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GMA-7 unveils program for aspiring boxers

CEBU, Philippines - Buoyed by the ardent desire of developing and discovering boxing superstars in the future, GMA-7 Network formally launched yesterday a novel sports program to benefit young fighters who want to follow in the footsteps of global ring icon Manny Pacquiao and other luminaries of Philippines boxing.

Spearheaded by GMA senior sports correspondent Chino Trinidad assisted by former two-division world champion Gerry "Fearless" Peñalosa and conditioning coach Christopher Callanta, the reality sports program dubbed as 'Buhay Boksingero' will air on April 24, with boxing hotbed Cebu City as its initial breeding ground.

It will show the struggle and success of young hopefuls in their quest to be the next Pacquiao or Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr.

"We are commited to finding the diamonds in the rough, to find the best young talents in the country," said Trinidad during a news conference at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

"This is just a way for GMA to help the young boxers of the country. Aalalayan natin tong mga batang to and give them the right foundation for their chosen field," added Trinidad, whose extensive coverage of the life, career and victories of Pacquiao inspired him to conceptualize a program for struggling boxers.

Peñalosa, who decided to hang up his gloves after a colorful 21-year pro career, said he will share his knowledge to aspiring pugs for them to not only gain exposure, but to acquire skills for their future fights.

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On the other end, Callanta will be manning the conditioning of the athletes, giving them the privilege in proper nutrition which he describes as the most important foundation for a young fighter.

"Yung skills na sa atin na yan eh, ang goal natin dito is to give them proper nutrition and developing their strength that will make us even with the international fighters," said Callanta.

Competition will be under five weight divisions: 108 lbs., 112 lbs., 115 lbs., 120 lbs. and 130 lbs. Each division is composed of 20 boxers who will slug it out for supremacy. They will suke it out in four-round elimination stages, with the winners advancing to semifinals and finals phase this July.

The first of the 18 bouts will be held on March 13 at the Mandaue City Plaza Square.

The participating clubs include SSG Promotions, Rex "Wakee" Salud (RWS) Gym, IPI-Omega Gym, Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) Stable, Sta.Cruz Stable of Talisay City, TI Cebu Gym, Phil-Aust Boxing Club and CMAC Gym.

Fighters who will come out champions or show potential to make it bid will be groomed and given special training for them to be able to further pursue their prize-fighting dreams.

"Boxing has almost single-handedly put the Philippines back into the world map with now congressman Manny Pacquiao at the forefront. That better way to encourage and promote the sport than having actual boxing-reality program for the promising talents in the region," said Rikki Escudero, GMA-7 VP for Regional TV, N & PA and Expansion Services.

"Through this show, GMA Network is here to give them the opportunity that would help them grow as fighters, which would otherwise not be just as readily available for them," Escudero added. (FREEMAN)

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