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Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
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By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.

14 Dec 2009

The champ is home.

I have waited more than three years to finally write this opening line. For Rodel Mayol, the wait seemed like an eternity in boxing’s purgatory; a nine year career marred by four failed attempts at a world crown.

But Mayol pressed on. Now, he is back in Mandaue City, Cebu with the WBC light flyweight crown and a lesson in the value of perseverance for all of us.

There is a younger generation of fight fans who just got hooked to boxing because of Manny Pacquiao; they never got to see Mayol when he was an amateur representing our island in National Tournaments. There are those who never got to see him as a rising star and tagged as a future world champion.

But for those who saw and still remembered it was worth the wait.

Rodel and his wife Lira were guests of the popular Sunday evening Cebu DYHP radio program “Pinoy Boxing” hosted by Salven Lagumbay and Edward Ligas. I was fortunate enough to be invited and I got to listen in and ask questions.

Mayol talked about his courtesy call at the Mandaue City Hall and Mayor Jonas Cortes awarded him with a cash incentive.

Why was he called “Batang Mandaue”?

“I used to hang out at the Plaza in Mandaue. Sometimes I’d earn money washing cars. I also worked as a ball boy in the old tennis courts. Mandaue City is also known for producing boxing champs.”

Mayol was part of a fearsome amateur boxing squad who during the mid to late 1990’s would terrorize even the members of the national training pool. His team mates included Eriberto Gejon, Randy Suico, Malcolm Tunacao, Dindo Castanares, Bart Abapo and Jovan Presbiterio. They would later make their mark on the pro circuit winning local and regional titles with Castanares winning a WBF title belt and Tunacao winning the WBC world flyweight crown.

A world title was in Mayol’s destiny. But then came the setbacks – Eagle Kyowa (WBC 2006), Ulises Solis (IBF 2007), Adrian Hernandez (non-title bout 2008) and going one draw-one loss in technical decisions against WBO champ Ivan Calderon this year.

Which among those losses hurt the most?

“The loss to Ulises Solis. I was having managerial and contract problems and I couldn’t concentrate on my training. I was very sluggish during the fight. This was the fight where I was starting to think about whether I should go on.”

Would he like a rematch against any of them?

“Against Adrian Hernandez. I was not ready mentally and physically for that fight.”

What is the most valuable lesson Freddie Roach taught you?

“How to think inside the ring and that I should be one step ahead of my opponent. Freddie would simulate the style of my opponent when we hit the pads. He taught me how to read my opponents style. Even when he wasn’t in my corner when took the title from Edgar Sosa (It was Jesse Arevalo), I still remembered the lessons he taught me.”

Who is your boxing idol?

“It used to be Ricardo Lopez of Mexico who retired undefeated. Now it’s Manny Pacquiao. I admire his courage in the ring.”

Would you consider fighting Brian Viloria?

“I don’t really think it’s a good idea, considering that he is also a Filipino and we have few world tile belts. But if the fans want to see that fight, why not?”

Do you have difficulty maintaining 108 lbs now that you’re 28 year old and married with a wife that will cook for you?

“No, not really. Members of our clan all have small frames.”

The Mayols have two kids. We also asked his wife, Lira if there are “other women” now going after her husband?

“No, but I’m ready for them.” She said with a smile.

How does she react when her husband has a fight?

“I can’t before his fight. I don’t even want to watch him but I had to watch him during his title win because the hotel was far and I don’t want to be the last person to hear the news.” Lira is a Business management graduate of University of the Philippines. Rodel reached third year of an accountancy college course at Southwestern University also in Cebu City.

Lira wants Rodel to box until he’s thirty. She has supported her husband through the moments when he was down and all seemed lost. Rodel used to work part time in a Pinoy department store in L.A. He is saving his earnings from boxing and he has yet to earn really big money. But if he gets his wish to fight in the Pacquiao-Mayweather undercard it could do wonders for his career.

“They told me I would be defending against Omar Nino Romero. I would like to defend my title here in Cebu. But my dream fight would be a unification match against WBA champ Giovanni Segura in the undercard of Pacquiao-Mayweather.”

Mayol vs Segura should be one every fight fan’s wish list. Hosts Salven Lagumbay and Edward Ligas even want the fans to clamour for it. For us who followed Mayol’s career through the years, we wish him the best as well as a long reign.

(Bottom photo: The Mayols at DYHP)

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