Eureka, A New Golden Boy of RP Boxing!
By Manny Piñol
Sun, 22 Aug 2010
In the many years that I have been involved in boxing, I have grown to be very critical in my assessment of boxers' chances of excelling in the sport, even among our own boxers.
This may be because of my other roles as boxing writer and television commentator.
Since I started the boxing program of North Cotabato, I have seen many boys work hard to become champions. I have also seen many of these boys pack up their bags to go home to their villages or go back to school simply because I was honest in my assessment of their chances in this cruel sport.
The first world boxing champion produced by the North Cotabato program, Edrin "The Sting" Dapudong, the World Boxing Council (WBC) Silver (Interim) Flyweight champion, did not really show exceptional talent early on.
Dapudong was just a regular fighter with the uncanny ability to be able to withstand welts in his face during fights and see punches coming his way. In our language we call him "kabalan", a boy who could withstand pain and physical punishment. That, along with his big heart, is what I believe would make Dapudong a great champion.
We have other prospects in the Braveheart Boxing Club of North Cotabato. There is Rolando "Smooth Operator" Magbanua, 25, (18 wins, 13 KOs, 1 loss) a junior featherweight, Lorenzo "Thunderbolt" Villanueva, 23, the current WBO Oriental Featherweight champion (18 wins, 17 KOs); Rommel "Little Assassin" Asenjo, 21, (20 wins, 17 KOs, 2 losses) WBO Oriental Miniflyweight Champion; Glenn "The Rock" Porras, 24, (24 wins, 16 KOs, 2 losses) and flyweight Jermie Jabel, who is under assessment now because he lost for the first time after 17 fights by knockout to a virtual unknown.
I have seen all of these boys fight when they started out. In fact, I have seen all of their fights but I never felt as excited as when I saw a very young prospect fight his first professional bout last Wednesday.
Joemer Lumacad, who comes from my hometown M'lang in a village often attacked by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels in the past was an 8-year-old boy when he first came to my farm accompanied by his father and older brother, Gary, to join the amateur boxing team.
I first noticed his exceptional boxing skills during the Philippine National Youth Open in Bacolod City three years ago where he won the gold in his weight category. He was natural inside the ring, like a dancer who knew all of his steps.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Joemer worked as gasoline boy in my hometown. I actually forgot all about him until I saw his brother, Gary, an average boxer, fight and win his third professional fight.
I asked Gary to bring Joemer and their father to the farm and a decision was made: Joemer will become a professional boxer. After just three weeks of training, and even against the recommendation of my brother, Noli, the chief trainer, I arranged for Joemer's first pro fight Aug. 11.
Joemer Lumacad, now 17 and 5' 6" tall, took on a former amateur fighter from Bukidnon, Ronel Bosas, in "Tomorrow's Champions", a boxing program which I started and aimed at discovering new boxing talents in the country.
There were seven bouts scheduled in the tournament in Magpet town sponsored by my younger brother, Mayor Efren Pinol, topped by the tune up fight of World Boxing Organization (WBO) miniflyweight Oriental champion Rommel "Little Assassin" Asenjo. The rest of the fights involved young boys fighting in four and six round bouts.
I asked the bout director to put the Joemer Lumacad-Ronel Brosas 4-round bout right before the main event because I wanted it to be witnessed by many people.
As Joemer stood in the middle of the ring, I remembered the shy young kid who came to my farm nine years ago. He still looked boyish but he exuded a different aura -- he strutted like a real warrior.
And for 4 rounds, Joemer bedazzled the boxing crowd which was silent all throughout the fight except for the occasional "oohs" and "aahs" as he displayed precision movements in avoiding his opponent's punches and coming right back with his own combination of beautiful connections.
He faded towards the fourth round mainly because of the short period of training and I had to tell him during the last one minute rest that I wanted to see him finish the fight and not force a knockdown or a knockout.
Joemer won all of the rounds and the crowd broke into a thunderous applause. Everybody nodded his head and agreed that Joemer Lumacad possesses the natural talent to become a world champion.
"This boy is a future world champion," said veteran boxing manager Bernard Yu. This was the same impression made by WBO vice president for Asia and the Pacific Leon Panoncillo and international matchmaker Sammy Gelloani who saw Joemer's last fight as an amateur.
I agree with them. If Joemer behaves and pursues his boxing career seriously, he will be a world champion. Honestly, I have never seen a young boxer fighting his first professional bout displaying the skills and natural movement inside the ring as Joemer did Wednesday night.
For a while I though I was seeing a younger version of Gerry Penalosa, because Lumacad is also a southpaw but he is more aggressive and possesses more powerful punches than "Fearless." I knew I was looking at a potential world champion as he moved fluidly and delivered well-timed punches, a boxer with a natural talent in the sport.
He fought as a flyweight last Wednesday but I believe that with his height and body, he will grow to be a lightweight or even a welterweight.
Critics will say it is still too early to crow over the talents of Joemer Lumacad and I will agree with that.
But when you dig up a pink diamond in its rough form, discover a lode of gold or find a hidden treasure, what do you do?
Of course, you shout with joy for the rare find.
Eureka! I found it. Philippine boxing's next Golden Boy - Joemer Lumacad!
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