SHINING IN THE RING: Pacman leads strong showing of Filipino boxers
The year that was saw the country having four world boxing champions—one on interim basis, proving once again that this side of the planet is home to some of its finest ring warriors.
To no one’s surprise, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao was again the top achiever. Not only did he cement his legacy as the world’ best boxer pound-for-pound, Pacquiao’s political career also shone brighter in 2016.
The congressman of Sarangani province claimed a seat in the Senate last May and became the only active senator-boxer in the world.
Before the May 2016 elections, Pacquiao picked up a crucial win when he defeated Timothy Bradley Jr. on April 9 in Las Vegas. Apart from bagging the vacant WBO International welterweight title, the unanimous decision (UD) win also allowed the Pacman to bounce back from a UD loss to Floyd Mayweather in May 2, 2015.
After the Mayweather fight, Pacquiao retired, perhaps to boost his Senate bid.
Pacquiao successfully snagged a slot in the upper chamber with 16,050,546 votes—good for seventh place.
Before becoming a senator, Pacquiao also made it to the professional basketball league when he was drafted as the 11th overall pick by the Mahindra Enforcers (now Floodbuster) in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft.
Barely three months after announcing his retirement, the eight-division world champion returned to the ring and scored a UD victory over Jessie Vargas to claim the WBO welterweight belt.
At 38 years old, Pacquiao (59W-6L-2D-38KOs) is still raring to slug it out. Reports had it that Pacquiao’s next outing this year could be against Terence Crawford. The two boxers are both under Top Rank of American promoter Bob Arum.
Also making big waves in 2016 were Jerwin Ancajas and Marlon Tapales.
Tapales shocked the boxing world when he stopped Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu via an 11th round technical knockout to snatch the WBO world bantamweight belt last July 27 in Ayutthaya, Thailand.
Tapales was supposed to defend the belt last December 30 in Tokyo, Japan against Takuma Inouie but the fight was canceled after the latter suffered an injury during training.
Adding to the growing list of Filipino world champions was Ancajas, who clinched the IBF world super flyweight title by nailing a UD win over McJoe Arroyo in Taguig City last Sept. 3.
Also getting a huge career boost was Milan Melindo, who nailed the interim IBF junior flyweight belt by outpointing Thailander Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. in the main event of Pinoy Pride 39: Road to Redemption last Nov. 26 at the Cebu Coliseum.
A bigger task awaits Melindo this year against regular IBF junior flyweight champion Akira Yaegashi of Japan.
Eyeing bigger fights
The country could have five world champions at the end of 2016 but John Riel Casimero and Donnie Nietes decided to relinquish their belts to move up to the heavier divisions.
Nietes vacated his WBO light flyweight title and moved up to flyweight where he debuted with a UD win over Mexico’s Edgar Sosa in California, USA last September.
Casimero also announced last December that he was vacating the IBF world flyweight title to move up to super flyweight.
While there were success stories, some Filipino boxers also had to endure heartbreaks.
Nonito “Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. lost his WBO World super bantamweight title when he bowed to Jessie Magdaleno via UD in Las Vegas, Nevada last Nov. 5.
Albert Pagara saw his unbeaten streak come to an end after he got knocked out in the eighth round by Cesar Juarez in San Mateo, California last July.
Pagara returned to action last November but was unimpressive in his unanimous decision win over Ghana’s Raymond Commey at the Cebu Coliseum.
While all eyes will be on the established stars this year, up and coming boxers are expected to get a share of the spotlight.
One of the fighters to watch our for is Mark Magsayo of ALA Boxing Gym, who has yet to lose in 15 fights.
Owner of 11 knockout victories, Magsayo scored a sensational sixth-round TKO win over American Chris Avalos last April at the Cebu City Sports Center.
Avalos seemed headed to dealing Magsayo his first loss when he dropped the latter in third. Magsayo, however, put up a tremendous fight back and forced Avalos to quit before the start of the sixth.
Over at the Omega Boxing Gym, the unbeaten Jhack Tepora is hoping to have a banner year as he continues to aspire for a world title.
Unbeaten in 19 fights with 14 knockout victories, Tepora is the reigning WBO Oriental super bantamweight and WBO Asia-Pacific Youth super bantamweight champion.
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