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Land of Rising Sun dear to Jerusalem

MANILA, Philippines — For the second time in his career, Melvin Jerusalem is bringing home a major boxing title after a trip to his favorite hunting ground, Japan.

Jerusalem left the Land of the Rising Sun with the World Boxing Council strawweight belt around his waist, marking another successful crown grab against a favored Japanese holder.

Jerusalem’s latest victim was unbeaten titlist Yudai Shigeoka, whom the Pinoy pride knocked down twice en route to a clinching split decision verdict on Easter Sunday in Nagoya.

With this feat, the 30-year-old provided a breath of fresh air to Philippine boxing that has suffered losses recently.

And by dethroning Shigeoka, Jerusalem ended the “Japan curse” that seemed to have bogged the likes of Marlon Tapales and Jerwin Ancajas in the past few months.

Unlike his compatriots, the pride of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon seems to thrive in the challenging environs of Japan.

In 2023, Jerusalem stunned Japanese holder Masataka Taniguchi via a second-round technical knockout to wrest the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 105-lb strap in Osaka. He lost this in his first defense in the US to Puerto Rican Oscar Collazo, who stopped the Pinoy holder in seven rounds.

Jerusalem first met his destiny as world champion while fighting in Japan. Then he did it again the other night.

Surely, Japan holds a special place in Jerusalem’s heart.

And he demonstrated this by introducing his inspiration – his Japanese girlfriend Yurino – during his post-fight chat with the media in Nagoya.

He posed for photos with Yurino, who proudly held the green belt, and planted a kiss on her cheek.