Our Continuing Malaise at Flyweight: Who Will Finally End the Title Drought? (Third and Last Part)
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Tue, 22 Mar 2022
Giemel Magramo (L) and Genesis Libranza (R) are the country's top hopes at the flyweight division.
Where have all our finest flyweight fighters gone?
Obviously in the higher weights.
Ex world flyweight titlists Johnriel Casimero and Donnie Nietes are fighting at bantamweight and super flyweight respectively. Johnriel even made his farewell bout by stopping Charlie Edwards, brother of the current IBF champion Sunny Edwards. Had it been Johnriel and not Jason Mama who faced Sunny.... But that's wishful thinking.
Alas, the country's newest boxing hope, Jade Bornea is also fighting at super flyweight. But who knows? Given the chance, he may still shed a few pounds to vie for a world title at flyweight as Nonito Donaire did back in 2007.
1. GIEMEL MAGRAMO
Realistically though, our best bet at 112 lbs is still Giemel Magramo. Currently the country's number one flyweight per Boxrec; Giemel gave justice to this billing by wresting the Orient Pacific Boxing Federation flyweight title from fellow Pinoy Jayr Raquinel late last year.
Raquinel has been a fixture in the world ratings like Magramo till to date and has been beaten only once before abroad and possesses a credible and creditable record hence Giemel beating him is a big deal.
Magramo's own credentials took a hit when in November 2020, he fought and lost by TKO to Junto Nakatani for the then vacant WBO flyweight crown in Japan after months of go-stop-go waiting on account of the uncertain pandemic status in that country.
As a result of this and the very strict quarantine and other pandemic protocols of the Japanese authorities that prevented outdoor training activities, Giemel's preparations suffered. And it showed in his condition and performance during the fight held in winter yet as Nakatani dominated a Magramo who was virtually just a shadow of himself.
Magramo's debacle then prompted Promoter Bob Arum to frown upon his ace ward Naoya Inoue's plan to hold a title defense in Japan saying that it would be impossible for a visiting fighter to win in the country.
Given these therefore, the chance and prospects of Giemel vying again for a world title in the flyweight remains bright, even against his former tormentor Nakatani but not in pandemic stricken Japan though.
Per latest boxing ratings, Magramo is listed by WBC at #9 and by the WBO at #10 which is expected to improve with his win over Raquinel. Giemel totes a record of 25 wins, 20 by KOs against 2 losses. His only other loss was on controversial points decision to world rated Pakistani Wassem Muhammad in 2016.
2. GENESIS LIBRANZA
Though listed by Boxrec as inactive having last fought in early 2021 yet, Genesis Libranza remains in the world ranking with IBF having him at #5, the WBO at #8 and WBC at #12.
According to his wiki record, Libranza made his professional debut against Jhonny Belo on 8 February 2014. He won the fight by unanimous decision. Libranza amassed an 11–0 record during the next three years, with eight of those victories coming by way of stoppage.
This undefeated streak earned Libranza the right to challenge the reigning IBO flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane on 28 April 2017. He suffered both his first professional loss, as well as his first stoppage loss, as Mthalane won the fight by a fourth-round knockout.
Libranza faced Romulo Ramayan Jr. for the MiniProBA title on 24 July 2017. He won the fight by a first-round technical knockout. Referee Ramuel Ovalo waved the fight off at the 2:35 minute mark, after Ramayan Jr. turned his back to his opponent, following a flurry of punches from Libranza.
Libranza faced Yujie Zeng on 29 September 2017. He won the fight by unanimous decision, with scores of 79–73, 78–74 and 80–72. Libranza faced Michael Enriquez on 17 December 2017. He won the fight by majority decision, with judges scoring the fight 98–92 for him, while the third judge scored it as an even 95–95 draw.
Libranza challenged Ryan Rey Ponteras for the PGA flyweight title on 14 April 2018. He won the fight by split decision, with two judges scoring the fight 115–113 and 117–112 for Libranza, while the third judge scored it 116–112 for Ponteras. Libranza made his first title defense against Renz Rosia on 14 October 2018. He won the fight by unanimous decision, with scores of 116–111, 115–112 and 114–113. Rosia was deducted a point in the fifth round for repeated low blows.
Libranza made his United States debut against Gilberto Mendoza on 9 February 2019, as the fight took place at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. He won the fight by unanimous decision, with all three judges awarding Libranza a 78–74 scorecard. Libranza had his second consecutive United States fight on 20 July 2019, when he was scheduled to face Carlos Maldonado. He won the fight by a fourth-round technical knockout.
Libranza was expected to challenge the reigning WBO Oriental Bantamweight champion Vincent Astrolabio on 27 February 2021, following a 15-month absence from the sport. Astrolabio later withdrew from the bout for undisclosed reasons, and was replaced by John Mark Apolinario. He won the fight by a first-round knockout.
Born in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur and now residing in Davao City, Libranza carries an impressive record of 20 wins including 12 by knockouts against only one loss to then very prime Mthalane.
Let us hope Libranza fight actively and more regularly again this year.
3. DAVE APOLINARIO
Listed number 2 in the Philippines behind Giemel Magramo by Boxrec is a young fighter born in Maasin, Sarangani named Dave Apllinario, also known as Doberman.
Apolinario made his professional debut on 10 June 2017, defeating fellow Filipino boxer Prince Canonero via first-round technical knockout (TKO).
Since then, Apolinario has strung up numerous straight wins, mostly by knockouts against fellow Pinoys gaining him the vacant WBC ABCO Youth title.
On 9 June 2019, Apolinario defeated Filipino compatriot, Adrian Lerasan winning a unanimous decision (UD) through ten rounds. Lerasan is now making waves as super flyweight.
Four months later, Apolinario defeated Arnold Garde via a knockout (KO) in the first round.
A couple of months later, Apolinario defeated Richard Rosales via a referee technical decision (RTD) in the fifth round.
After another short route win, Apolinario took on Charlie Malupangue and won the vacant WBA Asia flyweight title via fourth round TKO.
His latest outing last February saw him stopping Mike Kinaadman in the fifth round.
Apolinario now totes an unbeaten record of 16 wins, 15 via the short route.
Of course, this is not precluding the chances and prospects of other world class Filipino flyweights as Jayr Raquinel and Christian Bacolod despite their recent rare setbacks.
And hopefully, Jade Bornea consider the option of fighting and trying his luck a few pounds down.
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.
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