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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Why was Nietes left out?

By Joaquin Henson
01 Jul 2018

Boxing News, the London trade magazine that was established in 1909, recently came out with a list of the 10 best fighters to come from the Philippines under the heading of “Filipino Phenoms.”

Topping the honor roll was Manny Pacquiao, a shoo-in for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The publication described Pacquiao as “the most famous boxer to emerge from the Philippines,” adding that “Pacquiao has won world titles in eight different divisions----from flyweight to superwelterweight----and beaten Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto.”

Next in line was Hall of Famer Flash Elorde who “held a version of the world junior lightweight title from 1960 to 1967 and made 10 successful defenses during that time.” Third was Nonito Donaire, Jr., another future Hall of Famer. Boxing News said, “Donaire won world titles at flyweight, bantamweight, superbantamweight and featherweight and was long considered the heir apparent to Pacquiao.” Fourth was Luisito Espinosa. The magazine said, “Espinosa scooped the WBA bantamweight title in 1989, beating Khaokor Galaxy in the first round and then made seven successful defenses of the WBC feather crown.”

Hall of Famer Pancho Villa was fifth. “The first-ever Filipino world champion, national hero Villa won the flyweight title in 1923 with a knockout of Jimmy Wilde,” said Boxing News. It should have noted that Villa was the first-ever Asian world titlist and died at the age of 25 due to complications stemming from Ludwig’s Angina as the reigning world flyweight king. In his heyday, Villa was the toast of US boxing because of his flamboyance, charisma and exciting daredevil style. It was almost like Pacquiao followed in his footsteps.

Sixth was Rolando Navarrete. “Known as the Bad Boy of Dadiangas (General Santos City), Navarrete stopped Cornelius Boza-Edwards in five rounds to lift the WBC superfeatherweight title,” wrote Boxing News. Seventh was Ben Villaflor. “A pro at 13, Villaflor became the WBA superfeatherweight champion in 1972,” the publication noted. Villaflor lost the WBA throne to Kuniaki Shibata on points in his second defense in 1973 but regained it from the Japanese via a first round knockout seven months later. Villaflor eventually yielded the title to Puerto Rico’s Sammy Serrano in his sixth defense on his second reign in 1976.

Ceferino Garcia was eighth. “In a career spanning 164 pro bouts, Garcia fought Henry Armstrong for the world welterweight title in 1938 and then stopped Glen Lee to win the middleweight title the following year,” said Boxing News. It’s a crime that to this day, Garcia has not been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Ironically, the man whom he dethroned as world middleweight champion on a seventh round stoppage at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1939, Fred Apostoli, is a Hall of Famer. Garcia introduced the “bolo punch” in boxing and posted a record of 120-30-14, with 76 KOs, from 1923 to 1945. He’s in the record books as the only Filipino to win the world middleweight crown and the Filipino fighter with the most career wins.

In ninth place was Little Dado. Boxing News said, “Little Dado, real name Eleuterio Zapanta, won world titles at flyweight and bantamweight and fought fellow Filipino Little Pancho a whopping five times.” Finally, there was Gerry Penalosa, described as “a former two-time WBC superflyweight champion and WBO bantamweight champion.”

Several other Filipino champions could’ve or probably should’ve been cited, including Brian Viloria, Small Montana, Erbito Salavarria and Dodie Boy Penalosa but the biggest omission was Donnie Nietes. There’s no question that Nietes, who has won world titles in three divisions, deserves to be on the list of the 10 greatest Filipino fighters ever. He’s in the top 10 pound-for-pound ratings today. On Aug. 18, Nietes will battle another Filipino Aston Palicte for the vacant WBO superflyweight crown and if he wins, it will be his fourth world title in a different weight class. Nietes, 36, hasn’t lost in 33 straight fights since dropping a disputed hometown split decision to Angky Angkota in Jakarta in 2004. His record is now 41-1-4, with 23 KOs.

In another Boxing News list, two Filipinos made it among the top 10 “good guys” of the fight game. No. 1 was Donaire. “He won the hearts of the Belfast population (he fought Carl Frampton in Northern Ireland last April) and conducted himself in a way that should become the benchmark for the rest,” said the magazine. Pacquiao was No. 7. “While his religious beliefs have led to some questionable comments, there can be no denying the good work Pacquiao has done in his native Philippines,” said the publication. Others in the “good guys” list were Anthony Crolla, David Price, Joseph Parker, Tommy Coyle, Gennady Golovkin, Ricky Burns, Frampton and Luke Watkins. On Golovkin, Boxing News said: “Fights like a destroyer, smiles like a choirboy, Golovkin has chopped through countless middleweights and then politely thanked them.”

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