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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Misguided Tepora must refocus

By Joaquin Henson
06 Feb 2019

It was supposed to be interim WBA featherweight champion Jhack Tepora’s coming out party. He was booked to receive a cool $100,000 for staking his crown against Mexico’s Hugo Ruiz in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas two weeks ago.

Tepora, 25, was sensational in stopping Mexico’s Edivaldo Ortega in the ninth round in the undercard of Pacquiao’s win over Lucas Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur last July. That raised his record to 22-0, with 17 KOs and his reward was the interim WBA 126-pound title. Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons figured the time was ripe to showcase Tepora in a major US card and the golden opportunity was laid out in the Showtime pay-per-view event where his defense against Ruiz would open the four-fight coverage capped by the Pacquiao-Broner mainer.

But disaster struck Tepora on the way to Las Vegas. A few days before Christmas, Gibbons reached out to Tepora to check on his weight. He scaled 140 pounds and Gibbons got worried. Still, with four weeks to go, Tepora had time to trim down. When Tepora arrived in Las Vegas over a week before fight night, his weight even went up to 147. The concern was Tepora would be stripped of the title on the scales if he couldn’t make weight and went on to fight Ruiz for the paycheck.

Anticipating Tepora’s weight problem, Gibbons enlisted a Mexican fighter Alberto Guevara to stand by as a replacement. The plan was to save Tepora’s belt. If Tepora couldn’t make weight, Gibbons would bring in Guevara to fight Ruiz instead with no title at stake. Tepora would remain interim WBA featherweight champion but at the cost of not receiving his $100,000 purse.

While in Las Vegas, Tepora desperately tried to shed the excess poundage. Gibbons asked Mexican conditioning coach and nutrition expert Memo Heredia to work on Tepora and find out if he could make weight. Heredia was the same miracle worker who transformed Juan Manuel Marquez into a muscle-bound machine in his fourth fight against Pacquiao. There was too little time for Heredia to work another miracle and Tepora weighed in 5 1/2 pounds over the limit. In his dehydrated state, Tepora was in no condition to fight. Guevara took his place in the card and was outpointed by Ruiz. Guevara went down for a mandatory eight-count in the first round but survived the distance with Ruiz who upped his record to 39-4, with 33 KOs, including 18 in the opening stanza.

Ruiz, 32, is now lined up to challenge WBA featherweight titlist Gervonta Davis in Carson City, California, on Feb. 9. Mexico’s Abner Mares was signed up to face Davis but got injured, paving the way for Ruiz to gain the chance for another world title. Ruiz was once the WBC superbantamweight ruler. If Tepora had made weight and beaten Ruiz, he would’ve been elevated to battle Davis.

Tepora is sadly misguided. A source said his wife Dinah recently agreed to give 20 percent of his purses to two Americans, one based in Cebu and the other in Boston, for the next five years. The two Americans were contracted to handle Tepora’s business, marketing and promotional affairs. Tepora is also obliged to share 33 percent of his purses with former business manager Omega Boxing Gym for the next two years. So if he pays 30 percent tax and 10 percent to his trainer, what’s left is 7 percent for Tepora from every fight at least in the next two years.

Tepora’s trainers are his brothers Pingping and Jingjing. Obviously, lack of discipline was an issue in training camp. No way Tepora should’ve been allowed to balloon to 147 pounds during the holidays. The Ruiz fight could’ve been the turning point of his career, the chance to prove himself worthy of a world title shot and big money. And Tepora blew it.

There is talk that when Tepora went to the US Embassy with his wife and brothers to apply for visas, they forgot to bring their passports and when Tepora was in transit to Las Vegas, he left his interim WBA belt in a briefcase in the airport. Luckily, the briefcase was retrieved by Southwest Airlines. Someone should screw Tepora’s head in place.

Gibbons, however, isn’t giving up on Tepora. “The guy can punch,” he said. “I think he would’ve knocked out Ruiz and moved up to fight Davis. I don’t know what happened to Tepora from Kuala Lumpur to Las Vegas. But if he can commit to making weight, we’ll bring him to the US to train for two months before his next fight. It’s up to him. Those who support him can only do so much.”

Photo: Jhack Tepora (L) and Hugo Ruiz during their weighin at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Jan. 18.

Back to Joaquin Henson's Articles Listing

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