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Cebu Boxing Year-ender


PhilBoxing.com




Cebu Boxing?s 2008 performance has brought in a few surprises in what has been a learning and growing experience for all.

Although he?s not a product of Cebu Boxing, the year started and ended with Manny Pacquiao. Without the Pacman, Cebu Boxing wouldn?t be where it is today as we became the first choice of promoters and matchmakers looking for future world beaters out of the Philippines. Pacquiao?s dominance opened the doors for the Cebu Boxing family, making it a lot easier for Cebu boxers and promoters to break into the world scene. Some have been successful, while some have not. But more importantly, this has now become the level at which Cebu Boxing will now be evaluated from now on.

For our world champions, it was a case of doing enough to maintain their titles, but they were also inactive for much of the year, something that may not be good for them in the long run. Long-time Cebu product Gerry Pe?alosa retained his WBO bantamweight championship by defeating Ratanachai Sor Vorapin by KO last April in his only defense. A second defense scheduled for September in Tubod was canceled, leaving Gerry idle for the rest of year. Donnie Nietes, the ALA Gym?s current world champion, also defended his WBO minimumweight championship with an easy two-round KO win over Eddy Castro, but like Gerry, Donnie?s boxing for the balance of 2008 was limited to the confines of the gym. It was also the same for the country?s other world champions who also have links to Cebu Boxing. Nonito Donaire defended his IBF flyweight belt, defeating Moruti Mthalane of South Africa by TKO in a performance that was a far cry from his devastating win over Vic Darchinyan. Ditto for Florante Condes who lost his IBF minimumweight championship to Raul Garcia of Mexico.

A look at The Ring Magazine?s world ratings will also give us a good indicator of how far Cebu boxers have reached and their chances of winning a world championship for the country. Donaire is ranked # 1 in the flyweight division (112 lbs) while Pe?alosa is # 6 in the bantamweight division (118 lbs). In the minimumweight division (105 lbs), Condes is ranked # 4 while Nietes is # 7. Aside from the country?s world champions, the highest rated Cebu Boxer in the ratings is Z Gorres who?s ranked # 8 in the super flyweight division (115 lbs). Grizzled veteran Bert Batawang may draw some surprises but The Ring Magazine considers him # 10 in the light flyweight division (108 lbs).

Gorres had his second major fight (and second heartbreaker) in as many years when he fought current IBF/WBC/WBA super flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan to a split draw in an IBF title eliminator fight in Cebu?s biggest fight of the year in February. Gorres came back to defeat Nick Otieno by decision and is now aching to get back to the scene for what could be one last try to win it all.

Unfortunately for the ALA Boxing Gym, more heartbreaking losses hit them when AJ Banal lost to Panama?s Rafael Concepcion by TKO for the interim WBA super flyweight championship in June. Rey ?Boom Boom? Bautista also lost to Heriberto Ruiz by decision in his return to Las Vegas in November. Both losses overshadowed the two boxers? previous wins of 2008 which were classic and devastating.

The other major highlights of the year were the rise of other boxers to win regional championships, putting them a notch closer to world-level competition. ALA?s Michael Domingo, Milan Melindo and Jason Pagara copped WBO regional championship belts (Asia Pacific, Oriental or Youth). The others who also won WBO regional titles were Bert Batawang and Jhonreil Casimero. Also at the regional level, two of Cebu?s favorite boxers who spend much of their time fighting in Japan lost their titles. Long-time OPBF champion Randy Suico lost his OPBF lightweight championship in December while Rev Santillan lost in another attempt to regain his OPBF welterweight championship.

The major upside to boxing this year was how promoters didn?t hold back in hosting major events. ALA Promotions went all-out to stage the two biggest cards of the year: Gorres-Darchinyan at the Waterfront and Banal-Concepcion at Cebu Coliseum. Spliced in between were the Nietes defense and Gorres-Otieno events also at the Waterfront.

It may have taken awhile for SGG Promotions to re-establish his name Cebu Boxing, but 2008 was a banner year for Sammy Gello-ani. He staged two ?Daytime Boxing? events in Cebu in a tie-up with the Kokiet Group of Thailand, and added another similar activity in Zamboanga. He was also responsible for the ?Invasion Card? of Golden Boy Promotions that was held at the Araneta Coliseum in April. And if these weren?t enough, he was also busy organizing events with the goal of helping and discovering future world beaters out of his network of Mindanao gyms, stretching from Manny Pi?ol?s Braveheart stable to the Kenneth Rontal of Cagayan de Oro, Mayor Jojo Lopez of Maasim, Sarangani, and Cong. Erbie Fabian of Zamboanga. This network has produced 13 WBO regional champions including the likes of Marvin Sonsona, Anthony Marcial, Domingo, Batawang, Eric Canoy, Ramie Laput, Fernando Lumacad, Richie Mepranum and Casimero.

Cebu Boxing will also end the year as a big one for the local crew of boxing officials. Jonathan Davis, Salven Lagumbay, Edward Ligas, Teddy Alivio, Tony Pesons, Ben Necesario, Noel Flores, Edgar Olalo, and Edwin Barrientos have now been accredited with the WBO as judges or referees (or both), while some have added the IBF and WBA to their ledgers. Davis will stand out for being the only judge to score the Gorres-Darchinyan fight for Darchinyan in what was the bravest judging performance on local shores. He has now judged an IBF world championship fight in the United States where he is now based. For some, making trips outside the country to judge or be a referee has now become a norm. The strong foundation behind all of them is the solid pair of Celso Miranda and Lando Mendoza who have been through it all, quietly working behind the scenes to ensure that all boxing operations are run smoothly.

Cebu Boxing in 2008. We won some. We lost some. But learning a lot was a whole sum!

Top photo: Z Gorres (R) and Vic Darchinyan battled to a controversial split draw in their fight on February this last year.


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


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