Filipino Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo became the latest fighter to win a world crown after he demolished Colombian Luis de la Rosa in the eighth round yesterday in their showdown for the interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight title at the Coliseo Mario de Leon in Cerete, Cordoba, Colombia.
The Bacolod City-raised, Cebu-based Sabillo (21-0, 11 KOs), fighting out of the ALA Gym and managed by Rev. Henry Guanzon, started strong in the opening round, inflicting a cut on Luis De La Rosa (21-2-1, 12 KOs) with a wicked upper cut that had the local fighter in dire straits.
Sources from Colombia indicated the bout was a give-and-take affair, with neither fighter giving the other a chance to dominate. De La Rosa often rocked Sabillo with strong punches following that cut he suffered in the opening round. Sabillo proved to be a strong and resilient fighter, weathering the onslaught of the Colombian fighter.
A right hook in the eighth round dropped De la Rosa for the count. Although he beat the count, he was in serious trouble, as Sabillo again pounced on the still groggy local fighter and again dropped him with a left straight.
De la Rosa beat the count again, but was visibly disoriented. It was at this point that referee Gino Rodriguez decided he had enough, and the fight was waved off at the 2:58 mark of the eighth round.
“The people gave both fighters a standing ovation,” Sabillo’s trainer Edito Villamor told this writer in an interview after the fight. “In fact, the fans and the mayor of this place want Sabillo to come back to fight here again.” Sabillo was also accompanied by Michael Domingo.
This world title is more than icing on the cake for the Bacolod City boxer, who signed with ALA Promotions two years ago.