Holiday sacrifice for Milan Melindo ahead of world unification fight on New Year's Eve
Milan Melindo raises his hand after retaining his IBF light-flyweight crown against Hekkie Budler.

THERE will be no holiday binge for reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) light-flyweight champion Milan Melindo as he’s set for a unification match with World Boxing Association (WBA) counterpart Ryoichi Taguchi on New Year’s eve in Tokyo, Japan.

The 29-year-old Melindo has been keeping his food intake and merrymaking in check as he aims to be in perfect shape for his Dec. 31 bout against his Japanese foe at the Ota City General Stadium.

The final day of every year is a holiday in Japan, which the country usually celebrates with its traditional Japanese fight night on New Year’s eve.

For Melindo, it’s definitely a brand-new experience of sacrificing during the holiday season and being away from his family at the turn of the year.

“Kailangan talaga mag sakripisyo sir,” said lead trainer Edito ‘Ala’ Villamor in a message sent to SPIN.ph. “Pero okay lang, ang importante manalo tayo sa laban.”

“Doon na lang kami mag New Year sir.”

Melindo (37-2-0, 13KOs) is now toning down from almost a three-month training that began shortly after he retained his title with a split decision win over two-time world division champion Hekkie Budler in Cebu City last September.

“October nagsimula na kami ng conditioning training and skills training,” said Villamor, a former world title challenger himself. “By November nag-sparring na kami. Kaya halos full three months kami in training.”

The camp of the Filipino champ is certainly not taking chances against Taguchi (26-2-2, 12 KOs).

The Japanese has been WBA title holder since 2014 and has defended his title sixth times, five of them he won while being held to a draw by undefeated Venezuelan Carlos Canizales.

Taguchi is also undefeated since 2013.

“Magandang laban ito, pero sanay na si Milan na lumaban sa labas ng Pilipinas,” said Villamor, noting how the pride of ALA Promotions destroyed Japanese Akira Yaegashi in just a single round last May to win the IBF championship.

As any consolation, Melindo and his team will still get to spend Christmas Day in the country as they are set to leave for the Japanese capital on Dec. 26.

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