Jerusalem earns title shot vs. WBO champ Taniguchi

AFTER a patient wait, Melvin Jerusalem finally earns his second world title shot as he challenges World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight champion Masataka Taniguchi on Jan. 6, 2023, at the Edion Arena in Osaka, Japan.

“This is the second opportunity to fight for a world title again that I have long been asking for. I think this will finally be the one,” Jerusalem told SunStar Cebu. “I won’t promise a knockout, but I’ll do my best to get it.”

Jerusalem has been ranked highly in the minimumweight division for quite some time now and finally earned his world title shot. He’s ranked No. 2 by the WBO, No. 3 by the World Boxing Council (WBC), No. 4 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and No. 5 by the World Boxing Association (WBA).

“This will be a hard fight for Melvin, but I think we have a huge chance of winning,” said Jerusalem’s coach Michael Domingo.

The 28-year-old Jerusalem challenged then-WBC minimumweight king Wanheng Menayothin for a world championship in Thailand in 2017. He put on a gallant performance but lost to Menayothin via a close unanimous decision.

“They are both very good boxers,” said Jerusalem, comparing Taniguchi and Menayothin. “But this time I’ll be coming in this fight as the better boxer. I will do my best to win this. I believe I have improved my power because of the hard work that coach Mike and I have put in our training.”

Taniguchi won the WBO minimumweight belt after dethroning Wilfredo Mendez via an 11th-round technical knockout last year. He successfully defended his belt also with an 11th-round stoppage of Kai Ishizawa.

“I believe he has very good timing but he’s not fast and I think will have a hard time catching Melvin,” said Domingo of Taniguchi. “We need to watch out for his straight and right hook.”

Jerusalem is 19-2 with 11 knockouts, while Taniguchi is 16-3 with 11 knockouts.