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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Philippine Pro Boxing Yearender: Manny back on top

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
05 Jan 2017



The big story in Philippine professional boxing in 2016 was Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s return to the throne as WBO welterweight champion. After losing to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in the sport’s richest fight ever last year, Pacquiao came roaring back to win twice----first, over Timothy Bradley for the vacant WBO International welterweight crown last April and second, over Jessie Vargas to regain the WBO diadem in the 147-pound division last month.

Pacquiao, now 38, is tipped to fight twice more next year before hanging up his gloves. Undefeated WBO/WBC superlightweight champion Terence Crawford and Australia's Jeff Horn have been mentioned as possible opponents but it appears likely that Pacquiao will end his career with two “payback” bouts against Juan Manuel Marquez and Mayweather. Pacquiao will only fight when the Senate takes a break so the schedule could be Marquez in April and Mayweather in November. Those are legacy battles for Pacquiao who’d like to end his career with a bang. But win or lose both fights, it’s certain Pacquiao will retire as one of the greatest fighters who ever lived.

In 2015, Filipinos saw action in 19 world title fights, posting a win-loss-draw record of 6-12-1. There were only four Filipinos who held world titles when 2015 came to a close----WBO lightflyweight king Donnie Nietes, WBO superbantamweight ruler Nonito Doniare, IBO lightflyweight champion Rey Loreto and interim WBA lightflyweight titlist Randy Petalcorin.

In 2016, Filipinos figured in only 13 world championship bouts, registering a 9-4 mark. As the year ended, the reigning Filipino world titleholders were Pacquiao, interim IBF lightflyweight champion Milan Melindo, IBF superlfyweight ruler Jerwin Ancajas, WBO bantamweight king Marlon Tapales and Women’s International Boxing Association/Global Boxing Union minimumweight queen Gretchen Abaniel. Three Filipinos relinquished their world crowns voluntarily during the year----Loreto as IBO lightflyweight champion, Nietes as WBO lightflyweight titlist and Johnriel Casimero as IBF flyweight ruler.

Not a single Filipino saw action in a WBA or IBO world title fight last year. There were six fights sanctioned by the WBO, four by the IBF and two by the WBC. Only two fighters were engaged in two world title bouts. One was Casimero who stopped Thailand’s Amnat Ruenroeng for the IBF flyweight throne in Bangkok last May and halted England’s Charlie Edwards to retain the belt in London last September. The other was Donaire who trounced Hungary’s Zsolt Bedak in Cebu last April and bowed to Jessie Magdaleno on points in Las Vegas last November.


Donaire (L) connects with a left at Magdaleno during their world title bout last December.

Donaire, 34, has called out Magdaleno for a rematch and a chance to regain his WBO title. But Magdaleno, who initially showed a lot of respect for Donaire after their fight, has changed his tune and lately accused the Filipino Flash of ducking him twice before agreeing to the mandatory defense. Magdaleno had earlier assured Donaire of a rematch to repay him for the title crack.

The latest development is Donaire has been lined up for a box-off to fill the WBC throne vacated by Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa who recently retired. The WBC has ordered No. 1 Rey Vargas of Mexico to face No. 2 Gavin McDonnell of Great Britain for the vacant title. Two other box-offs are in the works----No. 3 Hugo Ruiz of Mexico against No. 5 Anselmo Moreno of Panama and No. 4 Julio Ceja of Mexico and No. 6 Donaire. The winners of Ruiz-Moreno and Ceja-Donaire will slug it out for the right to challenge the winner of Vargas-McDonnell.

Another possibility is for Donaire to challenge WBO featherweight king Oscar Valdez of Mexico. It's a duel that Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said could happen in the first quarter of 2017.

It’s not certain what route Donaire will take but his plan is to fight thrice this year against “the best out there.” He won’t back down from a rematch with Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux or a showdown with the winner of the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz duel for the WBA featherweight crown in Las Vegas on Jan. 28. His priority is to take on Magdaleno again but if that’s not possible, he’ll do whatever it takes to bring him back in the world title mainstream.

Donaire was one of only four Filipinos to lose in world title fights this year. The others were Jetro Pabustan, Jonathan Taconing and Richie Mepranum. Pabustan lost on a seventh round technical decision to defending WBO bantamweight champion Panya Uthok in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, last February. The fight was stopped due to a cut on Pabustan’s left eyebrow inflicted by an accidental headbutt. At the time of the stoppage, Uthok was ahead by a mile in the three judges’ scorecards which were identical at 70-63. Pabustan, a southpaw from Sarangani now based in Cagayan de Oro, lost to Edison Berwela in his most recent outing in Benguet last month and now has a record of 27-4-6, with 8 KOs.


Taconing (L) and Lopez during the official weight of their world title fight last July.

Taconing bowed to Mexico’s Ganigan Lopez on a 12-round unanimous decision for the WBC lightflyweight crown in Mexico City last July. The Zamboanga del Norte fighter was deducted a point for an accidental headbutt but it didn’t matter as the scorecards showed Lopez comfortably on top in the end, 119-108, 119-109, 115-112. It was Taconing’s second loss in a world title bout. In 2012, he lost to Thailand’s Suriyan Satorn in a WBC lightflyweight title match by a majority technical decision in the fifth round in Buriram, Thailand. Taconing, 29, has a 23-3-1 record, with 19 KOs, and is the reigning Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) lightflyweight champion.

