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The Enduring Influence of Flash Elorde and Manny Pacquiao (Part 2)


PhilBoxing.com





Elorde's Influence Extends Through 90s

Though the Philippines managed to produce world boxing champions in the next three decades through the 1990s, Flash Elorde remained as paragon for generations of local fighters and his seven year title reign as gold standard for Filipino boxers who won world championships.

The reasons were plain to see.

Da Flash was considered as one of the best boxers in the world at the height of his championship reign in the 60s in the exclusive company of Cassius Clay/ Muhammad Ali, Emile Griffith, Carlos Ortiz and Fighting Harada which became a source of pride for the Filipinos of the time.

Elorde even transformed his idol status to that of a virtual cultural icon by his cameo role guesting appearances in some smash hit action movies starring another budding icon of the time, Fernando Poe, Jr. He even was featured in a Poe movie with another sport hero of the 60s, Anthony Villanueva, boxing silver medalist in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The people's respect and adulation of Elorde even extended beyond his defeat to Yoshiaki Numata in 1967 and his forced retirement some years later as he starred in some of the epic commercials of San Miguel Corporation in the 70s which instantly clicked especially with the masses. Phrases from those ads as "isang platitong mani" and "huwag namang bara bara, bay" became common expressions among the beer drinking community.


Flash Elorde drops Harold Gomes.

His untimely death in 1981 only served to immortalize his boxing legacy which continued to provide inspiration to many Filipino fighters of the time and even succeeding generations.

Two of the fighters who became world champions in the 70s and 80s were both lefties and fought in the same division he fought and excelled in. They were Ben Villaflor and Rolando Navarette who followed Elorde's route to the world championship by fighting abroad, particularly in the USA.

Villaflor won the WBC junior lightweight championship in April 1972 by outpointing Alfredo Marcano of Venezuela. He momentarily lost the title to Kuniaki Shibata on points in March 1973 but regained it by a spectacular one punch first round knockout later the same year. He remained champion making nine successful defenses until 1976 when he lost his title to Carlos Ortiz countryman, Samuel Serrano in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Navarette, like Elorde, barnstormed the US ring where he gained fan following as well as world rating which put him in good position when opportunity knocks which came in 1981. That was when he as a late substitute challenged WBC junior lightweight champion Cornelius Boza Edwards of UK via Uganda and won by a rousing 4th round knockout.

But unlike Elorde who was mature and very gentlemanly, Lando allowed his immaturity and streetwise ways to get the better of him earning him the moniker, Bad Boy from Dadiangas and put him at odds with the society and the authorities. After one successful title defense against a Korean early in 1982 he lost his title by late round knockout to Mexico's Rafael Bazooka Limon later the same year. He later served a prison sentence for rape in Hawaii.

Elorde's influence extended to the 90s through another deadly lefty in the person of Luisito Espinosa whose father Dio was Da Flash's contemporary in the 60s. Like Elorde, Luwi started out as a bantamweight and later moved to the featherweights where he made a big difference. He succeeded where Elorde and other Pinoy fighters after Elorde failed, officially becoming the first Filipino to win world championship in those erstwhile known as waterloo divisions for Pinoy fighters.

Espinosa wrested the WBA bantamweight crown via shock knockout of Thailand's Khaokor Galaxy in Bangkok on October 18, 1989 earning him his alias as Lindol or Earthquake. He would successfully defend the title twice. Weight drained, he lost the title by late round stoppage to Mexico's Israel Contreras in Quezon City two years after in 1991.

After a lengthy roller coaster stint at junior featherweight, he eventually moved to the featherweights and won the WBC title by decisioning many time champion Manuel Medina in Tokyo on December 11, 1995. He would establish a record for longest reign after Elorde, holding the title for the next four years making seven successful defenses before losing to old rival Cesar Soto on points on May 15, 1999.

Near the end of Espinosa's championship career, Elorde's legacy was already a fading memory especially among the younger generations of boxers and fans.

That was when a young fighter from Mindanao was starting to make a name for himself and a lot of fans to sit up and seriously .take notice by winning a world title at flyweight earlier in December 1998 against a Thai legend in an open air arena in provincial Thailand.

His name is Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao or simply Manny Pacquiao.

To be continued...

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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