Menayothin overcomes determined Jerusalem to retain strawweight belt
Wanheng Menayothin overcame a determined challenge from young upstart Melvin Jerusalem to eke out a close but unanimous decision to retain his WBC strawweight title Wednesday at Phitsanulok, Thailand.
Two of the official ringside judges turned in scores of 114-113 while the third had it at 115-113 for Menayothin (45-0, 17 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 1-rated 105-pound fighter. If not for a point deduction for Jerusalem (11-1, 7 KOs) for low blows in round eight, the bout would have ended in a majority draw.
Edito Villamor, Jerusalem’s trainer from the ALA Boxing stable, argued that his fighter deserved the decision but says the experience will help him improve as a fighter.
“Only the boxing fans know who won the fight. We need a rematch,” Villamor tells RingTV.com. “We believe that (Jerusalem) will become a better fighter; it’s a good experience.”
Jerusalem, 22, of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, Philippines, controlled the bout in the opening rounds, using his reach and activity to catch the shorter Menayothin, 31, as he came forward. A left hook near the end of round one sent Menayothin into the ropes and the free-swinging second round gave Jerusalem more opportunities in round two, particularly with uppercuts.
Menayothin, from nearby Bangkok, slowed the pace down by the third round, using his high guard to restrict Jerusalem’s openings and breaking up his rhythm with jabs and foot movement. The incumbent titleholder landed a hard right hand coming out of an exchange, which gave Jerusalem something to think about and open scoring revealed that the fight was even, after four rounds, at 38-38.
Experience became Menayothin’s best asset as the rounds progressed, as he closed the distance and pressured Jerusalem, paying off in the sixth as uppercuts and left hooks drove Jerusalem back.
Leading 77-74 on two cards and 78-74 on the third after eight, Menayothin could afford to play it safe for the remainder of the fight, which he did. Menayothin went into a prevent defense for the remainder of the fight, content to take Jerusalem’s blows on his gloves and direct a counterpunch here and there to keep him honest.
The win earns Menayothin his sixth successful title defense.