ERNESTO Saulong primes himself for the big time as he vies for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) junior bantamweight crown against reigning champion Ryosukie Iwasa in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday.
The 28-year-old Filipino is a huge underdog in the 12-round fight at the Ryogoku Kokugikan in the heart of Tokyo, but is confident he’ll beat the odds and join stablemate Jerwin Ancajas as the country’s newest world champion.
Saulong tipped the scales at 121.5 lbs. in Wednesday’s official weigh-in, while Iwasa tipped in at 121-3/4 lbs.
“Malaking pag asa po kasi kundisyon po si Saulong at tiwalang-tiwala kami,” said trainer Joven Jimenez in a correspondence from Japan.
“Subok pong matapang ito, kaya handing-handa po kami.”
It won’t be a walk in the park for Saulong (21-2-1, 8 KOs), a native of Mindoro Occidental.
Iwasa, 28, won his last four fights by way of knockout, including a sixth round TKO win over compatriot Yukinori Oguni last September to win the IBF title belt.
The Japanese champion sports a 24-2 record with 16 KOs.