Philippines, 20 Apr 2024
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Gathering of champions


PhilBoxing.com





The stars descended on the Okada Grand Ballroom last Sunday as former world boxing champions gathered to celebrate the launch of the 1st Pacquiao-Elorde Awards Night with WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman as guest of honor and speaker. Legends of different eras got together in a glittering show of history, providing a magical dose of inspiration to the fighters of today with hopes of following in the footsteps of Manny Pacquiao, Luisito Espinosa, Erbito Salavarria, Rolando Navarrete, Rene Barrientos, Ronnie Magramo, Jerwin Ancajas, Marlon Tapales, Melvin Jerusalem and Pedro Taduran.

Sulaiman and Pacquiao spoke on the podium before a mesmerized audience that was treated to a sumptuous dinner. The WBC chief said his late father Jose, whom he succeeded at the governing body’s helm, called the Philippines his second home and noted the major role Filipinos played in establishing the organization as a leader in the industry. Sulaiman paid tribute to Justiniano Montano who served as WBC president and Atty. Rudy Salud who crafted the WBC Constitution in 1967 and was WBC secretary-general. He said the Philippines was one of 11 countries that were the WBC’s founding member countries. Sulaiman pointed out that whoever is GAB chairman automatically sits in the WBC Board of Governors and mentioned Dominador Cepeda, Eric Buhain, Monju Guanzon and Abraham Mitra as among those who previously served. He congratulated current GAB chairman Atty. Richard Clarin for continuing the work of his predecessors in boosting Philippine boxing. Sulaiman also said Manila has hosted the WBC Convention thrice and the WBC Women’s Convention once, making the city an integral part of WBC history.

When the announcement came for dinner, a platoon of waiters wearing hooded boxing robes, some red and some blue, emerged to serve the guests at the head table. Sulaiman and Pacquiao were at the main table with POC president Mayor Bambol Tolentino, Sen. Francis Tolentino, ABAP president Rep. Robbie Puno, Philippine Aquatics secretary-general Rep. Eric Buhain, former Rep. Bobby Pacquiao, Clarin, MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, Viva Promotions head Brendan Gibbons and event organizers Johnny and Liza Elorde.

The menu was like a boxing program with southpaw bread and butter, smoked scallop uppercut as the curtain raiser, straight clam chowder as the preliminary, calamansi hook sorbet as the supporting mainer, Pacman slow-cooked beef brisket or D’Flash miso-glazed salmon as the main event, Laura’s grand cru chocolate dome as the knockout dessert and Jinkee’s special brewed coffee or hot tea to top it all. Every table on the floor had a chocolate cake as a center piece with candied boxing gloves and a mini ring on top.

World, international and regional champions were awarded the Cameron Castrillo trophy with an exquisite metal design combining the initials MP (Manny Pacquiao) and FE (Flash Elorde) on a wooden base. Tapales and Jerusalem were recognized as co-boxers of the year. In a preview of how the Awards Night will evolve in the future to recognize athletes from various sports, several heroes were called up on stage to receive Castrillo trophies, too. Efren (Bata) Reyes of billiards, Eugene Torre of chess, Paeng Nepomuceno of bowling (represented by his sister), Annie Ramirez of jiu-jitsu, ABAP boxing team including Paris Olympic qualifiers Eumir Marcial, Aira Villegas and Nesthy Petecio and MPBL champion Pampanga Giant Lanterns were feted. Also cited but unable to attend were Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, EJ Obiena of pole vault and the Gilas basketball team. Posthumous awards were given to boxer Kenneth Egano represented by his mother, boxing judge Romeo Fordaliza and matchmaker Jimmy Narvaez.

Johnny and Liza Elorde and family combined forces with Pacquiao’s team to stage an unforgettable event that will go down in history as the start of the annual Pacquiao-Elorde Awards Night.


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


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