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Another chance for Randy


PhilBoxing.com



Petalcorin (R) weighed 107 lbs to Shiro's (L) 107.5 lbs during the weighin Sunday in Tokyo.

Randy Petalcorin blew a chance to win a world title in his home country when he was stopped by Nicaragua’s Felix Alvarado for the vacant IBF lightflyweight crown at the Midas Hotel on Roxas Boulevard last year. He bounced back to score two knockouts in a row then got a late call offering another crack at the throne, this time against WBC 108-pound titlist Ken Shiro of Japan.

Shiro was supposed to face Alvarado in a unification showdown but the Nicaraguan pulled out due to a reported lung illness last month. To save the fight, Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda looked for an available challenger and Petalcorin agreed to take on Shiro at short notice.

Petalcorin, ahead on one of three judges’ scorecards when he bowed to Alvarado, won’t make the same mistake of going toe-to-toe with Shiro. He engaged Alvarado and paid the price for the wrong strategy as the Nicaraguan used his superior firepower to notch three knockdowns enroute to the victory by stoppage. Against Shiro, Petalcorin will be smarter.

Shiro, 27, will make the seventh defense of his WBC belt at the Yokohama Arena tomorrow night. Petalcorin, 27, will be his fifth Filipino opponent. Shiro has beaten Filipinos Rolly Sumalpong, Lester Abutan, Milan Melindo and Jonathan Taconing. Melindo and Taconing lost by knockout in two of Shiro’s six successful defenses.

Petalcorin has never fought a Japanese and will make his Japan debut. But he’s no stranger to Japanese fighters or Japan. Last July, Petalcorin was in Japan to spar with WBO flyweight champion Kosei Tanaka. “I don’t think it will be an issue fighting in Japan,” said Australian Peter Maniatis who co-manages Petalcorin with J. C. Manangquil of General Santos City. “Randy has won thrice in Australia and twice in China so fighting on foreign soil isn’t a problem.”

Shiro has compiled a 16-0 record, with 9 KOs since turning pro in 2014. Petalcorin is a lot more experienced with a 31-3-1 record, including 23 KOs. His losses were to Marlon Tapales in 2010, Omari Kimweri on a disputed split decision in Australia in 2016 and Alvarado.

“What Randy learned from fighting Alvarado is not to get caught on the ropes and be a sitting target,” said Maniatis. “He plans to box and move. Alvarado is a forward, pressure, non-stop punching fighter with whom Randy allowed himself to be trapped far too much on the ropes and was hit with big body shots. Shiro is by far the best boxer in the lightflyweight division. He beat up Melindo and Taconing. With only four weeks notice and not a full training camp, we are rolling the dice. I think Randy will put up a very good fight with the right game plan. Randy’s strength is his fast hands and footwork. Randy is a southpaw and it will be a little harder for Shiro to counter.”

Maniatis said Petalcorin and chief trainer Jose Valendez have studied Shiro’s style and tendencies on tape. There will be no surprises in the ring. “Shiro is a great talent, a very good boxer with great power and punches hard to the body,” said Maniatis. “Shiro’s weakness is he sometimes drops his land hand and is open to an overhand counter punch.”

Petalcorin is ranked No. 12 by the WBC. The Davao City fighter wouldn’t have received another shot at the crown if not for Alvarado’s withdrawal so he owes the Nicaraguan who stopped him last year.

“Ever since I started boxing, I always wanted to fight the best fighter in the world for the WBC title,” said Petalcorin in Pilipino. “My dream will come true tomorrow when I fight Shiro.” Maniatis said Petalcorin ran up and down the General Santos City mountains twice a day like Manny Pacquiao does when he’s in training to get in shape for Shiro. Maniatis said it’s Petalcorin’s “Rocky” shot and the challenger is out to shock the world.


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


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