Philippines, 28 Nov 2022
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Bleacher Talk: Cebu Boxing Check-up

It?s that time of the year when we take a look at Cebu Boxing and check on its vital stats. Is it alive? Healthy? Vibrant? Or is it struggling? Barely surviving? How I wish I had great news to share with you on the issue.

The country had a total of 54 fight cards since the start of the year. Five of these were held in Cebu; that?s nine percent of all fight cards. Three of these were promoted by Big Yellow Promotions, while Omega and Naris/RWS took care of the others. We should still be thankful that these promoters emptied their pockets to stage these fight cards. But did you say that Cebu is the hotbed of Philippine Boxing? Sure looks like it isn?t anymore. Among the five Cebu fight cards of 2019, none can be considered as ?big time? boxing, with the Pinoy Pride series as benchmark. All were small cards that were held in different venues and where admission was free. It looks like gone are the days when boxing fans looked forward to going to the Waterfront Hotel for a night of boxing (and paid for their tickets). If that wasn?t possible, the IEC Convention Center was another option. The fights were televised on a one-day delayed basis over the S+A channel of ABS-CBN on a Sunday. But the fights were aired live on a pay-per-view scheme on a Saturday night. Where are these big-time boxing events today? Wala, Zero. Nada.

If we don?t have big fight cards, then where are Cebu?s top boxers? Four-division world champion Donnie Nietes is idle and waiting for that big break to face off against either of the super flyweight champions Juan Francisco Estrada (WBC) or Khalid Yafai (WBA). Is this fight taking any place soon? I sure hope so. Donnie isn?t getting any younger and he hasn?t fought since winning the WBO belt on New Year?s Eve. Surprisingly, it?s been very quiet at ALA Promotions and ALA Boxing. What gives? After exploding into the scene, the Pinoy Pride series was the most-watched boxing event on TV. But it has suddenly gone off the air, and there isn?t any news or even talks about another Pinoy Pride taking place soon. I pray though that I?m wrong. They did a great job in showcasing the talents of world champions Nietes and Milan Melindo and their upcoming prospects in Jeo Santisima, Albert Pagara, Melvin Jerusalem and KJ Catarja. What will happen to their careers now? I hope the ALA camp doesn?t remain quiet for too long. Their silence is a serious setback for Cebu Boxing.

One of the trends that has made local fight cards scarce is how Cebu?s top boxers are now campaigning overseas. Jhack Tepora and Marlon Tapales are now based in the United States. ?King? Arthur Villanueva is due to fight for a world title in Astana next month. Fighting abroad is the more practical approach as this means zero expenses on the part of the boxer and his manager. In fact, it?s an instant source of revenues, thanks to the fight card?s promoter. WBO interim bantamweight world champion Johnriel Casimero may no longer be Cebu-based but he too, has made a living fighting abroad and winning, too.

But while this trend will dominate the boxing scene, where and when will Cebu?s young prospects fight? Let?s face it. The silence of ALA Promotions has reverberated throughout the boxing community with many surprised at the situation. The mere fact that they didn?t put up a single fight card in 2019 is not a good sign, is it? I guess we were all spoiled by the Pinoy Pride that we continue to search for more and don?t want to settle for anything less. Meanwhile, Big Yellow has stepped up with their three fight cards (and counting). These may not match up with what local fans are used to, but we?ll take it. Better than none at all. Let?s also hope that both Omega Boxing and RWS/Naris continue putting up fight cards for their stables.

As Cebu remains silent, Sanman Promotions of General Santos has somehow stolen the limelight and is now making its presence felt in Pinoy Boxing. Through its tie-up with ESPN 5, their fighters are now active fighting here and abroad, getting to fight on national TV. Their boxers now hog the headlines of Pinoy Boxing, much in the same way that the ALA boxers did before. Another boxing endeavor that is worth watching is the Ultimate Boxing Series: Kamaong Pinoy, a tie-up between Gerry Pe?alosa?s GerryPens Promotions and ESPN 5. This features young but tough prospects in a tournament-type scheme with a nationwide network (including Cebu). Another phenomenon stealing the limelight is MMA or Mixed Martial Arts. One Championship is now a regular in the Philippines and is aired also over S+A. Has this replaced Pinoy Pride? Hmm.

We?re halfway through 2019 and Cebu Boxing has been very quiet. Here?s hoping for a second semester surge where all of Cebu?s prospects get a chance to fight and give Cebu?s boxing fans the action that they miss.

Maayong adlaw!

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

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