Last April, Mepranum was decisioned by Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras in a WBC superflyweight title fight in Sinaloa, Mexico. It was the Sarangani southpaw’s third loss in a world title fight. In 2010, he was stopped by Julio Cesar Miranda for the vacant WBO flyweight crown and four years later, surrendered to Juan Francisco Estrada at the end of nine rounds in a WBA/WBO flyweight title fight. Mepranum, 29, suffered the three setbacks in Mexico. His record is now 31-6-1, with 8 KOs.

The year 2016 ended with the five most prominent sanctioning bodies----the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO----recognizing 32 Filipinos in their top 10 world ratings.

Here's the complete list----minimumweight No. 9 Melvin Jerusalem, lightflyweight, No. 2 Taconing, No. 3 Loreto, No. 6 Petalcorin, superbantamweight No. 6 Donaire; WBA----superlightweight No. 5 Czar Amonsot, lightflyweight No. 5 Jessie Espinas; IBF----superfeatherweight No. 9 Harmonito de la Torre, superbantamweight No. 10 Genesis Sevania, bantamweight No. 9 Marjohn Yap, superflyweight No. 10 Rene Dacquel, flyweight No. 3 Nietes, lightflyweight No. 8 Petalcorin.

WBO----superlightweight No. 1 Jason Pagara, lightweight No. 8 Juan Martin Elorde, featherweight No. 6 Mark Magsayo, superbantamweight No. 3 Donaire, No. 4 Juan Miguel Elorde, No. 7 Servania, bantamweight No. 1 Arthur Villanueva, flyweight No. 1 Nietes, lightflyweight No. 8 Espinas, minimumweight No. 4 Vic Saludar, No. 8 Robert Paradero; IBO----superlightweight No. 10 Al Rivera, superbantamweight No. 3 Donaire, bantamweight No. 10 Yap, lightflyweight No. 2 Loreto, No. 5 Espinas, No. 8 Melindo, No. 10 Taconing, minimumweight No. 7 Saludar.

Counting only once the Filipinos who were ranked by more than one body, the list of top 10 fighters will drop to 21. There were eight Filipinos recognized by at least two bodies with Donaire and Espinas cited by three.

Fighters who were ranked No. 1 and are in line for a title shot as mandatory challengers are Pagara, Villanueva and Nietes. The first Filipino to see action in a world title fight this year is Ancajas who defends his IBF superflyweight crown against Mexico's Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Macau on Jan. 29. The first Filipino to seek a world crown in 2017 is Joey Canoy, a 23-year-old southpaw from Mandaue. Canoy is ranked No. 11 in the minimumweight division by the IBO and will move up to the lightflyweight ranks to face Hekkie Budler for the vacant IBO 108-pound crown in South Africa on Feb. 4. Canoy has won his last two outings by KO and totes a 12-2-1 record, with six KOs. Budler, 28, is a former WBA/IBO minimumweight champion with a 30-2 record, including nine KOs.

The best-kept secret among the top 10 fighters is Paradero, a 20-year-old Bukidnon slugger who has never seen action in Manila. Paradero is the reigning WBO Asia Pacific Youth minimumweight champion and has fought exclusively in Mindanao, displaying his wares in Bukindon, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, Dipolog and General Santos City. He boasts a record of 13-0, with 8 KOs.

Four fighters on the rise are Dacquel, Rivera, Yap and Espinas. Dacquel, 25, won the Orient and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) sperflyweight title via a 12-round decision over Go Onaga in Okinawa last August to raise his record to 18-6-1, with six KOs. Onaga was decked once in the eighth round. Rivera, 23, stopped Shinya Iwabuchi in the seventh round to claim the OPBF superlightweight belt in Tokyo last February. His record is 17-2, with 15 KOs. Rivera is from Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Yap, 27, has won his last six outings with a record of 25-12, including 11 KOs. Now based in Osaka, Yap hails from Cagayan de Oro. He has fought his last 12 bouts in Japan. Last month, he stopped Takahiro Yamamoto in the fifth round to win the OPBF bantamweight crown in Kobe.


Espinas wins in Thailand.

Espinas, 24, is a lefthander from Oroquieta with a 15-2 record, including 11 KOs. He has won his last five assignments, four by KO and three in Thailand. Last February, Espinas halted Pai Pharob to take the WBO Oriental lightflyweight diadem in Surin, Thailand. Pharob was down once in the fourth and twice in the eighth.

A surprise entry in the top 10 is Amonsot, now based in Australia. In 2007, the Bohol blaster lost to Australian Michael Katsidis in Las Vegas and took nearly a two-year rest to recover from the brutal brawl. Since the Katsidis fight, the 31-year-old Amonsot is unbeaten in 17 bouts, the last 14 in Australia. He is the reigning interim WBA Oceania superlightweight champion with a record of 33-3-3, with 21 KOs.

Filipinos posted a 9-4 record in world title fights this year. The nine wins were registered by Pacquiao, Tapales, Casimero twice, Donaire, Ancajas, Nietes, Melindo and Abaniel. The four losses were posted by Taconing, Mepranum, Pabustan and Donaire.


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