With new leadership in the Games and Amusement Board, professional boxing in the Philippines is set for a big bounce-back year after the COVID-19 pandemic rendered the sport paralyzed for almost three years.
Leading the way is the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation, one of the country’s oldest boxing organizations.
“OPBF Philippines is targeting an output of 15 championship belts (mixed of red, silver, and youth) to try to break its own record in total fights and hopefully re-capture the WBC Regional Federation of the Year for 2023 for OPBF again,” said OPBF Philippines supervisor Arnie Najera.
That’s great news for Filipino fighters aiming for big-ticket fights abroad.
The OPBF has also opened new opportunities for come-backing Filipino boxers.
Former world champion Milan Melindo fought for the OPBF silver featherweight championship on Wednesday night in Cebu, winning the belt via a unanimous decision against WBC Asia champion Chaiwat Buatkrathok of Thailand.
Melindo, who used to be with the fabled ALA Boxing Promotion before it folded, held the International Boxing Federation and the International Boxing Organization light-flyweight titles.
He last fought in March last year, beating Crison Omayao in a non-title bout.
Against the more formidable Thai, Melindo proved worthy of his “El Metodico” tag with his systematic boxing to gain a score of 98-92 from two judges and 97-93 in their 10-round bout at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Newly appointed GAB chairman Richard Clarin graced the event and liked what he saw.
“We should have more fights like these to bring back the sports of boxing to the limelight again,” he said in a speech after the bout.