GETTING TO KNOW CHRISTIAN ARANETA
By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
13 Jun 2017
CEBU – He is not yet used to answering questions from the press or speaking to the fans in public with a microphone in his hand, but make no mistake, Christian Araneta can fight.
The 22 year old Araneta (14W-0L,12KO’s) turned pro in 2013 without any fanfare. He would fight in small towns in Cebu and in cities of Mindanao away from the television cameras. But the real die-hard boxing fans began to notice his aggressiveness, punching power and uncanny ability to recuperate.
“I started boxing as an amateur when I was 14 years old,” Araneta told this writer in an interview at Robinson’s Galleria in Cebu City after a public workout held by the Omega Gym boxers.
“I did not win a national championship. Just a medal when Omega amateur fights. I did not want to stay long as an amateur. We are poor and I wanted to help my family.”
He does not come from a boxing family and he is the only one of the five siblings drawn to boxing. Even his slightly shorter left leg did not stop him from pursuing his dream of fighting as a professional.
“I did not really think about my leg while growing up.” He said, “I always thought the length would get even when I grew and got older.”
Araneta was born in Borbon, Cebu. His parental roots can be traced to Bogo, Cebu, a place that holds a special spot in the hearts of Filipino boxing fans for being the birthplace of one of the greatest Filipino boxers of all time, Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde.
“I was not really good in school, so I decided to continue boxing.” He said. “I cannot think of anything else that I would rather do.”
Even when pressed with the hypothetical question of what job would he pursue if given the chance to go to college, Araneta replied, “I can’t think of doing anything else except boxing.”
He names Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and John Riel Casimero as his favorite boxers.
“I like Pacquiao’s fast hands, Donaire’s counterpunching and Casimero’s power and ability to study an opponent.”
He is listed at 5’4”, but just like every Filipino, he tried basketball. “I wasn’t good at it. I am better at boxing.” In his spare time, he also dabbles in karaoke.
Araneta is still single and hopes to win a world title someday. “I want to earn money and help my parents. I want to become a world champion. Someday, I want to fight the WBO champion in my division, Kosei Tanaka.”
The southpaw Araneta won the WBO Oriental light flyweight title last March by knocking out Indonesian Demsi Manufoe in one round at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.
But it was his upset victory against Jesse Espinas of Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental in 2015 that ignited his career.
Espinas at that time was 11-1 and the favored fighter. Araneta was 9-0, a relative unknown but ambushed Espinas and scored an eighth round TKO.
Espinas would go on and win five straight fights and regional belts and go back up the world rankings. Araneta has won four straight setting up the stage for a rematch this July 7 in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
The 24 year old Espinas (16-2,11KO’s) is ranked higher by the WBO at number five while Araneta is at number seven in the world rankings. This makes the fight more crucial than their first encounter.
Araneta vs Espinas will be one of the two WBO regional bouts held at the Island City Mall of Tagbilaran. The flagship of the Omega gym, Jhack Tepora (20-0,15KO’s), will defend his WBO Oriental junior featherweight title belt against Emmanuel Dominguez (21-5-2, 13KO’s) of Mexico.
Araneta, who sports the ring moniker “The Bomb”, will have to draw on his extraordinary ability to recover from being hurt when he faces Espinas in what is expected to be a slam-bang affair.
Fans last saw this in Mandaue City last December when Araneta was behind on the scorecards after six round against Philip Luis Cuerdo. He seemed to be on the verge of being knocked out but somehow but found it within himself to recover his senses and stop Cuerdo in round seven.
Christian Araneta (L) sits down with the author during the public sparring of the "Who's Next 5?" boxers at the Robinson's Galleria in Cebu City Monday.
“I can’t explain how I can recover from being groggy. All I know is my conditioning is always good when I fight, and I try my best to win.” Araneta said. He credits trainer Pingping Tepora for his continuing growth.
“I still need to improve, especially in my footwork and lateral movement.” He said.
Araneta did not join his stablemates during the public sparring sessions but he spoke inside the ring and invited the fans who are from Bohol and those who plan to visit the neighboring island to watch the July 7 fight card.
This will be the fifth edition of the “WHO’S NEXT?” Pro boxing series. Omega Pro Sports,International (OPSI) President Pio Paulo Castillo told this writer that this is one of those fight cards where you cannot predict the outcome of the two main bouts. But this will truly test at what level their boxers are at this stage of their careers.
It seems the unbeaten Araneta will have to prove himself all over again. Even with a previous victory against Espinas, boxing pundits here in Cebu still look at it as a 50-50 fight.
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