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Boom Booms or Busts


PhilBoxing.com


He was thrown into the limelight by just being on the undercard of the Morales-Raheem and Pacquiao-Velasquez card. He has been greeted over national TV by no less that the President. The media is going gaga all over him as the country’s next best hope. Promoters are now hot on his trail, making offers to him left and right. He has never seen so much money go into his savings account and has suddenly been able to give his family things they’ve never had before. At 19 years old, Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista is already a star of this fairy tale.

But wait. Is the fairy tale already over? Why is the audience already rejoicing as if we’ve already reached the ending where everyone lives happily every after? Don’t get me wrong. I join the Cebu Boxing community and the province of Bohol in rejoicing and welcoming Rey with praises and shouts of "Good job!" But I also don’t want him to have so much pressure on his shoulders at this stage of his career.

While all honors, motorcades and praises are good for Rey, I’m now both worried and anxious. While there is no doubt that he has the tools to become a world champion in the future, he now has to face an ordeal that will make him encounter the other half of the struggle that makes one a world champ. Having excellent boxing skills and talent are not guaranties of a world championship. While these will give you wins on top of the ring, there’s also the other half of the path towards a world title. And it’s not happening in the ring. If Rey can breeze through all these with flying colors, there shouldn’t be a problem in reaching his dreams.

And I’m sure his manager Tony Aldeguer finds himself in this "dilemma," though it’s of the pleasant type. Some even call it a "happy" problem.

What is this "happy" problem or dilemma? There really isn’t any term for it, but the easiest way to describe it is that it’s everything happening away from the ring. Boom Boom must realize that he is now a legit sports star and along with this will come the unwanted but always present realities that go along with the territory.

The sports media will now keep a close eye on every move he makes. The Manila press will pick him apart for every booboo he commits. More and more fans will now recognize him and will demand for everything from him: money, tickets, autographs, appearances and even a "nightstand." Money will flow from all sources. Promoters, managers and businessmen will be making offers (both legal and illegal) to make him rich. Some will even attempt to take ALA away from his side. The opposite sex (and third?) will suddenly sprout and become a regular sight, especially when not in the gym or doing roadwork. He’ll suddenly realize that so many strangers have suddenly become a close friend, his ex-trainer, patron, ex-classmate or a relative. The lights, money and crowds of Vegas and LA will now be a normal sight.

Amidst all this hooplah, blitz and hype, ALA will now have the tough job of keeping Rey focused on the task on hand and not get carried away with all the hype. ALA has to keep Rey sharp from the mental and psychological aspect so he can face all these unscathed. Rey’s exposure in Japan, Indonesia, Korea and Hawaii has certainly helped. Moreover, his last nine fights have all been against foreign foes. The next crucial task is to guide Rey on how to deal with the sudden surge of fame and money.

But while ALA is considered as Rey’s primary handler, we also have a role to play in this fairy tale. First things first. We need to put everything in the proper perspective. While there’s nothing wrong with praising him to the high heavens, we, as his supporters and fans, must give him the space, time and focus on his path to the big goal that’s another four to five fights up ahead. Genuine support will come in the form of prayers and not bothering or disrupting his daily life with stupid acts.

At this point, Rey is nowhere near his ultimate goal and also has a lot of room for improvement before hitting the big time. The bad news is that he’s already being treated and hailed as a world champ. There’s a tremendous load of pressure on Rey’s shoulders (and ALA’s, too) since everyone is already expecting him to win a world title as if it was as easy as saying A-B-C. And this isn’t fair at all for someone who hasn’t even turned 20.

The script has been written and we’ve got our own roles to play. And the fairy tale hasn’t ended. In fact, it has just started and we all want to see this story reach its ultimate goal, don’t we?


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rico Navarro.


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