Displaying the true heart of a warrior, a bloodied Milan Melindo squeezed out a split decision win over Hekkie Budler to retain the IBF junior flyweight title in the main event of “Pinoy Pride 42” at Waterfront Hotel and Casino on Saturday.
In a barn burner, “El Metodico” gallantly saw the match through despite cuts near both eyes that were caused by accidental headbutts with the quick and durable South African.
The two boxers traded blow after blow right from the opening bell with Budler trying to outpace the champion with his swarming style of fighting.
However, Melindo was able to land the cleaner punches by timing the South African with right straight-left hook combos to the head and the body.
In the 6th round, an accidental clash of heads opened a nasty cut near the left eye of Melindo. Despite blood streaming down his face, the Filipino champion was still able to score big right-hand leads to Budler’s head.
Following a crisp uppercut that momentarily rattled Budler in the 10th, another accidental headbutt cut Melindo this time near the right eye.
In the 12th round, Melindo got some measure of revenge by clipping the South African with a short left to the jaw. Budler went down, but immediately stood up and engaged the Filipino in a brawl.
Melindo obliged and they battled it out to a wild and thrilling finish.
In the end, two of the judges saw it 117-110 and 115-112 in favor of Melindo, while the other judge scored it 115-113 for Budler.
It was a sweet victory for Melindo who struggled to make weight during Friday’s weigh-in.
Budler, a former WBA minimumweight champion and current IBO junior flyweight title holder, suffered his 3rd career loss in 34 fights.
Melindo improved his record to 37 wins against 2 defeats.