Gabunilas stops Almacen in 5th, wrests OPBF youth belt
CEBU CITY, Philippines — ARQ Boxing Stable’s Johnpaul Gabunilas wrested the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) Youth flyweight title by knocking out Jonathan Almacen in the main event of “Engkwentro Tres” on Wednesday, December 22, at the ARQ Boxing Gym in Cebu City.
Gabunilas, one of ARQ Boxing Stable’s banner boxers scored a fifth-round stoppage of Almacen in their scheduled eight-round duel.
The flashy Gabunilas of Cebu City dictated most of the bout from round one to five by utilizing his height and reach advantage.
In the fifth round, Gabunilas, a former amateur standout, landed a left uppercut straight to Almacen’s solar plexus.
It took a few seconds for Almacen to feel the pain from the vicious body shot before going down to his knees.
The Muntinlupa City native then grimaced in pain. He gallantly tried to beat the referee’s count but was a little too late to stand.
With the victory, Gabunilas improved his record to five wins with four knockouts along with one defeat.
Almacen suffered his fifth loss with seven wins, two knockouts, and two draws.
Before fighting Gabunilas, Almacen fought two-division world champion Hekkie Budler of South Africa for the WBC silver flyweight title in South Africa this year.
He lost to Budler via unanimous decision.
Despite that vast experience, he fell short against the crafty Gabunilas.
The victory was extra special for Gabunilas who was sidelined for almost two months when he suffered an injury during training.
Gabunilas supposedly fights Jerome Baloro last October 30 in Engkwentro Dos but the matchup was scrapped due to his injury.
Meanwhile, the reigning OPBF silver flyweight champion, April Jay “Astro Boy” Abne lost to Garen Diagan of Manila in their non-title bout in the fight card’s co-main event.
Diagan, a huge underdog against Abne, knocked the latter cold in the first round.
The stinging loss stained Abne’s erstwhile unbeaten record of seven wins with three knockouts.
With the stunning first-round knockout win, Diagan improved to an 8-1 (win-loss) record with four knockouts and extended his winning streak to five.
On the other hand, Abne’s younger siblings Augusto and Ian Abne won their respective bouts.
Augusto beat Edcel Poquita via unanimous decision while Ian scored a technical knockout win against Jomarie Ladera.
The rest of ARQ Boxing Stables’ winning pugs were Brix Piala against Jude Jaiten by TKO and Berland Robles vs. Isagani Saludar via TKO as well.
Lastly, Rodex Piala scored a unanimous decision win against Emmanuel Mogawa. /rcg
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