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The Art of War as it Applies to Boxing: A Realistic Assessment of Our Chances (Part 2)


PhilBoxing.com





The 5th century book by Sun Tzu, the Art of War had inspired; it was claimed many modern military strategies including Gen Douglas MacArthur, Mao Tse Tung and the great Vietnamese Gen. Nguyen Von Giap of the Battle of Dienbienphu fame.

But its principles are not limited to warfare but could be applied as well in the field of sports, primarily in boxing where I think Floyd Mayweather benefited in building up his undefeated record. Floyd surely applied the principles of knowing his enemies and choosing his battles. And engaging them when the odds of winning were high in his favor.

Never these principles are needed more by our fighters than today, although that of choosing our battles cannot be guaranteed as this privilege is usually exercised by boxers with rich promoters who decide who, when, and where they will fight. Which is a luxury our boxers do not enjoy for obvious reasons - beggars can't be choosers, so speaking (I don't believe Manny Pacquiao, even at the height of his prime enjoyed this, he fought whomever Bob Arum told him).

Hence, our fighters are left with the principle of knowing the enemy. And correlated to this, knowing themselves, their capabilities to rise up to the odds and challenge.

The weight classes where most of our fighters are campaigning, the lower weight divisions, Japanese boxers are reigning supreme with a few considered as unbeatable. Therefore we should evaluate very carefully and thoroughly our chances of winning against these foes and in their homeland at that, which is usually the case. Promoters of these fighters however are careful in matching them against our top fighters, I have observed. Chances are they will be choosing the opponents very well.

This is where the principle of knowing the (other) enemy or enemies come to play.

Flyweight

Dave Apolinario is our best bet in this division which used to be a goldmine but now a dangerous minefield for many a Filipino fighters recently. MIel Fajardo to my surprise is also rated in the division.

The current titleholders at 112 are Mexican Julio Martinez (WBC), new WBA champion Japanese Seigo Yuri Akui and unified WBO and IBF titlist Jesse Bam Rodriguez.

Of the three, it would be advisable for Apolinario to target Akui as the Japanese is newly crowned and has three previous losses in his resume while Martinez and especially Rodriguez are very formidable champions. Apolinario is the top rated contender in the WBA, by the way.

Rodriguez is undefeated and has had fruitful stint as world champion in the super flyweight before deciding to go back down to flyweight to also win a world title there. Martinez suffered his loss in a failed attempt at winning a world title at 115 and it came at the hands of the legendary Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez.

However it was reported that Bam Rodriguez has another change of mind and wants to go back to the super flyweight to win another world title at 115. That would free up the WBO and IBF flyweight titles for another potential target for Apolinario.

Given this possibility, another principle emerges: timing is essential for Apolinario to launch his serious bid for a world title fight, just like with throwing a jab.

Super Flyweight

Originally, there have been two Japanese who hold world crown at 115, namely WBA champion Kazuto Ioka and WBO titlist Junto Nakatani. The other champions are Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada (WBC) and Argentine Fernando Martinez (IBF). Estrada is widely considered as the king of the super flyweights although Ioka is disputing that and wants a showdown to determine who is who.

Martinez ended Jerwin Ancajas' six year reign and seems contented with being IBF champion and not predisposed to join any fray among titleholders. Nakatani meanwhile has looked northward for another world title at bantamweight, potentially his third, versus Santiago Barrios of Mexico. Nakatani has vacated his WBO crown with another Japanese fighter Kosei Tanaka poised to fill the vacancy as top contender.

Given this situation, the top Filipino fighters in this division Jade Bornea, KJ Cataraja and Jayr Raquinel can only hope and wait for opportunities for a world title fight to come their way. Bornea had his chance last year but lost by TKO to Martinez but hopefully he may still be considered to fight for the vacant WBO title versus Tanaka, or KJ Cataraja, or Raquinel.

Should that come, any of the three should carefully study the potential foe, most likely Tanaka. A former undefeated three division world champion, Tanaka is a formidable foe whose lone loss came against Ioka in a failed title attempt at 115 a few years back. Most importantly, they should take thorough evaluation of their own qualities and capabilities vis a vis the opponent and the potential hostile environment.

Of course, Martinez can still be in the crosshairs.

But note that the 115 is also home for other dangerous fighters as Chocolatito Gonzalez, Carlos Cuadras who could derail any aspirations.

Bantamweight

An actual world title try is happening this month through Jerwin Ancajas who is challenging Japan's Takuma Inoue for his WBA bantamweight crown.

There are other world rated Filipino bantamweights as Vincent Astrolabio and Reymart Gaballo and they are ripe for another try at the other world titleholders as Emmanuel Rodriguez (IBF) and Jason Moloney (WBO) and the winner of the Barrios-Nakatani for the WBC crown.

Despite losing to Moloney on points, Astrolabio remains highly rated. So is Gaballo who has reigned previously as WBA and WBC interim champion. Both has built a reputation as a difficult fighter, or spoiler. That could work against them though in getting world title crack.

On the positive side, Astrolabio and Gaballo have been fighting at world level for a long time and they are already familiar with the top fighters in the division.

That could serve them well should a title opportunity comes.

Let us hope that Ancajas succeeds in his world title quest versus Takuma for who knows, that could start another Filipino bubble at bantamweight.

Super Bantamweight

We all know that Naoya Inoue is the king of the super bantamweight, the undisputed world champion who holds all the belts.

But after disposing off our top bet in the division, Marlon Tapales via 10th round TKO last December, Naoya opened a crack at the door to a future world title fight against another of our top bet, Johnriel Casimero saying he has an unfinished with Casimero.

Inoue wants three fights this year, the first against Mexican Luis Nery, second against former unified titlist Morudjon Akhmadaliev and the last versus Casimero.

But it will not come on a silver platter. Casimero has to work hard, i.e. win impressively against world level opponents especially in Japan to earn it.

Whether that fight happens or not, hopefully Inoue decides to continue his march up the weight scales to the featherweights.

Potentially with the resulting four vacant world titles, Tapales and/or Casimero will have a chance to fight and win one.

Click here for Part I.

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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