Former world champ to fight in Japan for OPBF title-fight

DAVAO CITY — Former world boxing champion Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo is now training in La Trinidad, Benguet for his upcoming title-fight against young Japanese Riku Kano on May 8 at the Bunka Center in Sanda, Hyogo, Japan.

The 32-year-old Sabillo, a former World Boxing Organization (WBO) world minimumweight champion, will be fighting the 18-year-old Kano for the interim Orient Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) minimumweight title.

“Mas maganda kasing mag training doon sa Benguet kasi malamig din ang klima tulad sa Japan (It is good to train in Benguet because of its cool climate like in Japan),” said Sabillo’s new manager Brico Santig of the Highland Promotions.boxer.sabillo

Sabillo (25W-2L-1D-12KOs) lost his WBO world title Francisco Rodriguez Jr. by a TKO on March 22, 2014 in Mexico. It was followed by another setback from the hands of Ellias Nggenggo also by a TKO in Cebu City on November 15, 2014.

But after signing up with the Highlands Promotions of international promoter-manager Brico Santig, Sabillo bounced back with two back-to-back wins.

He first outclassed Powell Balaba by a unanimous decision at the L’ Fisher Hotel, La Proa Ballroom in his hometown in Bacolod City in November, 2015.

Sabillo then crushed Jack Amisa also by UD also last year at the La Trinidad Municipal Gymnasium in La Trinidad, Benguet.

Sabillo, however, will be facing a younger and tough Japanese boxer, who is a southpaw.

Kano won all his last seven fights, four of them by knockout. Kano previously won by a first round knockout against Chaichana Sor Por Por of Laos last February 26 in Wat Kokkuod, Surin, Thailand.

“Mag ingat lang siya kasi may pang knockout din ang Hapon na mas bata pa sa kanya (He should take care because the Japanese, who is younger than him, has also a knockout punch,” said Santig.

Sabillo first won the Philippine minimumweight title with a TKO win over Roger Echavez on April 30, 2011 at his hometown in Bacolod. He then captured the OPBF minimumweight crown via a UD over Rodel Tejares on October 8, 2011 also in Bacolod.

He defended it successfully against Jonathan Refugio by a TKO on May 4, 2012 also in Bacolod. Sabillo, formerly under the ALA Promotions in Cebu, then captured the interim WBO world minimumweight crown by an 8th round TKO over Luis de la Rosa last March 9, 2013 in Coliseo Mario de León in Cerete,

He first successfully defended it by a KO over Jorle Estrada on July 13, 2013 at the Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Cebu.

He first defended it by a split draw with Carlos Buitrago at the Araneta Coliseum on November 30, 2013. PNA/