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By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.

Mon, 07 Nov 2016

Filipino boxing icon and incumbent Senator Manny Pacquiao added another world title belt to his already impressive collection by dethroning Jessie Vargas of Las Vegas in their WBO world welterweight title fight over the weekend.

But Nonito Donaire, another vital cog of the Golden Age of Philippine Boxing, faltered in his WBO world super bantamweight title defense against Jessie Magdaleno, also from Las Vegas.

Pacquiao had a strong start and when he decked Vargas with his lightning left hand, boxing fans in the entire Philippine archipelago thought he might finally break his seven year KO drought.

But credit goes to Vargas for hanging on and having his moments with his straight right. The scores of 118-109 from two judges were believable, but 114-113 was a real head-scratcher.

We may never see the old Pacquiao, who was an unstoppable force against Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Oscar dela Hoya and his highlight reel KO of Ricky Hatton.

But we should savor the remaining fighting years of the Pacman. He will turn 38 this December. We will never see a boxer like him in a dozen lifetimes.

Donaire?s loss was a shocker. Magdaleno was unbeaten but he hasn?t faced the same caliber of opposition that Donaire has fought at the world championship level since 2007.

In post fight interviews, Donaire and his new trainer Ismael Salas thought they won. After the rest of the smoke clears, they will have to ponder about the direction where the Filipino Flash will take his career.

Donaire will be 34 years old days from now. Since 2014, he has engaged in seven fights. Five of these are world title bouts where he has scored 3W-2L. Just like Pacquiao, Donaire has an impressive resume, and enough accolades to land in the Boxing Hall of Fame.

The vacant WBO world flyweight title was taken by Zou Shiming of China in his rematch against Prasitsak Phaprom of Thailand.

Two years ago, they fought in Macau and Zou emerged the victor by unanimous decision in a bruising match.

Zou became the second male boxer from mainland China to win a professional world boxing title. In 2012, Xiong Zhao Zhong captured the vacant WBC minimumweight title by beating Mexican Javier Martinez Resendiz by unanimous decision. A female Chinese boxer, Zhang Xiyan garnered two professional world titles - IBA women?s bantamweight in 2006 and the WBA world female super flyweight title in 2007.

Zou, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been the flagship of the ongoing boxing build-up in China. He was the main feature of the big money fights held in Macao which started in 2013. He came up short in his first attempt at a world title when he lost to Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand by unanimous decision in an IBF world title fight held in Macao last year.

Hiroshige Osawa of Japan lost to Oscar Valdez of Mexico by 7th round TKO in their battle for the WBO world featherweight title. Valdez, aside from his fearsome KO percentage, was the more polished fighter.

Osawa fought in the Philippines last April in Gen. Santos City and beat Yon Armed of Indonesia by TKO in the first round for the vacant WBO Asia-Pacific featherweight title. He carried the Philippine flag into the ring in Gensan to honor the home country of his mother.

Valdez on the other hand, has the tools to be a future superstar in the sport.

Another boxer from China, Xu Que, who was recently crowned WBO Greater China featherweight champion, also made an appearance on the Pacquiao-Vargas undercard.
Xu fought Fernando Fuentes of California in a non-title bout. Xu earned his WBO China crown when he beat Cheng Bingbing by unanimous decision last June in Shanghai. This fight was also the finals for the 126 lb division in the first season of the League of Fists boxing tournament.

Xu however, lost to Fuentes in a hard fought match by unanimous verdict.

To recap, five Asian boxers were involved in the four world title bouts sanctioned by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in a high profile fight card in the U.S. Their results were mixed but their presence underscores the continuing growth of boxing and the WBO in the Asia-Pacific region.

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