Villanueva, 2 Pinoy Boxers In Pacquiao-Marquez Card
By Manny Piñol
23 Sep 2011
Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) Oriental Featherweight champion Lorenzo "Thunderbolt" Villanueva and two other Filipino boxers have been personally selected by Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao to see action in the undercard of his classic third meeting with Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas on Nov. 12.
Villanueva, Philippine welterweight champion Dennis Laurente and junior bantamweight Fernando Lumacad were each chosen for different reasons.
For Villanueva, Pacquiao said he would like to give the 24-year-old orphan a chance to prove himself in tougher fights in America, the proverbial land of milk and honey for struggling Filipino boxers.
Villanueva, a southpaw just like Pacquiao, holds an impeccable record of 21 wins with 20 knockouts and is now being handled by Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach and renowned physical conditioner Alex Ariza, both of whom are also working on the Pacman.
For Laurente, the fight on Nov. 12 will determine whether he will finally earn the chance to fight for the world title at a late age of 34.
"If he wins on Nov. 12, I will arrange a world championship fight for him," Pacquiao said of Laurente who is managed by Johnny Elorde, scion of the Elorde boxing clan with whom Manny has very deep friendship.
Laurente, a righthander, holds a record of 40 wins, 21 KOs, 4 losses and 5 draws.
Perhaps the most controversial choice of the Pacman to fight in his undercard against Marquez in the prime venue of boxing which is Las Vegas is General Santos City boxer, Fernando Lumacad, 25, who proved to be an embarassment to Philippine boxing when he yielded in the third round of his fight against the legendary Mexican warrior Jorge Arce, even asking for Arce's robe as a remembrance after the fight.
"Pinagbigyan ko si Claude,' the 8-division world champion said. Claude is Jean Claude Mananquil, a friend of Pacquiao who is now managing and promoting Lumacad after he was banished from the American Boxing Academy gym by his former manager Ken Smith.
"But I told Claude to advise his fighter never to embarass me in this fight. I will give him his last chance to redeem himself," he said.
Of the three, it will be Laurente and Villanueva who will be closely watched in their fights in Las Vegas.
Laurente, who has won all of his fights since he was given a break by Pacquiao in the US, is considered a late bloomer. At 34, he is considered old for a title break.
Pacquiao realizes this and has promised the Cebuano fighter that if he wins on Nov. 12, he will be given the chance to fight for the world title.
Villanueva, a product of the grassroots boxing program which I started when I was Governor of North Cotabato from 1998 to 2007, will go through a lithmus test to determine whether he has what it takes to back up his impressive boxing record of 21 wins and 20 knockouts, which so far no other Filipino boxer, including Pacquiao, has posted.
Fighting in a foreign land and under the big spotlight in Las Vegas, his Nov. 12 outing will be an opportunity for boxing fans to dissect Villanueva, a shy fighter from the marshlands of Midsayap in North Cotabato.
Villanueva, however, is fortunate to have earned the fondness of Pacquiao who has taken time out to share with the young boxer from North Cotabato the secrets behind his strength and speed.
Added to that is the support that he will get from trainer Roach and physical conditioner Ariza, both considered the best in their respective fields in the world of boxing.
Villanueva is starting to show his new trainer that he could stand toe to toe with the best when he sparred against two-time world champion Jorge Linarez of Venezuela who will fight for the world lightweight title on Oct. 15 in California and who is in the Philippines to spar with Pacquiao.
Unmindful of the fact that he was sparring with one of the world's best in the lightweight division, which is heavier by 10 pounds than the featherweight division where he belongs, Villanueva took everything that Linarez dished out and pummelled the Venezuelan with tremendous body shots in their 2-round sparring.
Linarez sparred with Laurente and Pacquiao before they asked Lorenzo to spar with the Venezuelan lightweight for two rounds to complete the 10-round sparring session.
If these three fighters prove themselves on Nov. 12, the gates of a new horizon in their boxing career will be opened wide for them, courtesy of the greatest Filipino fighter ever, Manny Pacquiao.
Photo: Lorenzo Villanueva (R) spars with Jorge Linares at the Shape-Up Gym in Baguio City.
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