FORMER world champion Merlito Sabillo got sidetracked anew in his bid to make it back on top after losing by split decision to Edward Heno in their OPBF (Orient Pacific Boxing Federation) junior flyweight title match over the weekend at the Gaisano City Mall in Bacolod.
Heno won in the two judges’ scorecards, 118-110, 119-109, to retain the crown he won over Japanese Seita Ogido in September of last year. Sabillo got the nod of the other judge, 116-112.
The 25-year-old Heno, a native of Baguio City, kept his perfect record at 12-0, including five KOs, as he scored easily the biggest win of his career so far.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Sabillo, 34, who disappointed the hometown crowd that showed up to support the former ALA boxing protégé from the town of Toboso, Negros Occidental.
Sabillo once reigned as World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight champion when he stunned Colombian Luis dela Rosa with an eighth round TKO win in March 2013.
He subsequently defended the crown twice before relinquishing it following a 10th-round TKO loss to Jose Francisco Rodriguez a year later.
The former world champion was never the same after that.
The loss to Heno marked the third time Sabillo failed to win an OPBF title belt, the two previous setbacks coming at the hands of Japanese Riku Kano and Ryuya Yamanaka.
His record stands at 27-5-1, with 13 KOs.