Mandatory Flops: The Curious Case of Jongjong Pacquing
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Wed, 30 Sep 2020
Outspoken Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum was very livid after he saw on cable television at home in the US his British ward Josh Taylor's first round knockout of Thai mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong in defense of his IBF super lightweight championship in London last weekend.
Khongsong who was bidding to be the only second Thai after Saensak Muangsurin in the late 70s to win a world belt at 140, was counted out while writhing in pain from a Taylor body blow a few seconds before the end of the opening round.
Saying that such mandatory defense was just a "waste of time and money," including his own, Arum said the major world boxing sanctioning bodies must take a harder look at their rating systems that made possible for a clearly unproven Khongsong to vie for the world title as mandatory challenger.
Arum has been angling for a unification between WBA and IBF champion Taylor and his other ward, Mexican WBO and WBC titlist Jose Ramirez, but was held back by Taylor's mandatory defense against the Thai as had been ordered by the IBF which he now complained of as utter waste of time and money.
Josh Taylor takes a bow after knocking out Apinun Khongsong in London last Saturday, Sep. 6, 2020.
But some observers noted that Arum had also benefited from such mandatory defenses as in the case of his prime ward Terrence Crawford who has bolstered his record with wins over such unproven mandatory challengers as Dierry Jean and Felix Diaz at super lightweight and Jose Benavidez, Jr. and Edigijus Kavialauskas at welterweight.
This issue about the merit of fighters getting high ranking and their worthiness of being named as mandatory challengers particularly vis a vis prominent champions, brings to mind the curious case of Jongjong Pacquing who in 1989 found himself as top contender for the IBF super lightweight title then held by another Taylor, American ex Olympian Meldrick Taylor.
Pacquing though never got into the ring with Meldrick Taylor as he was surprisingly knocked out by fellow Pinoy Rod Sequenan in what was supposed to be as a preparatory tune up bout.
That in hindsight prevented a potential mismatch versus Meldrick Taylor not unlike the recent Josh Taylor-Apinun Khongsong that Arum decried as a disgrace.
Indeed, it was a wonder how Pacquing got to be rated number one contender by the IBF for sometime in 1989 despite his sketchy resume. At least Khongsong was undefeated before he met Josh Taylor.
Starting out in the pros as a featherweight in 1980, Pacquing toted a so so 29-9-1 win loss draw record by the late 1985 though it was marked by his winning and losing national and regional titles at lightweight.
Among his marked fighting losses was a close decision verdict to Japanese Tsuyoshi Hamada for the OPBF lightweight belt in 1985 in Tokyo. Hamada would later go on to win the WBC super lightweight title by upset knockout of Mexico's Rene Arredondo in Tokyo in 1986, defending it once against American Ronnie Shields and losing it back to Arredondo in 1987, retiring with a 17-2 record the same year.
After the Hamada fight, Pacquing would also lose to Australia's then undefeated prospect Dale Artago by TKO in Brisbane also in 1985.
But by the following year, 1986, Pacquing would go on a 12 fight undefeated streak which included lightweight title win over archrival Amy Pacana and a draw and a win over then top super lightweight Allan Alegria.
Somehow, Pacquing's winning skein took the notice of the then still fledgling IBF which included him in its rankings and later promoted him as its top contender.
It should be noted though that the super lightweights by 1989 was still in a state of disarray following the loss of Aaron Pryor who had served as the division's main stabilizing power through much of the 80s to cocaine
The IBF itself which recognized Pryor as its inaugural champion in 1985 had seen its title changed hands five times since, the latest to Meldrick Taylor who unseated Buddy McGirt in early 1989.
So the situation seemed fluid at that point despite Taylor's impressive undefeated credentials. Many observers felt the same way, too as the WBA and the WBC also continued its own merry go round of titlists.
People in the Pacquing camp also felt Jongjong had the chance to pull the rugs from under Meldrick especially following the American's pedestrian win in an initial title defense.
Two Pinoys had previously succeeded in winning world titles at 140, namely Roberto Cruz in 1963 and Pedro Adigue in 1969. (Two more Pinoys would bring home the bacon: Morris East in 1992, becoming the youngest Filipino world boxing champion at 19 years and one month old, and Manny Pacquiao in 2009 in winning the sixth of his world record eight division championships.)
But they thought a tune up was needed to fully prep up Pacquing in the meantime and they decided to pair him against a seasoned, fading but still serviceable Rod Sequenan.
Sequenan had indeed seen better days, fighting for and losing in his bid for the inaugural IBF super featherweight in 1983 against South Korea's Hwan Kil Yuh. He would lose as many major fights he would win in the succeeding years, including a first round stoppage to Lester Ellis in Australia. But he had enough in his tank to still trouble Allan Alegria in his latest losing fight.
That convinced the Pacquing camp to take Sequenan as a tuneup for Jongjong in his planned quest for the IBF world title. So the fight was set on June 16, 1989 in Cagayan de Oro City.
To his camp's horror, the unexpected happened: The aging Sequenan knocked out Pacquing in just three rounds!
Pfft went Pacquing's very lofty IBF rating in the immediate aftermath and with it his chance to fight Meldrick Taylor for the world title.
Pacquing would try to recover from the loss by beating Alegria for the Philippine super lightweight title in his next fight. But he would lose again to Sequenan in their rematch, this time by unanimous decision, proving that the first loss was no fluke.
There was a lesson to be learned here and in that latest episode that saw another mandatory flop in the highly rated Apinun Khongsong against Josh Taylor.
Bob Arum is right.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.
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