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All Set for Cebu Thriller in April; Magbanua, Batawang Defend WBO Titles


PhilBoxing.com




World Boxing Organization (WBO) Interim bantamweight Oriental Champion Rolando "Smooth Operator" Magbanua and junior flyweight titlist Bert Batawang of Cebu defend their titles against dangerous opponents Saturday night in what is considered to be a "boxing bettors' event" called Thriller in April at the Cebu Coliseum.

The veteran Batawang, 36, a tremendous power puncher who has fought the best in the world in his division, will be defending his WBO crown against the 23-year-old Edrin "The Sting" Dapudong, a protege of the Pinol Brothers' Braveheart Boxing Club of North Cotabato who holds a record of 18 wins against 2 losses and 12 KOs.

Magbanua, 23, who won the vacant WBO title via a spectacular 6th round stoppage of Mexican Jose Angel Cota on Feb. 21 this year also at the same venue will defend his title against Thailand's Wan Sithsaithong of the popular Kokiet Boxing Gym of Bangkok. It will be the first defense for the former amateur standout who hails from Pigcawayan in North Cotabato.

The 12-round title fight will be critical for the ageing Batawang because a defeat could spell the end of a long career which saw him scoring 34 professional wins against 6 losses.

Dapudong is known to be a tenacious boxer who loves to go to the body, a skill he has developed under Cuban trainer Honorato Espinosa and honed by Braveheart Boxing Club chief trainer Noli Pinol, younger brother of North Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Pinol.

"I will win this fight," Batawang boldly predicted during a press conference yesterday. Dapudong said he has a lot of respect for Batawang and added "One of us will fall."

Dapudong has never been knocked down in his young career and his losses all came by close decision, including a fight against former world champion Muhammad Rachman of Indonesia in Jakarta last year.

Magbanua hopes to hurdle the Thai challenger to improve his world ranking and strengthen his position for a crack at the WBO bantamweight crown now being held by compatriot Gerry Penalosa. Magbanua is currently rated No. 15 in the world by the WBO.

Another fight that will be closely followed will be the classic encounter between undefeated Korean boxing prospect Jong Hwa Lee (8-0-1KO) against Mindanao's Richard "Lion Heart" Betos, an 8-round encounter which promises to be the fight of the night.
"Both these boys are non-stop fighters and this should be the fight of the night," said boxing impresario Sammy Gelloani, whose SSG Promotions is co-promoting the Thriller in April with Vice Gov. Pinol's Braveheart Boxing Promotions.

Also seeing action in the card are undefeated Lorenzo "Thunderbolt" Villanueva, 22, (13 wins, 13 KOs) and Rommel "Little Assassin" Asenjo, 20, (12 wins, 2 loss, 10 KOs) who are both going up against Thai opponents.

Five other young boxers from Mindanao will also be seeing action in the card which will be shown live on CCTN Channel 47 and through the Internet via livestreaming on www.pinoyboxingtv.com.

Top photo: Promoters Vice-Governor Manny Pinol (L) and Sammy Gello-ani (R) with Scoop host Bobby Inferio during Wednesday's press conference of the 'Thriller in April' boxing event scheduled on Saturday at the Cebu Coliseum.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Salven L. Lagumbay.


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