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List of Articles by Dennis U. Eroa

Drian’s ‘‘Golden Fists’’ lose luster; SBB withdraws suit

By Dennis U. Eroa
04 Jun 2015


TRUTH hurts. And this saying applies to all of us. Athletes, of course, are not excluded. Recently, this happened to former WBA interim junior bantamweight titleholder Drian Francisco.

Now 32, Francisco suffered a terrible first round knockout loss to Cebuano fighter Jason Canoy in a fight recently at the Lagao Gym in General Santos City. The fight was promoted by MP Promotions.

Dubbed as the ‘‘Golden Fists’’ because of his knockout prowess brought about by his ring savvy, Francisco, now 32, was once heralded as the next Filipino world boxing champion.

But bad decisions which ran contrary to the highest norm of professionalism got in the way of Francisco’s rise. He was one fight away from winning the world title three years ago when his original promoter Saved by the Bell Promotion headed by Batangueño sports patron Elmer Anuran lined up a fight with Panamanian star Anselmo Moreno.

But things didn’t go as planned.

‘‘Everything was in order. Saved by the Bell Promotion BB brought Drian to the US to toughen his skills and lined big-time fights for him to attain international stardom,’’ recalled the youthful Anuran.

Drian arrived in the US last 2012, but something went wrong as he opted not to finish his contract with SBB which would last till 2016. Instead, he became cold with his handlers and to the exasperation of Anuran and his group, opted not to honor the live contract and joined Justin Fortune.

‘‘Drian’s decision wasn’t really a surprise for us because he was no longer the same Drian that we knew when SBB went to the US. I think he’d already made up his mind to leave the group despite the existence of a contract,’’ recalled Anuran, whose expert handling led to the rise of the Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro native. Francisco became talk of the town when he demolished Pamanamian Roberto Vasquez at the Cuneta Astrodome in 2009. He won the vacant WBA International super flyweight title but Anuran didn’t stop in looking for mainers.

Francisco next victimized American Ricardo Nunez for the WBA Super flyweight eliminator at the Ynares Sports Arena and his star continued to rise when he invaded Thailand to fight the ageless Duangpetch Kokietgym, who had an impressive 53 victories in 54 outings.

Rabid Thai fans, however, became instant Francisco fans when the Pinoy pugilist fashioned a convincing 10th round TKO victory over the Thai at the Bueng Kan School in Nong Khai, Thailand. Duangpetch needed to be rushed to the hospital as he became unconscious from the beatings he got from Francisco.

But Francisco’s reign as interim world champion was shortlived as he bowed to another Thai fighter Tepparith Kokietym by unanimous decision six months later at the Benjamatheputid School in Petchaburi, Thailand. The bout was supposed to be a stepping stone for a fight against champion Hugo Cazares of Mexico.

His handlers noted weaknesses in Drian’s style but Anuran didn’t lose hope. Francisco scored a victory via unanimous decision over fellow Filipino and world-rated Michael Domingo at the Makati Coliseum before annexing the interim IBF Pan Pacific super bantamweight crown by knocking out Pitchitchai Twins Gym in the first round at the Sablayan Astrodome in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.

The parting of ways between SBB and Francisco was a shock to ring fans. Up to now, Francisco didn’t say his reason/s for neglecting the contract which put his career in jeopardy.

‘‘SBB decided to file the case because we want to prove a point. We want to protect promoter’s rights as we protect the rights of boxers. This is about dignity and professionalism,” wika ni Anuran, whose lawyers filed a case at Makati City.

But Anuran had a change of heart. In an exclusive interview, Anuran said SBB decided to withdraw the suit following Francisco’s shock setback to Canoy. Anuran watched the fight on his smartphone as his former ward got floored thrice in the first round.

‘‘SBB will withdraw the suit for breach of contract. We don’t want to add insult to injury. SBB is hopeful that Drian has learned his lessons well,’’ said Anuran.‘‘There is a thing called destiny.’’

While Francisco’s career hangs in balance, Anuran said he is bringing three or more boxers from the SBB stable to the US for extensive training and exposure.

‘‘The search for world champions is tough and an uphill climb. But SBB’s not stopping,’’ concluded Anuran.

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