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MARK JASON MELLIGEN

 

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Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

Mark Jason Melligen said he’s suffering from jet lag since arriving in Las Vegas Sunday evening from Cebu City, but that’s the only complaint the welterweight prospect has as he prepares for his biggest test to date against Freddy Hernandez on July 1 at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.

The 10-round clash will headline an ESPN 2 Friday Nights Fights card that will mark Melligen’s first national television showcase in America.

The 25-year-old southpaw Melligen, 21-2 (14 KO), of Bacolod City, Philippines is now in the final phase of his training camp at the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas training under the auspices of former longtime Cebu resident Tony Martin as they prepare for recent world title challenger Hernandez, 32, who has a record of 29-2 (20 KO).

Hernandez holds knock out wins over faded champions Mike Anchondo and DeMarcus Corley, but was knocked out in the first round by then-titlist Andre Berto in his most recent fight.

“I’ve see him fight before,” said Melligen, who defeated 27-1 fighter Gabriel Martinez in February in his most recent fight.

“He’s a talented boxer. He’s strong, powerful and tall.”

With the fight being shown live on one of the most watched boxing programs in America, the fight could be Melligen’s best chance to establish his reputation in the States.

The typically cautious Melligen said he will try to make the most of the opportunity to make an impression with the fans.

“This was one of his setbacks early on, that he was just throwing the jab and left hand,” said head trainer Tony Martin.

“We know he has the potential to do really good. He is becoming better and better, though. I keep telling him it’s important for him to throw more combos and finish his opponents off.

“You have to make people look up and say ‘Wow, he has power.’”

Both Melligen and Martin believe that an entertaining win will lead to a big fight, and Top Rank boss Bob Arum agrees.

“It’s a very important fight because it’s on national TV so a lot of people will be watching that fight,” said Arum, who also promotes Manny Pacquiao.

“He’s fighting a Mexican who has a very good record. All eyes will be on Mark if he wins that fight.”

Arum said, should Melligen win the fight, he may match Melligen up with fellow Top Rank-promoted fighters Kermit Cintron or Mike Jones in the Fall.

Cintron is a hard-punching former welterweight titlist who has faced the best of the division including Antonio Margarito and Sergio Martinez, while Jones is a rising contender who fought on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s fight with Margarito last Fall.

“We think that [beating Hernandez] would be the impetus to move him up to fight the top level,” said Arum.

While Arum cautions that “there’s only one Manny Pacquiao,” he applauds Melligen, saying “he comes to fight” and “I think he’s very entertaining.”

Melligen says he will come to make a statement with Hernandez, but isn’t going to forget the style that has gotten him to this point.

“Every time I fight before, I don’t knock my opponent like that,” said Melligen.

“I’m gonna show everyone who the real Mark is.

“Sometimes I think for a knockout like that, but I’m gonna wait because I’m a pure boxer. I’m always boxing boxing, but I’m always going to wait for the knockout. I think I will pressure this fight, but I’m gonna fight smart.”

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Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City.

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