Milan Melindo won’t let the crown slip from his hands again.
Fighting methodically, Melindo trounced Thai Fahlan Sakkareen Jr. by unanimous decision Saturday night to clinch the International Boxing Federation interim junior featherweight title at Cebu Coliseum in Cebu City.
Melindo, who improved to 35-2 with 12 knockouts, got the nod of the three judges, 117-111 and 115-113 twice, to atone for his bungled title bids against Juan Francisco Estrada in 2013 and Javier Mendoza last year.
With his fine showing in the headliner of Pinoy Pride 39, Melindo will most likely be given a crack at the regular IBF junior featherweight title being held by Japanese Akira Yaegashi next year.
In the main undercard , Jason Pagara stretched his winning run to 13 bouts in a span of five years with a stunning first round knockout of former world champion Jose Alfaro in their 10-round welterweight encounter.
Finding an opening, Pagara, now 40-2 with 25 KOs, landed hard body shots on Alfaro (28-11-1, 24 KOs) in the closing seconds, sending the Nicaraguan down grimacing in pain and unable to beat the count. Time of stoppage was 2:59.
Albert Pagara cleared his comeback trail with a unanimous decision, all by 99-91, over Raymond Commey in a 10-round featherweight tussle.
Though tentative at the start, Albert, still feeling the stigma of a harrowing eighth round knockout loss to Mexican Cesar Juarez last June, went on to dominate Commey and climb to 27-1, 18 KOs.
Prime prospect Kevin Jake Cataraja caught John Kenan Villaflor with a left-right combination to the jaw to win by stoppage 21 seconds left in the first round, and improved to 5-0 with four KOs. —Roy Luarca
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