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He's Focused, Man: Melligen Looking for the KO July 3

He's Focused, Man: Melligen Looking for the KO July 3


Every boxer emerging from the Philippines must necessarily fight in the shadow of Manny Pacquiao. The pound-for-pound king may loom large in the sport itself, but in his home country he's as incomprehensibly huge for outsiders as "infinity" is for non-mathematicians. For those keeping score at home, that's BIG.

Welterweight Mark Melligen knows this all too well. The native of Bacolod City, the sugar-rich capitol of the province of Negros Occidental, gets why people sometimes think all Filipino fighters are Pacquiao. "I understand why people think like that, because Pacquiao is famous, right? But that's OK," he says.

"We're not the same as Pacquiao. I'm different than Pacquiao. I'm Mark," he adds, laughing.

While Melligen understandably wants to be his own man, he has learned at least one crucial lesson from his legendary countryman. "He entertains the people," he says. "That's why every time I fight, I make [it] entertaining. That's very important. If you want to win only--no good."

Losing is of course no good, either. And since Melligen's split-decision loss to Michel Rosales in November 2009--which came after Melligen's friend, Z Gorres, was hospitalized following his own fight; "I'm upset that I lost that fight," Melligen says--the up-and-coming slugger has filed dominating performances against his last two opponents. Early in 2010, Melligen TKO'd Roman Gattica in the sixth round. Then, in April, he routed Norberto Gonzalez, winning a unanimous decision in a bout that ESPN's Dan Rafael labeled "a surprisingly one-sided fight."

Melligen hopes to ride the momentum into another win this Saturday, July 3, when he takes on New Yorker Anges Adjaho in Reno. Though Melligen trained for the fight in the Philippines, it wasn't until he landed in Las Vegas for the last leg of his preparations that he was able to spar with similarly sized fighters.

He says: "In Philippines, I didn't have a sparring partner, but here, in Vegas, the people are big. In Philippines, I'm the only one who's big. Here, [there are] more big boxer[s]. I have more sparring partners."

Another important partner in Melligen's boxing life: His father, the man who convinced him to don gloves in the first place. Melligen loved playing basketball, but his father regularly cajoled him about training to be a fighter. "He [got] angry every day like that. That's why I'm a boxer: because I'm afraid of my father," Melligen says, laughing again.

Melligen says his game-plan against Adjaho is simple: pressure, pressure, pressure. It's a strategy Melligen says may result in a knock-out. "Every time I fight," he says, "I think positive. I'm gonna win this fight. That's in my mind."

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