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Filipina Boxer Nearly Fought Underneath Pacquiao Mainer


PhilBoxing.com



Gretchen Abaniel (C) in one of her winning moments.

I It can now be told: a Filipino woman boxer nearly fought in a supporting world title bout underneath Manny Pacquiao's WBO welterweight crown defense against Jeff Horn in 2017 in Australia.

Gretchen Magbanua Ababiel, former women's boxing amateur standout and many time women's professional boxing world title holder and challenger now living in Australia, guested again via zoom this time in Radio Pilipinas (DWSR 918 khz) weekly boxing program hosted by Romuel Alarcon and this writer and made this revelation six years after.

By way of backgrounder, Gretchen in her first radio guesting sometime in 2017 after winning a world women's boxing title in Germany earlier, told of her plan to ask Pacquiao to include her in his next major fight as a way of further introducing and popularizing her sport especially among Filipinas.

Pacquiao's subsequent fight held in Australia where he was upset by Horn late that year came and went and we thought Gretchen failed to sell the idea to Manny and his promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.

We were mistaken.

In fact Manny and Arum liked and supported the idea inasmuch as Abaniel had been under an Austrslian management (Terry Mogg) and had been adopted by the country almost as its own since 2007. Her last of a slew of Aussie managers was Robeet Hill who also helped Charley Suarez gets fight in Ausralia.

But Gretchen said she herself did not pursue the plan after the WBO set as condition that she fights a Fil Ausrralian woman boxer whose name she couldn't now recall in a sanctioned title fight two weight classes above the minimumweight where she was canpaigning.

"It was truly sayang, sana man lang sana just one weight class above, laban tayo", Gretchen related. She knew that her health and safety was primordial especially in such deadly sport as boxing.

But little regret as Gretchen went on to fight in Germany where she would win the last of her world boxing title against a German adopted Turkish fighter.

Her career would go in a tailspin not long after as age caught up with her and the combined pressure and demand of married life and as an emigree took their toll on her boxing profession.

She nevertheless still figured in at least three more
world title fights which she would all lose,;including to then upcoming Mexican women's boxing star Seniesta Estrada. But one loss she finds galling to this day when she dropped a split decision to a Japanese fighter in Japan with the Filpino judge scoring in favor of her foe!

But then Gretchen still consider herself very lucky for having been supported by her mayor, Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn in her amateur boxing stint that saw her won the bronze in the 2005 Podlosk World Women's Boxing Championship which would also spawn the likes of Cecilia Braekhus of Norway, the first undisputed women pro boxing world champion and India's Mary Kom.

Turning pro, she would win the first of her four world boxing titles in 2007 at which point Terry Mogg saw her special qualities and offered to take her in, even sweetening the pot with a P100,000 signing bonus.

She would from then on become an adopted boxer of Australia which had great history in adopting foreign boxers as Frenchman Johnny Famechon, conqueror of Japan's Fighting Harada at featherweight, the great Russian Kostya Tszyu and illustrious son, Tim Tszyu ( currently world super welterweight champion) and even Nedal Hussein, another Pacquiao former foe and victim.

Now long retired from boxing, Gretchen would highly recommend to promising and upcoming Filipino fighters to consider having themselves adopted by foreign managers to boost their careers and take them to the next level.

Though retired as a fighter; Gretchen is currently trying her hands at training and physical conditioning of Australian boxers. If and when she gets into the Australian boxing loop, she promises to help endorse Filipino fighters to possible Australian handlers and sponsors.

Gretchen has a daughter who is her current bundle of joy and inspiration to do better with her life Down Under. Apart from being as in the words of partner Mel Alarcon, the "best Filipina boxer and champion".

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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