DENVER CUELLO DEBACLE: COURAGE OR FOLLY?
By Manny Piñol
30 Jun 2013
I knew even before Cuello and his manager, Aljoe Jaro, left for Dubai a week before the world title fight that the boxer from Iloilo Province was bothered by a shoulder injury.
My boxers who trained with Cuello in Jaro's gymnasium in Binangonan, Rizal told me that the Filipino challenger suffered the injury in his previous fights and that it had worsened during the preparation for the Zhong fight.
Jaro, who also handles some of my boxers, mentioned it to me and sports broadcaster Chino Trinidad shared the problem with me two days before the fight.
But I never realized how serious the injury was until I viewed the video of the fight which was posted in youtube.com.
I felt sick watching the fight.
Cuello fought Zhong with only his left hand and it was a handicap which even Manny Pacquiao would not be willing to give even in a fight with a smaller Brian Viloria.
Definitely, Zhong is not in the league of Cuello. A two-handed Denver could have easily demolished the Chinese champion within four rounds.
The injury I was told was a shoulder rotator cuff tear, a painful injury that prevented Cuello from even raising his right arm to defend himself.
I know Denver and his intensity as a fighter because when he was younger he fought one of my fighters, Tommy Terado, who went on to finish college and is now a professional.
(That fight was so intense that in the furious exchange, the referee Abdul Maradjan was hit by a wayward punch from Terado and was "TKOd" and had to replaced.)
But there was no way I would have taken that fight against Zhong with that injury even if my fighter were as good as Cuello.
Was it out of sheer courage that Aljoe and Denver took the fight even with the reality that the injury could worsen during the bout and prevent Cuello from using his right hand?
Or was it plain and simple folly and overconfidence on the part of Team Cuello?
I have not talked to Aljoe yet since the fight but I am almost certain he will justify the decision by saying that Cuello had to take the fight or else they will not get the chance of fighting for the world title.
This is the predicament that confronts Filipino boxing men because aside from ALA Boxing Promotions which has established itself as the biggest boxing promotions outfit in the country, other small Filipino boxing promoters and managers have to rely to the fights offered to them to get their boxers a chance to have a crack at the world title.
This is precisely the reason why many Filipino boxers take on big fights in hostile territories unprepared and in short notice because that is that only chance they will have.
From time to time, Filipino boxers, out of sheer talent and courage, do get lucky and win boxing titles in faraway and hostile lands but this does not happen very often.
In the case of Denver Cuello, it was out of sheer courage and the desire to become champion that made him and his manager take on the fight even with the injury.
The problem is that not many people realize that in between sheer courage and plain folly there is an often misunderstood word which is spelled P-R-U-D-E-N-C-E.
Photo credit: Photo credit: Photo of Zhong-Cuello fight downloaded from sport_360.com.
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