Philippines, 01 Dec 2020
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Pinoy pugs in demand

John Vincent Moralde sees action this Thursday in Las Vegas.

More and more Filipino fighters are being lined up for fights in the US but WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero is still waiting for a date when to battle super WBA/IBF titlist Naoya Inoue while staying in shape in Las Vegas. For sure, once travel restrictions ease up, Inoue will make his way from Tokyo to Las Vegas and keep his appointment with Casimero. Inoue is Top Rank’s new darling and Bob Arum is eager to test the Japanese against the hard-hitting “monster hunter” from Ormoc. Until then, Casimero has to be a little more patient and keep focused because it’s likely the big fight will happen before the year ends.

Another Filipino waiting in Las Vegas is Nonito Donaire, Jr. who’s penciled to face WBC bantamweight ruler Nordine Oubaali of France. The fight will be held somewhere in the US, maybe in Las Vegas, maybe in California and Ringstar Sports CEO Richard Schaefer expects it to unravel in late September or October. Donaire lives in Las Vegas with his family so he’s home away from home. It’s different with Casimero because he lives in the Philippines although he’s with his brother Jason and Filipino trainer Ting Ariosa staying in a comfortable house with all provisions paid for by MP Promotions. Coping with the pandemic has been difficult for everyone and Casimero just has to realize overcoming homesickness is a sacrifice that will be worth it in the end.

Because Casimero and Donaire are facing opponents based outside the US, they’re playing the waiting game. Meanwhile, Filipino fighters now in the US are getting a fair share of the action. Superbantamweight Mike Plania got the Filipino bandwagon rolling with an upset win over Joshua Greer at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas last June 16. Luckily, Plania and four other SanMan fighters were brought by J. C. Manangquil to train in Cuban Moro Fernandez’ gym in Miami early this year so they were available when boxing was restarted in Las Vegas. Plania recently returned home and is now in General Santos City. He landed in Cebu, was swab-tested, quarantined in a hotel and got the green light to fly home.

Another SanMan fighter Mark Bernaldez wasn’t as lucky as Plania. In Las Vegas last July 2, Bernaldez was shut out by Albert Bell, who stood six inches taller, and lost by a unanimous decision. “Mark just couldn’t adjust and deal with the height advantage,” said Manangquil. “Mark’s not really a pressure fighter. He’s a counter-puncher and a boxer kaya ‘di siya naka-deal sa style.” Bernaldez will remain in the US to train. A third SanMan fighter John Vincent Moralde takes his act to Las Vegas on Thursday when he meets Mexico’s Alexis del Bosque. Moralde, 26, has won twice in five US outings and is coming off back-to-back first round KO wins, the last over Matias Arriagada of Argentina in Miami last December. Del Bosque is a 6-footer like Bell.

Manangquil’s prime protégé Reymart Gaballo was supposed to fight former world champion Juan Carlos Payano on July 18 but the date has been moved to Aug. 1 with Connecticut as a tentative site. Payano, a Dominican Republic veteran known as “Baby Pacquiao,” dealt Plania his only loss and will be a test for Gaballo whose record is 23-0, with 20 KOs. Gaballo is the WBA’s No. 1 ranked bantamweight.

A Filipino too much in demand in Las Vegas is welterweight Reymond Yanong who beat Clay Burns on a split six-round decision last June 25 and was knocked out by Genaro Gamez in one round 12 days later. GAB boxing chief Dr. Jesucito Garcia issued a memo last July 10 citing Yanong for fighting overseas without GAB clearance and for violating GAB’s safety procedures by engaging in two bouts only 12 days apart. Under GAB rules, there is a mandatory rest period of at least 30 days in between fights. Yanong, 26, has a record of 11-6-1, with 9 KOs.

Another Filipino fighter in the US is featherweight Mark John Yap who is scheduled to battle Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga on the same card as Moralde this Thursday. Yap, 31, compiled a 12-5 record in Japan from 2012 to 2018 and has lost his last two fights in Las Vegas, both on points. The former OPBF bantamweight king is a huge underdog against Marriaga, a three-time world title challenger. Unbeaten Filipino lightweight John Dato was set to engage Angel Luna of the Dominican Republic in Sta. Ynez, California, last Friday but it was apparently cancelled since no result was reported. Dato migrated to the US when he was seven and lives in Santa Maria, California. Filipino featherweight Mark Magsayo recently landed in Los Angeles from Manila and expects to see action in September with two or three fights on the table before going for the world title.

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

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