Thursday, September 21, 2023  |



Edward Heno outpoints Merlito Sabillo in Philippine crossroads fight

Edward Heno. Photo by Ryan Songalia
Fighters Network

Edward Heno scored the biggest win of his young career Saturday, defeating former world titleholder Merlito Sabillo by split decision to retain his OPBF junior flyweight belt at Gaisano City Mall in Bacolod City, Philippines.

Two judges had it for Heno (12-0, 5 knockouts) by scores of 118-110 and 119-109, while the third scored it 116-112 for the local fighter Sabillo (27-5-1, 13 KOs), who had previously held the WBO strawweight title.

Heno, 25, of San Pedro, Laguna, Philippines, relied on his boxing and movement against the ultra-aggressive Sabillo, 34, using his right jab to keep the challenger off of him and landing well to the body in the first round. Sabillo brought the crowd into the fight in the fifth as he pinned Heno to the ropes and teed off with his own combinations.

“Heno was able to put up a masterful boxing performance against a former champion in enemy territory. At least two out of three judges got the score right while the other one must have been watching a different fight,” said Anson Tiu Co, the promoter of Heno.

Scenes like that were few and far between as Heno worked off his jab and moved effectively to set up counterpunch opportunities.

Heno officially weighed in at 103 pounds and Sabillo at 106, well below the 108-pound limit, which Tiu Co suspects is due to a “faulty” scale. Afterwards, Tiu Co said he was pleased with his fighter’s development under trainers Warren Jaro and Jeffrey Cerna.

“I know now in spite of his quiet demeanor, he is listening to what is being taught to him. And he also quietly accepts criticism of his lack of skills before,” said Tiu Co.

The win comes on the heels of Heno’s seventh-round stoppage win over Seita Ogido in Japan last September, after which he was stripped of the OPBF belt after being asked by the WBC-affiliated regional sanctioning body to defend the title 60 days after winning the belt. He was reinstated shortly after following the fallout of the fight designated to fill the vacancy.

Earlier in the night Rey Loreto (24-14, 15 KOs) bounced back from his loss to WBA strawweight titleholder Knockout CP Freshmart with a sixth round stoppage of Arnold Garde (8-6-3, 3 KOs), the event’s promoter Brico Santig says, adding that Loreto scored five knockdowns in the eight-round scheduled fight.