The night ‘Flash’ boxed his way to glory
By Eddie Alinea
Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Fifty years ago last March 16, Filipino boxing hero Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, then nine days short of turning 25, floored defending World Boxing Association junior-lightweight champion Harold Gomes seven times to capture the crown and end the country’s 20-year world championship draught.
Tomorrow night, the Flash’s family, headed by his widow Laura and children, commemorates that historic occasion that happened a day before the country remembered the third anniversary of the death of President Ramon Magsaysay in a plane crash at Mt. Manungal.
No less than present day ring icon Manny Pacquiao will be the guest honor in the ceremony heldon the occasion of the 10th Gabriel “Flash”: Elorde Memorial Boxing Award at the Harbor Garden Tent of the Sofitel Hotel.
Pandemonium broke loose that memorable night of March 16, 1960 as the crowd, estimated to be more or less 30,000, inside the being inaugurated Araneta Coliseum rushed into the ring toppling everything on the way after seeing the deposed champ Gomes went down to his knees as if to genuflect to the new god for good at the one minute and 50 seconds mark of the seventh round. That was two decades after compatriot Ceferino Garcia, acknowledged as father of the ‘bolo punch’, lost the middleweight division he lorded over until 1940.
Sign of what to come though came as early as the second round when ‘Bay’ caught the Portuguese-American with a right hook to the head that sent Gomes to the canvas and while he struggled back to his feet, was to fall back anew needing the intervention of the bell to prolong not only his reign but his agony.
World famous trainer Whitey Bimstein, Gomes’ chief cornerman said after the fight that it was as early in that round that his boy lost the crown. The Filipino challenger hammered down the 25-year-old Gomez again in the third and in the fifth sending him over the ring’s lower rope at round’s end with the outclassed titlist walking to the wrong corner and his handlers hauling him back to the stool.
Newspaper accounts had it that Elorde eased up his attacks in the sixth allowing Gomes to somewhat recover, but at the start of he seventh, the Flash resumed the carnage, connecting with a couple of rights to the head followed by a left to the jaw that saw the champ sprawled on the floor anew for the count of four.
Gomes staggered up but was down again with a barrage of lefts and rights, up again an met a series of two-fisted combinations as referee Barney Ross, world lightweight and welterweight kingpin in the 30s and a bemedaled World War II hero, counted him out.
Elorde dropped on his knees in prayer to thank God, a tradition he followed to the letter in all his fights even as the conquered opponent looked dazed at his corner. When he recovered, he went to Elorde’s corner and whispered: “It was a good fight.”
“Tapos na, “ then Philippines Herald sports editor Tito Tagle quoted then Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson, a former sport columnist himself, as saying. Among the sports luminaries at the ringside were WBA representative Tony Petronella, ex-Senate President Jose Avelino, Quezon City Mayor Norberto Amoranto, Defene Secretary Alejo Santos, General Services Secretary Serafin Salvador, sportsman Ted Lewin, Philippine Boxing Association president Mamerto Besa, Games and Amusements Board chair Neling Nieto and businessman Jorge Araneta, scion of the Araneta rich clan and promoter of the fight.
Except for a slight cut above his eyebrow, Elorde was unscathed in his successful second try for a world title denied him four years prior by African-American Sandy Saddler in a controversial world featherweight championship confrontation marred by the latter’s dirty tactics. Saddler won by a 13th round TKO that one, their second following Elorde’s points victory earlier.
Elorde defended his WBA junior-lightweight crown seven times up to year 1967, the longest by any fighter in the division before the Games and Amusements Board retired him in 1971.
Pacquiao,fresh from his conquest of Joshua Clottey in Dallas, Texas, will be honored as the only boxer to win 7 championship belts in 7 different divisions in ceremonies also commemorating Elorde’s 25th death and 75th birth anniversary (Bay was born March 25, 1935).
The Gabriel "Flash" Elorde Awards is hosted by the Elorde Sports Foundation and sponsored by the Johnny Elorde Management International with Cobra Energy Drink as co-presentor. The Flash’s daughter Liza Elorde and Ted Lerner are the masters of ceremonies.
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