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Wanheng Menayothin to defend WBC strawweight title against Melvin Jerusalem

Strawweight contender Melvin Jerusalem (right) lands a right hand to the jaw of Florante Condes in February of 2016. Photo by Arvee Eco.

MANILA, Philippines – Thailand’s Wanheng Menayothin will make the sixth defense of his WBC strawweight title when he faces unbeaten Filipino Melvin Jerusalem on Jan. 25 at Phitsanuloke Province in Thailand.

Jerusalem (11-0, 7 knockouts) of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, Philippines has only been a pro for just over two years and has faced relatively light competition, outside of a majority decision win over faded former IBF titleholder Florante Condes last year. The Menayothin fight will be Jerusalem’s first scheduled 12-rounder.

Menayothin (44-0, 17 KOs), THE RING’s No. 1-rated 105-pounder, has been a champion for almost as long as Jerusalem has been a pro, winning the title in November of 2014 with a ninth round stoppage of Oswaldo Novoa and making five defenses of the title, including wins over Filipinos Jerry Tomogdan and Jeffrey Galero.

“It’s not going to be an easy fight for Melvin because he hasn’t been able to have fights that have really tested him,” said Michael Aldeguer, president of ALA Promotions, which represents Jerusalem.

“There’s no expectations but what’s important is that this is something big for him. If he wins, that will be great but if he puts up a good fight and makes a good account of himself, that would be a boost for his career.”

Jerusalem, who is nine years younger than Menayothin, at 22, is training at the ALA Boxing Gym in Cebu City, Philippines under former pro Michael Domingo. ALA head trainer Edito Villamor acknowledges Jerusalem faces steep odds against Menayothin but says he sees Jerusalem doing everything to give himself the best possible chance.

“It’s a 50/50 chance but Jerusalem, he trains hard for this fight: No holidays, no vacations during Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” said Villamor.

“He is determined to win this fight. I can see his eyes during his training with Michael Domingo.”

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