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Are We Ready For All-Filipino World Boxing Title Fights? (First of a Series: Notable Filipino Ring Rivalries)


PhilBoxing.com




As practically, a boxing fan and student of the so-called sweet science since my grade school days back in the early 60s, I am sometimes flummoxed by the vacillating attitude of many Filipino boxing fans and supporters to all Pinoy fights especially with the world title at stake since the turn of the new millennium.

It could be generation gap but perhaps, the younger fans or those who have been only lured to following boxing in the recent years because of the unprecedented success of Manny Pacquiao, could have been largely influenced and "spoiled" by the fighting Senator's ring exploits invariably against foreign oppositions for much of the past more than two decades.

But people seem to forget that Manny himself earlier on had to pass through a gauntlet of tough fellow Pinoy fighters like Rustico Torrecampo and Melvin Magramo at flyweight and Reynante Jamili and Arnel Barotillo before he could sally forth towards his now legendary ring exploits in overseas arenas.

I have no doubt that had there been other Pinoy world class ringsters on his way to claiming an unprecedented eight world championships in as many weight divisions, Manny would have without qualms, took on and beat them, too. But sadly, at those times, there were none.

Most Pinoy boxing fans therefore have been fixated on Filipino fighters making their marks and winning world titles, honors and acclaim exclusively at the expense of foreign fighters.

But that has not always been the case. Particularly in the days when there was just one, at most two world boxing sanctioning bodies, the WBA and WBC, dispensing recognition as world champions in then just almost half of the now 17 weight classes.

That was the day when being Philippine national champion and holding regional belts as those recognized by the Oriental, later Orient Pacific Boxing Federation (OBF/OPBF) still had premium value and were key themselves to the opportunity to fight for the world championship.

Given the very tight nature of competition, Filipino fighters of that time were figuratively ready to eat their own guts and smash through literal stablemates, even close friends and of course, against kababayan coming from rival gyms, to progress upwards towards the realization of their biggest dreams.

This in the process, engendered local fistic rivalries that boxing fans of the period only lapped up enthusiastically and fervently that at times drew comparison with the bustling star competitions in the local show business scene.

I was too young to have witnessed the sanguine rivalries between noted post war antagonists as Dommy Ursua, Al Asuncion, Tirso del Rosario, Danny Kid and Tanny Campo as well as Flash Elorde and Tommy Romulo.

But in the 60s, I was old enough though still very young, to have been acutely aware of the struggle for supremacy between Rene Barrientos and Young Terror, Barrientos and Elorde, Barrientos and Pedro Adigue, Tiny Palacio and Baby Lorona and among the bitter trio of Ric Magramo, Erbito Salavarria and Bernabe Villacampo, many of whom would go on to win world boxing titles against foreign foes.

The 70s would feature less prominent local rivalries, the most notable that of Rey Tam and Nene Jun at super featherweight and Rolando Navarette against Fernando Cabanela at bantamweight and later versus Tam, Nene Jun and Johnny Sato all at super featherweight, as Pinoy boxing fans would be glued mainly on the exploits of one Muhammad Ali who would dominate the decade following his comeback to boxing.

But the 80s notwithstanding the hugely popular bouts involving the Four Kings namely Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran as well as heavyweight greats Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson would also see several local standoffs including Frank Cedeno and William Develos at flyweight, Bobby Berna and Develos at bantamweight, Jongjong Pacquing and Amy Pacana at lightweight and later versus Allan Alegria and Rod Sequeñan at super lightweight, Luisito Espinosa versus Loremer Pontino and later Gerry Peñalosa and Samuel Duran at bantamweight where Cedeno, Berna, Espinosa and Peñalosa later would win world boxing titles.

The 90s were well alive with Pacquiao making a name for himself fighting in a popular nationally televised boxing series, Blow by Blow against local beakbusters priming him up for his conquest of the Philippine, OPBF and eventually the WBC world flyweight titles before the decade was over.

Then, the new millennium came with both top local boxing promoters and boxers looking more toward overseas fights rather than or without building their brands and names through the good old formula of local fistic rivalries.

That has been the situation since.

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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