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List of Articles by Rico Navarro

Bleacher Talk: Pinoy Pride Goes to Manila

By Rico Navarro
21 May 2012

We have good news and some bad news. The good news: Pinoy Pride is indeed shifting into high gear with a world title fight featuring Donnie Nietes on June 2. And that’s not it. Pinoy Pride will also have two big events featuring Boom Bautista and AJ “Bazooka” Banal later in the year. The bad news? All these won’t happen here in Cebu.

Let’s just say we saw it coming. When we talked about the need for ALA Promotions to do more than what they’re currently doing, it obviously meant more fights of a bigger scale that would appeal to the Pinoy boxing fan. High on the list would have to be a world title fight. And there should be more fights featuring foreigners who will truly give our local boxers a good challenge on top of the ring. And it looks like we have it here. WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes defends his belt for the first time against challenger Felipe Salguero of Mexico on June 2. But again, this isn’t taking place at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino or the Hoops Dome. Unfortunately for us Cebuanos, it’s taking place at the Resorts World Hotel in Metro Manila. This obviously means that we’ll have to settle on watching the fight on TV on a delayed basis on the morning of June 3. We’ll also read news about another Pinoy Pride card in July featuring Boom Boom Bautista. Then AJ Banal comes in around October for a possible world championship fight. Venue? Location? Dennis Garcia and the rest of Hotdog will sing, “Manila, Manila, I keep coming back to Manila. Simply no place like Manila. Manila, I’m coming home.”

But again I ask, why Manila? Does ALA Promotions really need to have the fights staged in Manila? Are they guaranteed of the kind of crowds that we in Cebu bring to all their fight cards? What has Cebu done that Team ALA has decided to take the Pinoy Pride show to Manila? Or what does Manila have that Cebu doesn’t? Does ABS-CBN have something to do with this move? Will another Pinoy Pride event be held in Cebu for the rest of 2012?

To me, there are some things which are both understandable and confusing at the same time. For starters, it’s a fact that boxing events in Manila draw more chairs than spectators. And this leads to the conclusion that they may not be after ticket sales as a major source of revenues. I guess the sponsors and ABS-CBN will take care of this. But the other side of the coin is that Manila is Manila. It’s the biggest market base for any product the country and where advertisers find their audience, their target market, their money. I’m afraid this is something Cebu can’t provide. This most likely plays a big role in ALA’s decision to invade Manila. I guess ALA Promotions’ drive to make Cebu the home of world-class boxing will have to be tinkered with a bit, at least for the rest of 2012. What Cebu plants, Manila will harvest. Sad but so true and unavoidable. I wish I could disagree with this statement but the wheels have rolled and the path is clear. But while we’ll have to accept this as a soon-to-be norm, there are two basic requests that I’d like to make from ALA Promotions.

The first is: Please don’t forget the Cebuano fan. He has been there at every Pinoy Pride event, including the biggest pre-Pinoy Pride cards that featured Gorres-Montiel, Gorres-Darchinyan and Banal-Concepcion. He doesn’t have the budget to go to Manila for every Pinoy Pride event and deserves a few Pinoy Pride fights on local shores. I just hope that this move to Manila isn’t permanent. Please spare at least two more Pinoy Pride events for Cebu. My other request is for ALA Promotions not to forget the Cebu press. Like the fans, they are diehard supporters of Cebu Boxing, but when things get bigger, somehow the Cebu Press is set aside for the big boys from Manila. This is an inevitable thing, but I’m sure there’s still enough room for the Cebuano sportswriting media in all ALA events. It’ll be interesting to do a roll call of the press on June 2. You’ll see what I mean.

This is truly is one of the toughest facts of life that we Cebuano fans will have to accept. ALA Promotions has shifted into high gear and they realize that some sacrifices will have to be made. Some bold steps need to be taken. This means leaving Cebu “temporarily” and building a market in Manila. Meanwhile, Cebu will have to settle with the “C” level events that ALA also promotes, e.g. Mancio-Cabillo Sunday night and the Cobra Fight Series.

At the end of the day, if ALA reaches its objective of making Cebu (or is it Manila?) the home of world-class boxing, and also produces more world champions, then going to Manila is a wise, strategic move to take. And as loyal fans, we support this but also wish that we aren’t forgotten or set aside.

Photo (L-R): Servania, Nietes and Melindo during Friday's Pinoy Pride XIV presscon at the City Sports Club Cebu.

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