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Forgotten world champ


PhilBoxing.com



Rene Cuarto.

There are four reigning Filipino world boxing champions----WBC featherweight king Mark Magsayo, WBC bantamweight ruler Nonito Donaire, Jr., WBO bantamweight titlist JohnRiel Casimero and IBF minimumweight beltholder Rene Mark Cuarto. Boxing fans are familiar with Magnifico, Donaire and Casimero but who’s Cuarto?

The forgotten Pinoy world champ is 25, from Zamboanga del Norte and stands 5-2. He wrested the IBF 105-pound diadem from countryman Pedro Taduran on a close unanimous 12-round decision in February last year then won in a rematch to book his first defense, scoring two knockdowns before claiming a majority technical verdict in the seventh round. Cuarto is set to make his second defense of the crown against Mexican Daniel Valladares in Monterrey on May 27.

Cuarto’s trainer is Nonoy Neri who has worked the corners of Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Casimero. Neri said his most memorable fights were Casimero’s KO over Zolani Tete and Pacquiao’s disposal of Oscar de la Hoya. “May injury si Casimero sa training at one month, ‘di siya nag-sparring pero tinago namin yung nangyari,” he said. “Takot ako sa laban kasi ‘di 100 percent si Casimero pero sabi ko, puruhan mo lang si Tete at babagsak siya. ‘Yan ang nangyari. Si De la Hoya, kagalingan niya. Si Manny, umakyat ng timbang from 135. Takot ako baka matalo si Manny pero siya pa rin ang nanalo.”

Cuarto, who is married with a five-year-old kid, said he’s fighting to secure his family’s future. He’s fought once abroad, scoring a KO in China but in his second overseas outing, he’s not afraid to engage Valladares in his hometown. “Dapat nanalo si Taduran kay Valladares at ginawa nilang technical draw,” he said. “Kung tinalo ko si Taduran ng dalawang beses, tingin ko kaya si Valladares.”

Neri said he’s confident Cuarto will bring back the belt. He’ll be joined in Mexico by his assistant trainer Vincent Dayaganon. Cuarto said Valladares’ style is tailor made for him. “Sugod siya ng sugod kaya swak na swak sa akin,” he said. “Hangga’t kaya ko, patutulugin ko siya. Ibibigay ko ang lahat.”

Neri said he discovered Cuarto as an amateur in Digos in 2013 and brought him over to train at the MP Gym in Davao City. “Maganda ang basics ni Mark, may lakas, bilis, matapang,” he said. “Ang payo ni Senator sa kaniya ay dapat buo ang loob, maliit siya kaya kailangan mabilis, magalaw ang paa, magandang timing sa counter.” Neri has lined up several sparmates for Cuarto at the MP Gym where Jerwin Ancajas, Marlon Tapales and Aston Palicte used to train. Cuarto’s sparmates are Orlie Silvestre, Lienard Sarcon and Ruben Dadivas.


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


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