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Second Overtime: In the name of ALA


PhilBoxing.com





CHICAGO -- My affinity for the Cebu-based ALA Boxing Club dates back to as far as 1993 when I still a newspaper reporter learning the curb and sorting out the thicket of sportswriting jargon.

The company patriarch, Antonio L. Aldeguer, is a dear friend, a man of integrity who turned his Talamban stable into an assembly line that routinely spits out world-class fighters atop the ring and solid citizens off of it.

Rooting for an ALA fighter is as easy as inhaling a whiff of fresh air.

I find myself in that familiar spot right now as I hope and pray that Jeo "Santino" Santisima in successful in his attempt to wrest the WBO super bantamweight title from Emanuel Navarrete of Mexico.

This one, though, is fraught with danger.

The Mexican, who fancies himself as a "cowboy" is a murderous puncher with a felonious record of 30-1 with 26 knockouts. He is 25 years old, two older than the Filipino, and has 58 rounds more of experience.

Unlike Santisima, who fought only twice last year, the super busy, hyper active Navarrete logged four assignments including two fights in the span of three weeks. Among those last four assignments, no one stood standing to hear the final bell.

The violent notoriety has catapulted Navarrete into a heavy favorite. Bovada pegs him at minus 2250, which means a $2,250 bet on him will only earn a $100 profit.

Santisima, meanhwile, is a plus 950 underdog. If you wager $100 on him you will reap a $950 windfall.

All of the boxing beat writers here in the United States picked Navarrete to win retain his championship via stoppage. And that's no surprise given how the Mexican has left behind a bloody trail of vanquished fighters in his wake.

Santisima has been dismissed as an unknown who is fighting outside the Philippines for the first time. It will be crucial how he responds to the bright lights of Las Vegas and the prestige of fighting in the undercard of the heavyweight rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.


Navarrete and Santisima face to face in Las Vegas before today's fight.

The layers of pressure that has befallen on Santisima's shoulders do not bother ALA coach Edito Villamor, himself a world champion during his fistic heydays.

"We know Navarrete is a good fighter," Villamor told me a few hours ago. "But we trust Jeo's capabilities and we are confident he won't hesitate to trade punches."

I share the same trust and confidence. His record speaks for his truth, 19-2 with 16 KOs including a streak of 17 victories.

I may be blindly loyal but my eyes have also seen giant upsets in recent months, unlikely results where John Riel Casimero conquered Zolani Tete and Jhack Tepora falling to an unheralded foe.

If those upsets could happen, it could happen to Jeo's favor as well.

Who knows, Jeo might sneak in a liver punch or catch the aggressive, advancing Mexican with a flush right to the jaw.

As great as Navarrete is, Santisima will meet his fire with fire, and the violence will be ferociously consensual.

May the best man win. And may that be Jeo "Santino" Santisima.



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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