Philippines, 15 Dec 2018
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Windfall for Sonsona’s foe

Indonesian journeyman Arief Blader didn’t win a single round in losing a unanimous decision to former WBO superflyweight champion Marvelous Marvin Sonsona but pocketed a windfall of $2,700 as a consolation prize at the SM City North EDSA Skydome last Sunday.

Sonsona’s trainer Joven Jimenez offered a $200 bonus to Blader if he survived the six-round distance with Sonsona. The Indonesian's purse was $l,500 and he was given the $1,000 fine slapped on Sonsona for failing to make the weight. Blader had the option to back out from the bout since he scaled 138 pounds to Sonsona’s 147 but went ahead anyway. The incentive was too tempting to ignore. The weight limit for the fight was 141.

Two days before the weigh-in last Saturday, Sonsona walked around at 143 pounds. He had ballooned to 186 pounds and brought down his weight by over 40 pounds in only six weeks. Sonsona, 27, hadn’t fought in nearly three years. And during the layoff, he indulged in probably every vice imaginable. Sonsona couldn’t kick his drinking habit and went from bed to bed. When Sonsona showed up at Jimenez’ Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite, he promised to go straight. No more drinking, no more womanizing. Sonsona had nine children with nine different women but is now married to his long-time girlfriend Myra with whom he has two daughters Mara and Marian. Sonsona said he wants to become a world champion again for his family.

Jimenez said Sonsona could’ve made the weight if he ordered it. “Marvin was too drained,” said Jimenez in Pilipino. “I told him to forget about making 141 and regain his strength. He came in six pounds over the limit. That was already an achievement because he came down from 186. I paid his $1,000 fine and gave him his purse of P60,000 plus a small bonus for winning. He fought with 12-ounce gloves, a penalty for not making the weight, so that softened the impact of his punches.”

Sonsona displayed flashes of brilliance against Blader but it will take a lot more work in the gym to get him back on track. Sonsona was only 19 when he won the WBO 115-pound title in 2009. He lost the crown on the scales in his first defense then lost to Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. in a bid for the WBO superbantamweight belt a year later. Sonsona bounced back from the setback to Vazquez to win six consecutive fights, including a vengeful win over the Puerto Rican in a rematch at Madison Square Garden. But after his decision over Californian Jonathan Arellano in Carson City in 2015, Sonsona stayed away from the ring until he hooked up with Jimenez. The win over Blader was Sonsona’s seventh straight but his first in three years.

When Sonsona fought Blader, he must have weighed at least 160 pounds after rehydrating and eating his recovery food. Sonsona scaled 127 1/2 pounds for the Arellano fight and that should be his target weight for his next fight. It will mean working harder at Survival Camp and bringing down his weight to an optimal level. Jimenez said Sonsona has a lot of boxing years left but his future as a fighter will depend on how committed he is to a new lifestyle.

Another Indonesian fighter who picked up a $200 bonus from Jimenez was 38-year-old skinhead Master Suro. Jimenez offered the incentive to Suro if he went the full 10-round route with A. J. Banal in the same Skydome card. Suro’s regular purse was $1,500. “I wanted to test A. J.’s stamina which was his weakness before,” said Jimenez. “The plan was not to score an early knockout. So A. J. didn’t really pressure Suro. He picked his spots and was patient. I didn’t want him to take any chances. He paced himself and didn’t get tired in the end. A. J. will continue training at Survival to work on his combinations, timing and conditioning.”

Banal, 29, has now won his last eight outings. He took a two-year leave of absence from boxing then returned to action last December but was just a ghost of his old self in barely beating Jason Egera on a six-round split decision. Banal showed a better performance against Suro but is still far from regaining his old form when he was a world-rated contender as a superflyweight and bantamweight. Banal scaled 132 pounds for Suro and might consider going down to 122 to maximize his power as a superbantamweight.

Photo: Marvin Sonsona (L) and Indonesia's Arief Blader during Saturday's weighin. Photo by Carlos Costa.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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