OPBF minimumweight champion Merlito ‘Tiger’ Sabillo will have his first overseas battle and biggest test when he travels to Colombia to face hometown boy Luis dela Rosa for the vacant interim WBO minimumweight title on March 9.
The unbeaten Sabillo (21W-0L, 10 KOs) became Philippine minimumweight champion in 2010 by beating Jetli Purisima by unanimous decision in Bacolod City. He was signed up by ALA Promotions in the first half of 2011.
Sabillo won the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) 105 lb. division title last October 8, 2011 by beating another Filipino, Rodel Tejares by unanimous decision on the undercard of the WBO world light flyweight title bout between Donnie Nietes vs Ramon Garcia Hirales in Bacolod City.
Sabillo defended his title last year by 7th round knockout against Filipino Jonathan Refugio also in Bacolod. Sabillo beat Indonesian Soffyan Effendi by unanimous decision in a non-title bout at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel last January 2012.
ALA Promotions VP Dennis Canete said that Sabillo will be accompanied by Trainer Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo for the fight set at the Coliseo Mario de León in Cerete, Colombia.
Domingo, a former world ranked contender, retired a couple of months ago and is currently overseeing the training of Sabillo. Canete said that while negotiating for the WBO lt.flyweight bout between Donnie Nietes and Moises Fuentes here in Cebu, they took the opportunity to talk to Promoter Tuto Zabala to set up this fight.
Dela Rosa (21W-1L-1D, 12KOs) lost a split decision against Raul Garcia of Mexico in 2010 in his first attempt to win the WBO interim minimumweight title. This remains the only loss in Dela Rosa’s career. He has knocked out three of his last four opponents. /Correspondent Rene Bonsubre Jr