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BATAWANG ATTEMPTS TO MAKE HISTORY TODAY


PhilBoxing.com




GUADALAJARA, MEXICO -- Cebu's Bert Batawang alias "Ninja", now in the twilight of his 17-year boxing career, attempts to make history today by trying to wrest the IBF light flyweight crown from a much younger opponent and Guadalajara's favorite son Ulises "Archie" Solis who will be defending his title for the 6th time at the Auditorio Benito Juarez here.

The Solis-Batawang tiff starts at around 9 p.m., Saturday, local time (11 a.m., Sunday, Manila time).

A win by Batawang here will duplicate the feat accomplished by former Filipino world champion Luisito Espinosa who knocked out another favorite son of Guadalajara, Alejandro "Cobrita" Gonzales, in the 4th round of their featherweight title fight in 1996 at the Arena Coliseo.

More importantly, Batawang would become the 5th Filipino world champion this year, delivering a strong signal to the imminent rise of Filipino boxers in the world stage. Earlier this year, Florante Condes, Nonito Donaire, Gerry Penalosa and Donnie Nietes have captured world title belts.

Both Solis and Batawang made weight during yesterday's weighin at Hotel Victoria Express. Solis came in at 48.7 kls while Batawang tipped the scales at 48.3 kls. Both were under the light flyweight limit of 49.07 kls (108 lbs). Earlier this morning Solis and Batawang made weight again for the second time as mandated by the IBF rules that both fighters should not weight more than 10 lbs over the light flyweight limit. Solis came in at 52 kls while Batawang tipped the scales at 50 kls during the second weighin.

The 36-year-old Batawang (50-6-0, 34KOs), who was in the shadows of his more illustrious compatriots throughout his career, will be gunning for a world title for the first time. Batawang failed to capture the OPBF title against Shingo Yamaguchi of Japan at the famed Korakuen Hall of Tokyo in 2004 where he lost by a split decision. After that fight however, Batawang bagged the WBA Pan African light flyweight title by stopping Sithembile Kibiti of South Africa at Kibiti's hometown in Western Cape. Batawang, who is known as one of the hardest punchers of his division, went on to stop seven of his next eight opponents to gain a mandatory title shot against current title holder Ulises Solis.

The 26-year-old Solis (25-1-2 19KOs), younger brother of super featherweight Jorge Solis whom Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao defeated in San Antonio earlier this year, captured the IBF light flyweight crown from Will Grigsby of the United States on Jan. 7, 2006 at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Solis has defended the title five times the last one against Filipino top prospect Rodel Mayol whom Solis knocked out in a spectacular fashion in the 8th round during their 12-round contest at the All-State Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

Both fighters appear to be highly confident going into tonight's fight. Solis for his part promised that Batawang would become his second Filipino victim after he knocked out the highly rated Rodel Mayol in a spectucalar fashion earlier this year. Batawang, on the other hand, vowed to continue the dominance of Filipino fighters against their Mexican counterparts and said he will knock out Solis and bring home the title.

About the only Filipinos who came to witness this event in this beautiful Hispanic city are promoter and Batawang's manager Samson Gello-ani, trainer Jeremiah Quijano, 3C Wireless of LA owner Ronald Sanchez, who will be the flag bearer, and his father Gualberto, and this writer. Long time Cebu-resident Tony Martin from Great Britain, who now lives in Las Vegas, will be at Batawang's corner as cutman. Another Las Vegas resident, Sampson Lewkowicz, who is the matchmaker of an array of up-and-coming Filipino fighters, completes the cast for Team Batawang.

The officials for this fight are Pat Russel, referee; judges are David Robertson, Oldemar Soto and Rafael Lopez Santos. IBF's David McCullough will supervise the fight.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dong Secuya.


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