WILD AND WACKY NIGHT OF BOXING
By Manny Piñol
22 Aug 2005
Boxing returned to South Cotabato last week in a rather wild and wacky way as the night was marked by events that ranged from the hilarious to dangerous.
The crowd that witnessed the event at the air-conditioned South Cotabato Gymnasium was not big. But it was remarkable enough as it was the first boxing event ever to be staged in Koronadal City after the infamous 1997 World Featherweight Championship fight which is still remembered until today as the world title fight where the champion, Luisito Espinosa, was not paid his $120,000 purse.
The bouts were exciting and the boys from North Cotabato performed very well but their victories were overshadowed by two incidents that proved to be the talk of the town after the fight.
First was the "knock out" of a boxing referee who got hit on the forehead by a stray punch as he was trying to break up to boxers who were locked in a grapple.
Referee Abdul Maradjan, a veteran of local fights, was coming from behind boxer Denber Cuello, who was embracing his opponent Tommy Terado when Terado threw a left that missed Cuello and hit the referee snack on the forehead.
I saw Maradjan's knees buckle but he succeeded in breaking up the boxers. As he walked away from the disentangled fighters, however, he wobbled and had to hang on to the ring ropes to stay standing.
Seeing this, GAB supervisor Jimmy Mata decided to ask Maradjan to come down and dispatched a new referee, Ronnie Mondejar, to continue officiating the fight.
"First time," Maradjan later told me after the fight, meaning that was the first time he got hit while officiating a fight. My first time too to witness a referee "knocked out" by a stray punch.
That hilarious incident was followed later by the fight between former WBC International Miniflyweight Champion Arman dela Cruz and Thailand's Detchak Sitsaithong which served as the main event of the fight.
I sensed early on that something wrong was going to happen when the miniature boxer which adorned the trophy that was to be given to the winner fell off after it was accidentally hit by boxing manager Leonel Lazarito following the ceremonial handshaking in the middle of the ring.
De la Cruz who wanted to be impressive in the fight immediately launched an all-out attack right after the opening bell pummeling the Thai with punches to the midsection and pursuing his opponent all over the ring.
At about 40 seconds into the fight, the Thai countered with a right cross which Dela Cruz evaded by ducking. But as the Filipino boxer bobbed up following the punch, his right forehead hit Sitsaithong on the chin with such intensity that made me hear something cracking.
Sitsaithong fell hard on the canvas and was counted out at 48 seconds of the first round in a scheduled 10-round fight. The problem was Sitsaithong did not regain consciousness even after he was counted out.
Doctors had to rush up the ring and after 25 minutes of trying to revive the Thai, decided to call in an ambulance and brought the boxer to a hospital in Koronadal City where he recovered an hour later.
What proved to be the fight of the night was the encounter between the young Glenn Porras of North Cotabato and the veteran and strong Elner Fontanilla of Manila who fought for a full exciting eight rounds.
Fontanilla, 24, who came into the ring with a smile of confidence in his face having knocked out all of his last four opponents tagged Porras with very strong punches that sent the young Cotabato boxer's mouthpiece flying in all directions at least three times.
But Porras, 20, a bantamweight, fought back with the ferocity of Manny Pacquiao and refused to be intimidated by the boxer trained by Pacquiao's assistant trainer Buboy Fernandez.
Porras outboxed Fontanilla four, sometimes five, punches to one and came out of the fight proving to everybody that he is a young talent worth watching.
Personally, I believe that Porras would bloom into another Pacquiao because he has the power and the heart.
As every boxing man knows, power and heart are the most important ingredients in the making of a world boxing champion.
I watched Z Gorres at the San Andres Gym in Manila against an unknown Thai fighter who was reluctant to throw a punch. His name Zzzz and his monicker "The Dream" fit him to a tee. He nearly sent me to sleep.
I do not understand why so much hype and attention is given to Gorres. You pit him against the reigning Philipine jr. bantamweight champion Eric Barcelona and he will be whipped any time.
Boxing people should now realize that media hype do not make champions out of palookas.
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