ONE-TIME world title challenger Melvin Jerusalem is willing to do just about everything to reach his dream of becoming a world champion, even if it means fighting a fellow Filipino.
“I’m okay with anything,” Jerusalem told SunStar Cebu. “I’m not bothered by that (fighting a fellow Filipino), because for me, it’s just a sport. It has always been my dream to become a world champion.”
The 26-year-old Jerusalem is ranked highly in three of the four major boxing governing bodies. He’s rated No. 1 in the World Boxing Council (WBC), No. 4 in the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and No. 5 in the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
With his lofty rankings, Jerusalem has a lot of options. But because of the international travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, his most plausible option right now is fighting fellow Filipino Pedro Taduran, who currently holds the IBF minimumweight belt.
In order to get a shot at Taduran, he either gets chosen as an opponent for a voluntary title defense or fight for the mandatory spot in a title eliminator.
If ordered by the IBF for a title eliminator, Jerusalem could face fellow Filipino Rene Mark Cuarto, who’s currently rated No. 3 in the IBF. Usually the IBF leaves the No. 1 and No. 2 spots open for a title eliminator between the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked fighters, wherein the winner gets mandatory challenger status.
“I will do my best if given the chance to fight him (Taduran),” said Jerusalem, who has a record of 15-2 with nine knockouts.
Taduran, who spent half a year in his native Albay, is reportedly heading back to Metro Manila to prepare for the return of boxing to the Philippines.
Boxing is one of the sports that have been cleared by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to resume but under strict guidelines.
Jerusalem was very close to achieving his dream of becoming a world champion in 2017. He challenged longtime WBC minimumweight king Wanheng Menayothin and lost by a close unanimous decision.
Even though Menayothin is now being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions in the US, Jerusalem still hopes to get his promised rematch.
“I really want to fight for the WBC belt but I’ll fight whoever wants to fight me,” he said. “I had a chat with Wanheng and I thanked him that he’s willing to give me another shot. I won’t waste that opportunity.”