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List of Articles by Manny Piñol


 

Great Fights At The Heights

By Manny Piñol
PhilBoxing.com
09 Apr 2012


Lorenzo Villanueva.
Decades ago, I and my Baguio city boxing friend Raffy Panagan started a series of boxing events titled "Great Fights At the Heights" which featured prospective highlands boxers in bouts against fighters from the plains.

My involvement in the boxing series ended when I went back home to my roots in the South following my unexpected entry into politics in 1995.

Little did I know that Raffy, on his own, actually continued to stage the boxing series just to keep the flames of the sport burning in the Summer Capital of the country.

On April 28, I will be involved again in the staging of another "Great Fights At the Heights."

This time, the event will feature the young boys from Central Mindanao who belong to the Braveheart Boxing Club which I and my brothers have managed and nurtured since 1998. They will go up against the fighters under Baguio City boxing man Brico Santig who has been making a name for himself as the connection of Philippine boxing to Thailand boxing promoters.

The decision to bring up nine boxers to Baguio City to appear in the fight card end of this month was actually a result of the tedious preparation of one of the country's top boxing prospects, Lorenzo Villanueva who is one of the Braveheart boxers, for a world championship fight in Singapore on May 5.

Villanueva, 26, who is going up against Indonesia's Daud Cino Yordan for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) featherweight title at the Marina Bay Sands Resort next month, moved up to Baguio City middle of March along with three sparring partners to undertake a high altitude training and rendezvous with his American trainer, Freddie Roach, who will be joining British fighter Amir Khan in the City of Pines.

Khan is preparing for his return bout with Lamont Peterson and has chosen to train in the Philippines. He is joined by physical conditioning coach Alex Ariza.

Villanueva's three sparring partners - Ronnie Apilado, Rolando Magbanua and Rey Juntilla - were actually supposed to appear in a small card in Kidapawan City on April 21. But that would mean they will leave Villanueva in Baguio City alone with no sparring partners.

So Raffy and I decided to hold the boxing event instead in Baguio City on April 28.

Aside from Apilado, Magbanua and Juntilla, Baguio City boxing fans will also be able to get a glimpse of the other Braveheart boxers like former world silver flyweight champion Edrin "The Sting" Dapudong, flyweight Ryan Rae Ponteras, bantamweight Joemer Lumacad, 5' 7", and the three Towers of Power of the Braveheart Boxing Club - lightweight Louie Yonting, 21, who stands 5' 9" and has a record of 4 wins with 2 KOs; junior lightweight Rugen Mamayog, 20, 5' 9 1/2" and is 2 wins 2 KOs and 17-year-old lightweight Roskie Cristobal who stands 5' 10" and still growing and who has knocked out his two opponents as a pro both in the first round.

All of these boxers, except for Dapudong who has already fought three times in Mexico winning once and losing twice, are largely unknown having fought only in Mindanao.

But while these young fighters have been seeing action under the radar, I believe that most of them have the potential of making it big someday.

None of them is over 27 years old. The oldest in the group would be Villanueva who will turn 27 this coming November. If Villanueva wins the IBO title next month, he will become the first world boxing champion from North Cotabato and the first product of the grassroots boxing program I started in 1998 as Governor of the province to break into the big league.

The other Braveheart boxer who is just waiting for the right time and the favorable circumstances to make it big would be 26-year-old Edrin "Dapudong." Although he already has four losses in his career, Dapudong slowly matures as a thinking fighter and I will not be surprised if in the next big fight that would come his way, he will win a world championship.

Ryan Rae Ponteras is another fighter worth watching. While he does not come from North Cotabato (he is from Agusan del Sur), Ponteras was taken in by Braveheart Boxing Club mainly because I and my brothers pitied him. Mismanaged and left alone to fend for himself, Ponteras was the "made to order" opponent for other rising boxers. He could fight as a junior flyweight or a bantamweight depending on the requirements of the promoter.

When I and my brothers decided to take him in, he had a record of 9 wins and 9 losses but we felt he had the inherent talent and the heart to make it big if only given the proper care and support.

Since joining Braveheart Boxing Club last year, Ponteras has already scored three straight victories, all by knockout.

Of the nine fighters who will appear in April 28 card in Baguio City, four young boxers are worth watching. They are bantamweight Joemer Lumacad, 18, featherweight Rugen Mamayog, 20, lightweight Louie Yonting, 21 and 17-year-old Roskie Cristobal, a southpaw who moves quick for his 136 lb. frame and who I believe could move up to the welterweight division in two years time.

Having been involved with professional boxing as a promoter, manager, writer and ringside commentator, I can, in all modesty, say that I could spot a diamond in the rough and I see these four young boys as potential stars.

On April 28, hopefully with Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach and physical conditioning coach Alex Ariza at ringside, my assessment on the potentials of these four young fighters could be validated.

The "Great Fights at the Heights" in Baguio City on April 28 could also be a night of discovery for Philippine boxing's newest talents.


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