nila, mga nakapaligid sa kanila.” Melindo added.
Currently, Melindo is only one of four Filipino male world champions, joining Manny Pacquiao, Donnie Nietes, and Jerwin Ancajas.
“Super sweet po talaga, masarap sa pakiramdam, sa lahat ng sakripisyo,” Melindo said. “Hindi naman talaga lahat ng tao nakakaalam kung anong sakripisyo ang ginagawa ng isang boksingero bago lumaban.”
Once considered an afterthought in Pinoy boxing, Milan Melindo now sits on top of the totem pole in his division. While he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor, he keeps at the back of his mind, all the times that he’s fallen and all the times that he’s been counted out. After all, it’s those setbacks and sour words that have fuelled him to glory.
“Lahat ng pinagdaanan ko, lahat ng laban ko, nagtipon-tipon lahat, yung experience, yung wisdom na nakukuha ko sa mga laban ko tsaka mga advice ng mga tao, lahat ng mga discouragement, napapasok sa akin lahat, parang nabuo ako.”
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