THE last time he was in a world title fight, Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo had the misfortune of going up against one of the most skilled fighters in the lower weight divisions. Still, Melindo put up a credible performance before running out of steam and dropping a decision to WBA/WBO flyweight (112 pounds) champion Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico in July 2013.
Melindo, 32-1 with 12 knockouts, is booked to get his second world title shot this weekend when he faces IBF light flyweight (108 pounds) champion Javier ‘Cobra’ Mendoza of Mexico in a 12-round match set at the champ’s hometown of Baja, California. Mendoza, 23-2, 1 (draw) with 19 knockouts, is far from being as talented as Estrada but he nonetheless carries a mean left straight that has toppled nine of his last 10 adversaries.
Nicknamed ‘Cobra,’ Mendoza turned pro in 2007 and won four of his first five fights, with one bout ending in a draw. He tasted his first defeat in July 2008, when he dropped a decision to then pro debutante Manuel Jimenez. Mendoza rebounded by winning his next nine fights before he ran into trouble against Mexican journeyman Jorge Guerrero in July 2011. An overconfident Mendoza kissed the canvas twice and was stopped by Guerrero in two rounds.
Mendoza has since racked up 10 straight victories, nine via the short route. He won the IBF light flyweight diadem in September 2014 with a unanimous decision over countryman Ramon Hirales. He returned to the ring last January, shaking off some ring rust in a two-round, non-title drubbing of Colombian Mauricio Fuentes. Mendoza is making his initial defense of the title against Melindo.
The 24-year-old Mendoza tends to plod inside the ring and is a tad slow when it comes to putting his punches together. He loves to work his way inside behind a double right-jab/left straight combination. He tends to throw his left hand in telegraph fashion, making him susceptible to a counterpunch. To his credit, the IBF champion is a great finisher and his left straight packs legit power.
When in a groove, Melindo is a very good counterpuncher and his double-left hook is a sight to behold. He showed flashes of brilliance against Estrada before fading in the homestretch. Melindo has won three straight fights since losing to Estrada, but his conditioning was suspect in all those fights. He nearly faded again in escaping with a majority decision win against Martin Tecuapetla in May 2014.
For the title setto against against Mendoza, Melindo is returning to the 108-pound division where he has never tasted defeat and held several regional belts.
“Sa 112 pounds kasi medyo bumagal ang galaw ko at feel ko dun,” Melindo told this writer. “Sa 108 naman medyo dito 'yung bilis ko. Yung nagco-coordinate yung katawan ko sa bawat kilos na gagawin ko.”
Melindo ardently believes that he had the ideal blueprint against Estrada. He intends to employ the same strategy against Mendoza, only this time he is bent on going the full route if necessary.
“Wala po akong babaguhin sa istilo ko,” said Melindo. “I know panalo ako sa laban na 'yun (vs. Estrada). Sa laban na ito (vs. Mendoza), I will prove na ako ang dapat nanalo kay Estrada. I will prove it sa bawat round.”