WBO strawweight titleholder Merlito Sabillo (L) with junior bantamweight Arthur Villanueva (Photo by Ryan Songalia).
MANILA – Merlito Sabillo had to travel halfway around the globe to win the WBO strawweight title in Colombia, but he’ll get to make his first defense in his hometown.
Sabillo (21-0, 11 knockouts) will fight at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in Bacolod City, Philippines, on June 29 against an opponent to be named. ALA Promotions vice president Dennis Canete tells RingTV.com that they’re eyeing Jorle Estrada (16-6, 5 KOs) of Colombia, who is rated No. 6 by the WBO at 105 pounds, but that nothing has been finalized.
“We didn’t communicate yet because it’s not yet sanctioned,” said Canete.
In the co-featured bout, fellow Bacolod City resident Arthur Villanueva (21-0, 11 KOs) will face an opponent to be named. Villanueva, 23, is rated No. 10 by THE RING at 115 pounds and is coming off his career-best victory, a unanimous decision over previously-unbeaten countryman Marco Demecillo last month.
Sabillo, who won the interim title in March by knocking out Luis De La Rosa in eight rounds and was bumped up to full championship status when Moises Fuentes moved up to 108 pounds, is currently rated No. 10 by THE RING at strawweight.
During a training session at the San Juan location of Elorde Boxing Gym, the 29-year-old Sabillo said that he spent his title-winning purse on paying off his parents’ debts, and will use the purse from his first defense to start a business.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.