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Taking the Road to Fort JuanMa


PhilBoxing.com



Lorenzo Villanueva.

To Filipino boxing fans, Puerto Rican boxing idol Juan Manuel Lopez now looks like an impenetrable Fort that stands proudly in the middle of Boxing Valley.

Already, he has repulsed two attempts by big names in Philippine boxing. Gerry Penalosa, a natural bantamweight, looked so puny as JuanMa Lopez took everything the Filipino challenger could dish out to successfully defend the 122 lb. title of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) by a 10th round stoppage in April last year.

As if that was not enough, JuanMa moved up in weight to the 126-lb. class and mauled into submission in less than two rounds last July 10 overly hyped Bernabe Concepcion, earlier believed to be the country's best hope for a featherweight title.

With Penalosa and Concepcion effectively eliminated from the list of contenders to JuanMa's throne, Philippine boxing is left scrounging for its Featherweight Knight in the Shining Armor to launch another offensive at Fort JuanMa, not only to redeem the nation's boxing honor, but also to at least even up the score with Puerto Rico.

The sad truth is there is nobody in sight, at least for now.

There is a young featherweight in North Cotabato, Lorenzo "Thunderbolt" Villanueva, 23, who could be a potential contender to the featherweight throne of JuanMa but he will not be ripe until about a year from now.

Villanueva, who at 5' 7", is as tall as the Puerto Rican champion and is also a southpaw like Lopez, also holds an impressive record of 18 wins with 17 KOs and one No Decision.

But right now, Villanueva is nowhere near the level of JuanMa. He is still awkward and lacks that punching combinations that could make him a world champion.

He, however, possesses many positive attributes which could make him a formidable contender in the near future: courage and a big heart, perseverance and determination, and most of all punching power and the ability to take a punch.

There is a long process though that Villanueva, an orphan from the town of Midsayap in North Cotabato, has to go through. There will be a series of tests that he will have to undergo.

On Aug. 1, he will take a tough test when he defends his WBO Oriental Featherweight title against world contender and former World Boxing Council (WBC) International junior featherweight champion Balweg Bangoyan in a scheduled 12-round fight in M'lang, North Cotabato.

This will be Villanueva's second defense of the title he won by a 10th round knockout of former Asian Games gold medallist Eric Canoy but it could be the most difficult fight as Bangoyan has lost only once in his boxing career, this was in his attempt to win the WBC super bantamweight title being held by Japan's Toshiaki Nishioka on April 30 this year. Bangoyan lost by 5th round TKO.

Should he win over Bangoyan, Villanueva will then go through a seasoning process which will take him to overseas assignments including one scheduled by international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz in Uruguay in November. In between these foreign engagements, he will spend time at the Fortune Gym of Justin Fortune in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California where he will undergo an intensive conditioning and muscle development program.

It will still be a long road before Villanueva reaches the portals of Fort JuanMa but such is the route that this young orphan will have to go through, or else he will end up suffering the fate of the last Filipino fighter that Lopez repulsed in two rounds.

Being farmers, Villanueva, the trainers at the Braveheart Boxing Club led by chief trainer Noli Pinol and I as boxing manager, know that there is a time for planting and a right time for harvesting.

Villanueva is still green and he needs to ripen.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Manny Piñol.


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