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After Holy Week sacrifice, Melvin Jerusalem finally gets 'dream belt'

Melvin Jerusalem returns home after finally winning his "dream belt". Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—It was an unusual Holy Week for Melvin Jerusalem.

The 30-year-old pugilist should have been spending a much-needed break from his boxing career with his family in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, or maybe at least received his Boxer of the Year award personally during the Pacquiao-Elorde Awards Night on Palm Sunday at the Okada Manila Grand Ballroom in Paranaque.

Instead, Jerusalem was in Nagoya at the tail end of his training camp for his Easter Sunday bout against Yudai Shigeoka with the WBC minimumweight title on the line.

"Ganito talaga yung buhay boksingero. Kahit New Year, Pasko, Holy Week, kahit malayo sa pamilya, isipin na lang na para sa pamilya ito, para sa future, kaya pagsikapan na lang talaga," Jerusalem said on Monday upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 here.

The showdown between Jerusalem and Shigeoka was a tough grind that virtually went down the wire with the three judges, Malcolm Bulner, Kim Jae-Bong, and Barry Linderman, giving close scores when their scorecards were revealed.

Bulner even scored a "swing round", that is, he gave both Jerusalem and Shigeoka 10-10 in one round, based on his card.

"Alam namin na yung Shigeoka Brothers ay napakatibay na boxers, lalo na ang mga Hapon kasi prime nila ngayon," Jerusalem further said, also alluding to Shigeoka's brother Ginjiro, who fought another Filipino, Jake Amparo, for the IBF title belt in the 105-pound division.

"Habang nasa ring pa, 'di pa natin alam yung [resulta] ng laban kasi baka last round, matamaan pa tayo, kaya walang kumpyansa pa rin."

Bulner had the bout 114-113 for Yudai Shigeoka, but both Kim and Linderman scored it 114-112 for Jerusalem, who is now the new WBC 105-pound champ.

Two knockdowns in Rounds 3 and 6 essentially decided the outcome.

Jerusalem said he does not mind the split decision.

"Ang importante, panalo tayo," Jerusalem further said.

The win was a fulfillment of what he wanted to bring home seven years in the making.

"Dream belt ko ito," Jerusalem further said, adding that the dream-come-true moment came seven years in the making.

Jerusalem first vied for the WBC belt in 2017 but lost to Thai opponent Chayaphon Moonsri via unanimous decision, which happened to be Jerusalem's first career defeat after an 11-0 start.

Now that he finally won his dream belt, Jerusalem said that he can now return to Manolo Fortich to finally get his belated Lenten rest.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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