Philippines, 28 Nov 2022
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Bleacher Talk: What's up Cebu Boxing?

Or should our question be: What?s happening to Cebu Boxing? I hate to say this but 2019 isn?t looking like an active year for Cebu Boxing. So far, only two boxing events were held, and these were of the small kind. Don?t get me wrong. We?re grateful to big Yellow and Omega Pro Sports International/Omega Boxing for staging these, but is this all that Cebu can produce? The questions being asked these days among boxing fans are about when Donnie Nietes will fight for a world championship. When will Jhack Tepora fight again and redeem himself for that unfortunate ?overweight? incident in what was supposed to be his debut in the U.S.? And what about Cebu?s world contenders? Albert Pagara, Christian Araneta, Jeo Santisima, KJ Cataraja, Milan Melindo and others? These are the expected questions since they?re Cebu?s biggest hopes for a world title, but I?d like to add one more important question. Where are all those boxing events that produced these world contenders?

I?m not sure if it has reached an alarming level, but one of the most important ingredients to produce world-class fighters is the need to have boxers fight at smaller events to give them exposure, experience and mileage. Let?s face it. Donnie, Jhack and company didn?t become world-class boxers overnight. They started out slowly, fought as four-rounders before moving up to six, eight and later ten-rounders. They fought in all sorts of venues from a simple barangay?s multi-purpose gym to open parking lots to Cebu Coliseum, Mandaue Sports Complex and even the high-end Waterfront Hotel. And when they were ripe, they fought for regional titles of the WBO and WBF. All of these were held in Cebu, with an occasional side trip to either Maasin, Bacolod, Davao or Manila.

We recognize that it isn?t cheap to stage boxing events these days, but then again if they did it before, why can?t they do it today? Did you say sponsors not coming in? No income? No funds? And so again I ask, done before, can be done again today, can?t it? I can still remember how it was easy for ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN to stage the Pinoy Pride series. This surely meant huge investments on both sides but I?d like to believe that both parties were sporting ear-to-ear smiles with all the income generated through TV rights, sponsors and advertisers.

Gone are the days when the likes of ALA and Wakee Salud would dig deep into their pockets to stage boxing events for their young boxers. Terry Carter also squeezed in his fight cards in between, assuring boxing fans of action almost every month. Do I go back as far as Ben Sun?s time? The main objective of these cards were to get their boxers time on top of the ring and get exposure. The real fights were totally different from the sparring that they did in the gym. These fights separated the men from the boys; the real contenders from pretenders; and gave fans, matchmakers and promoters the opportunity to check out those diamonds in the rough. Here, one could see if a prospect was for real or was all hype. These fights were also more competitive in the sense that these weren?t one-sided. The shorter fights were like sprints where boxers gave it their 100% with no respect for pacing. Some of the four or six-rounders were better than the main event, for the simple reason that the boxers went all-out, knowing that the fight was a short one and there was no ?overtime.?

This is all I ask for now. If we can?t have those big/high profile boxing events, let?s bring back more of those small cards that are relatively more cost-efficient but productive. The main event could be an eight-rounder and the opponent doesn't have to be a foreigner and neither does it have to be for a title. This can be backed up by four and six-rounders featuring those rookies and boxers with less than eight fights under their belt. On the part of the fans, I guess we were too spoiled by all those Waterfront events and we need to re-start from scratch and re-welcome into our lives those low-cost, non-airconditioned venues. And let?s not forget to pay for the tickets/chance to watch fights. It?s a simple way of helping both boxers and promoters on the financial end of things. Nothing is free these days, di ba?

To our dear promoters, please bring back more boxing. It doesn?t have to be of the Waterfront-type. A simple, down-to-earth card of four to eight-rounders composed of Pinoy boxers will do. We?re fine with your young prospects and won?t insist on your world-class boxers. The previous events at Parkmall and The Greenery were good starts, and there are more boxers who have yet to see action from Cebu?s stables. We pray that sponsors come in and help out the promoters, knowing that putting up a boxing event doesn?t come cheap.

Is Cebu Boxing dying? Surely not. I?d like to believe that it?s just taking a nap and is due to wake up very soon.

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

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