MELVIN JERUSALEM arrived in Cebu City on Sunday morning beaming with pride as he held in his hands the World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimum weight belt he won in Osaka two days ago.
“It’s like a dream up to now. I never expected myself to be a world champion, but it’s true, yes it’s true…I’m a world champion now,” the 28-year-old Jerusalem told BusinessMirror.
Jerusalem booked a second-round technical knockout victory to grab the title from Japanese Masataka Taniguchi before a jampacked crowd at the Edion Arena in Osaka.
The fighter from Bukidnon is the Philippines’ only world champion to date after Mark Magsayo lost his World Boxing Council (WBC) featherweight title last July 10 to Rex Vargas of Mexico in San Antonio, Texas.
“Taniguchi’s an elite fighter that’s why I worked hard for the fight,” said Jerusalem, who improved his win-loss record to 20-2 with 12 knockouts.
Jerusalem, son of Miraluna, an employee at the Del Monte Pineapple Farm in Bukidnon, vowed to go after the WBC, International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association. crowns.
“My focus is to protect this belt and, of course, I want to unify the other world titles,” he said. “I will just wait for opportunities, but I have to enjoy and savor this first.”
Jerusalem fights under JC Mananquil’s Sanman Promotions and managed by Noboyuki Matsuura. He thanked his trainer and coach Michael Domingo for helping him sharpen his skills and achieve world-class status.
He had his first world title shot in January 2017 in Thailand but lost via unanimous decision to then reigning WBC king Chayaphon Moonsri.
“I worked so hard believing an opportunity would come after I lost that fight. It was very sweet that it just came now,” he said.