BoomBoom's Search for Redemption
By Homer D. Sayson
21 Nov 2008
CHICAGO -- A mere 15 months ago, Rey "BoomBoom" Bautista was cruising on the fastrack to greatness, an undefeated prospect pregnant with unlimited promise.
With the might of his two hands, he had knocked out 17 of his first 22 opponents, a notoriety that elevated him as a top super bantamweight contender.
Quickly, BoomBoom became a fistic sensation, adored by millions of Filipinos and anointed as heir-apparent to Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao, a living national treasure in the Philippines.
Everybody loved BoomBoom. And deservedly so. His impoverished beginnings in the small town of Candijay, Bohol was an inspiration. He had a shy smile that was easy to sell, an eagerness to please that is endearing. Most importantly, his power was dazzling.
But all of that changed on the night of August 11, 2007, when his quest for the WBO title ended in a 1st Round KO defeat at the heavy hands of Daniel Ponce De Leon. The scene of the "crime" was the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California where the highly-touted World Cup of Boxing was held.
Bautista's rising star falls with his rubbery legs on Aug. 11, 2007 after a first round demolition in the hands of Mexican champion Daniel Ponce de Leon.
All of a sudden, BoomBoom's well-lit stage had gone dark. The cheers almost immediately died down. And most of the adulation vanished the way eye bags dissipate after a long, good night's rest.
Victory, indeed, has many fathers. While defeat is a lonely orphan.
The adversity proved very daunting. Just a tender 21-year old at that time, BoomBoom was crestfallen, pinned to the ground by the weight of his fans' lofty expectations. Soon, he was drowning in a sea of sadness and shame.
But time has a magical way of soothing life's deepest wounds. Four months after his greatest debacle, BoomBoom mustered both the will and the courage to re-lace his leather gloves. And the results were positive, signalling the start of what could be another slow and steady climb to the top of his sport.
Leaking with a little rust. BoomBoom plodded through 12 rounds against Antonio Meza before showing enough moxie to pull a unanimous decision win on Dec. 2, 2007. He then KO'd Genaro Marquez in two rounds at the Araneta Coliseum on April 8, 2008 and TKO'd Eden Marquez also in two rounds at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City last Aug. 30 this year.
BoomBoom is thirsty for more challenges. And he will get one this Saturday night in Las Vegas, where he brawls in the undercard of the Hatton-Malignaggi pay-per-view battle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"Im excited," he told this writer Tuesday afternoon in Nevada. His voice reeking with unbridled enthusiasm, BoomBoom is eagerly looking forward to recapture the glory of his past triumphs in Las Vegas, boxing's modern Mecca, a desert that never sleeps.
BoomBoom's manager, Michael Aldeguer, shares his fighters excitement. "We want to silence some of the doubters, and we feel very confident that BoomBoom will accomplish some of that when he delivers what we expect to be a fine performance this Saturday night.
"Since arriving in Las Vegas last Oct. 28, BoomBoom has had an excellent training camp. He has trained hard at the Floyd Mayweather gym, sparred reasonably well, and trainer Edito Villamor has worked especially hard to improve BoomBoom's defense," Aldeguer added.
Aldeguer, however, insists that the road to BoomBoom's redemption doesn't have to go through Daniel Ponce De Leon. He cited Oscar Dela Hoya's defeat to Felix Trinidad and Marco Antonio Barrera's twin falls to Junior Jones as shining examples of the fact that great fighters don't have to avenge their defeats to cement their legacies in the fight world.
Aldeguer did qualify that should a chance to fight De Leon present itself at an opportuned time, BoomBoom will gladly jump on it.
For now, though, BoomBoom can only worry about his next foe ---
Ruiz is no punching bag. He is a veteran of 39 fights, and though he has seven losses to his name, he sure can punch as shown by his record of 23 KOs.
And thus, the journey continues for BoomBoom, one good punch after another. This time, however, his slate is no longer unblemished and his path is crowded with doubters in the sidelines. And the tests will only get tougher as the spotlight shines on him once more.
Will BoomBoom prevail this Saturday? I don't know, but I sure hope so.
Not only because I like BoomBoom, but largely because good stories always crave for good endings.
P.S. I'd like to thank old pals, lawyer Abet Montefalcon Jr of
Sacramento and RN Jerome Naldoza of Houston, for their support and encouragement.
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