Philippines, 05 Dec 2022
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PHIL-ling Up


PhilBoxing.com





Are you happy with the current state of Philippine boxing? Are we happy that Manny Pacquiao is recognized as the people's world champion? Are we also happy that Rey 'Boom Boom' Bautista is on the verge of winning a world championship? I think the answers to these are an obvious "yes." But let me challenge the question further. Are we happy with just these? A couple bright stars for Philippine boxing, and that's it?

If you take a look at the current boxing scene and gauge how the Philippines is doing vis-? -vis other countries, you'll most likely agree with me that yes, while we are proud of the latest achievements of Pacquiao and Boom Boom, there's a long way to go before reaching our long term dream of seeing the Philippines as a dominant player in the international boxing scene. And when one talks about dominating the world boxing, one of the best examples is Mexico, especially in the "lighter" weight divisions, i.e. those below the middleweight division (160 lbs).

The skeptics will surely say that Mexico is a dominant country because of its control and influence in the different world boxing organizations, but let's give credit where it's due. We can't deny that they also have some of the best fighters in the world. A classic case is the super featherweight division where our very own Manny Pacquiao has already faced five Mexicans (Erik Morales thrice, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jorge Solis and Hector Velasquez). Manny's brother Bobby is facing Humberto Soto, another Mexican warrior who could be facing Manny within the year. Marquez has gone on to win the WBC championship in a classic all-Mexico championship against Barrera. If you look at world rankings of the different weight divisions of the WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA, one thing that sticks out will always be the initials "MEX" written and enclosed in parenthesis beside many boxers names.

This leads me to ask whether or not there will come a day when the initials "PHIL" will be a common sight in all these rankings. Wouldn't this make us proud of Philippine boxing?

How many "PHILS" do we see today? Few and scattered. The only remarkable collection of PHILS would be in the minimumweight division where Rodel Mayol, Yuka Gejon, Donnie Nietes and Florante Condes are rated in the different world boxing bodies. With this as a start, wouldn't it be great if Condes wins the IBF title from Muhammad Rachman on June 16? Then add Gejon winning the WBA version, Nietes winning the WBO and later Mayol holding a WBC title belt.

Boom Boom Bautista is being groomed to take over Daniel Ponce de Leon?€™s WBO super bantamweight crown in August, while Bernabe Concepcion is slowly but surely being primed for a shot at the WBC version. The down side is that there doesn't seem to be another world-class Pinoy in this division. Moreover, it may take more time before Concepcion gets a title shot. But again, this isn?€™t bad at all. This leaves the room wide open for more opportunities for Pinoys to make their presence felt.

But how far are we to that scenario? How long will it take for us to reach this stature? When will see all those PHILS as if all boxers were named "Phil"?

This brings me back to the need to do our homework here on local shores. While the likes of Pacquiao and Bautista will be busy earning their paychecks abroad, what is local boxing doing to build our very own local blue chip prospects? We have to realize that before making it big in Asia or the U.S., we'll have to start somewhere. I just hope that we don't forget the need to keep our local boxers busy and active. We should continue working on the greenhorns who are just starting their pro careers and not forget the other boxers who have been there for a while but whose development has slowed down for one reason or another.

That's why I'll get worried if fewer boxing promotions being held in Cebu. But so far, so good. We had the usual Sinulog card in January, the "Moment of Truth" in February, and a WBO Asia Pacific championship last April (albeit in Victorias, Negros Occidental). Some ALA-based boxers saw action in Manila last month and two big cards are being lined up in July, one each from SGG Promotions and Wakee Salud. While we'll always beg for more, only time will tell if all these events will be successful in producing the country's world beaters of the tomorrow. And this is why we?'ll need more than just boxing promotions. We'll need quality matches where our boxers stand to learn and gain that much-needed exposure and experience. Only this way will we be able to produce top-caliber boxers.

So when will "PHIL" become a by-word in the world rankings? When will boxing fans start asking whether PHIL is a name or a country?


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


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