2008 Year Of The Pacquiao
- The Freeman () - January 2, 2009 - 12:00am

CEBU - The story of Year 2008 in Philippine sports is all about Manny Pacquiao. That is beyond argument even if you ask literally a two-year old kid, so to speak. No other fighter in the world can equal or even just come close to what Pacman has achieved the past year. And to quote from our previous article, “the dictionary may run out of words and the thesaurus may declare bankruptcy to describe what had been an unbelievable year for the country’s national treasure.”

For his phenomenal success emanating from a typical “from rags-to-riches” tale, Pacquiao has undoutedly entered the hallowed portals of boxing greats in history. His townmates in General Santos City did just the right thing in building a statue of him as a tribute to his sublime workmanship in the ring that has opened an avalanche of opportunities for the country.

In 2008, Pacquiao etched his name in stone as the first Asian boxer to win three successive fights in different weight divisions. He battled his way through a close but well-deserved split decision victory over Juan Manuel Marquez to clinch the WBC super feathertweight belt, snatched David Diaz’s WBC lightweight crown via a brutal ninth round stoppage, and then ruthlessly punished boxing’s “Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya in eight rounds of one-sided destruction in a welterweight bout.

What made Pacquiao’s stunning triumph over De la Hoya even more sweeter was that he was the heavy underdog. Almost all ring experts prognosticated it was one hell of a distaster, a huge mistmatch of sort on grounds that De la Hoya is too big and too tall for Pacquiao.

Indeed it was, only in favor of the lion-hearted, super Pacman.

In the local scene, the year started and ended with Manny Pacquiao even if he’s not a product of Cebu boxing. 

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 Peñalosa 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 .

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 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 Piñol’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 in 2008. We won some. We lost some. But learning a lot was a whole sum.

Here’s The Freeman’s summary of “The Year That Was” in sports:

Athletics

*Cebuana Leizl Lumindas-Gitaruelas and Davao ’s Elmer Bartolo were declared as the first RP half-marathon record holders by the PATAFA after ruling the Mizuno Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon at the AsiantownIT Park in Lahug,Cebu City. Bartolo logged 1:11:10.95 while Gitaruelas clocked 1:28:05.21.

*Cebu breaks the record in Milo Marathon in terms of number of participants with 24, 270. Madelyn Carter and Rogelio Reli ruled their respective classes but Reli failed to finish in the national finals while Carter landed eighth overall.

*Jamaican Usain Bolt became the fastest man of earth after a record-breaking performances in the century dash and 200m run of the Beijing Olympics.

Basketball

*Renauld “Sonny” Barios was named as PBA commissioner.He replaced Noli Eala who resigned last year for personal reasons.

* The East beats West in the 57th National Basketball Association All-Star Game in New Orleans , Louisiana with Lebron James emerging as the All-Star MVP.

*Southwestern University stunned the heavily-favored University of the Visayas in the sudden-death final, 87-82, to rule the 62nd National Students Basketball Championships at the Cebu Colisuem.

*The Sta.Lucia Realty ended a seven-year drought by bagging the PBA Smart Philippine Cup over Purefoods Tender Juicy,100-88 at the Araneta Coliseum as the half-Cebuano-American Kelly Williams emerged as the finals MVP.

*Los Angeles Lakers’ star Kobe Bryant bags his first MVP award in the NBA.

*The Boston Celtics humiliated the Los Angeles Lakers to win their first NBA title since 1986. Paul Pierce was named finals MVP.

*Cebu-based American basketball player Daryl Smith, a former PBA import died after a basketball game in Liloan due heart failure caused by overfatigue.

*The M.Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños etched its name in history books by dominating the maiden season of the Liga Pilipinas.

*The University of the Visayas (UV) Lancers missed a double victory. The UV bantams faltered at the hands of the University of Cebu, while their seniors counterparts scored a record eight straight championship in the CESAFI cage wars.

*The Sacred Heart School-Jesuit Eagles win their first Visayas Passerelle title. Ditto with University San Carlos-North in the SBP class of the Milo BEST Tournament.

Boxing

*Tragedy struck Philippine boxing when Alex “The Maasin Bomber” Aroy died a few hours after losing to Arnel Tadena by unanimous decision in a 10-round bout in Villaba, Leyte.

*Floyd Mayweather Jr. announces his retirement from professional boxing. He had won five belts and an Olympic bronze.

*AJ “Bazooka” Banal suffered its first defeat after he succumbed to the hands of Panama’s Rafael “El Torito” Concepcion by 10th round knockout in their WBA super flyweight championship dubbed “Laban Na Banal” at the Cebu Coliseum.

*Nonito Donaire was awarded with the “Knockout of the Year” by the World Boxing Hall of Fame following his fifth round stoppage of the previously undefeated Australian KO artist Vic Darchinyan to seize the twin IBF/IBO bets in Connecticut.

*Ricky Hatton reinforced his reputation as the world’s best light welterweight following a TKO victory over Paul Malignaggi.

Bowling

*Cebuana Kim Lao wins the National Open and Youth Championships at the Green Valley Bowling Center in Pasig City as fellow Cebuano RP member Jomar Jumapao landed second in the masters division.

Chess

*Cebuano Joseph Sanchez became RP’s 10th grandmaster after he achieved his third and final GM norm via the Festival des Jeux International Chess tournament in Cannes , France .

*World champions Donnie Nietes and Gerry Peñalosa were named co-Athletes of the Year in the 26th Sportswriters Association of Cebu(SAC)-San Miguel Corporation All-Cebu Sports Awards at Laguna Garden Café.

Cycling

*Spain ‘s Carlos Sastre emerges as Tour de France’s overall winner after a gruelling 21-stage action.

Dancesport

*Dancesport-Team Cebu City BAGS 14 golds, seven silver and three bronzes as Mandaue ended with two silvers and three bronzes in the 2008 DSCPI First Quarterly Ranking and Competition at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

*Dancesport-Cebu City wins four golds in a dancesport competition in Blackpool, England through Ricca Alix, Renante Saldua, Eleanor Hayco, and Crisaldo Rendon.

Football

Brazil ’s striker Ronaldo says sorry, embarrassed and ashamed about his highly publicized encounter with three publicized three cross-dressing prostitutes.

*Cebu International School rules the boys16 division of the popular Alaska Cup in Manila plus an MVP award for Emmanuel Cunningham.

Golf

*RP’s Jennifer Rosales and Dorothy Delasin win the Women’s World Cup of Golf in Sun City , South Africa .

*American Phil Mickelson breaks home-soil jinx to win the PGA’s 6.2 million dollar Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles, California.

*Tiger Woods captured his third US Open title by a sudden death with Rocco Mediate in San Diego, California .

Lawn Tennis

*Novak Djokovic has overcome injury to become Serbia’s first Grand Slam singles champion, claiming the Australian Open men’s crown with a four-set win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while the distaff side had Maria Sharapova coming out victorous at Melbourne Park.

*Monica Seles officially retires from tennis, five years after she played the last match of her career that included nine Grand slam singles titles.

*Belgian Justine Henin became the first woman to retire while ranked no.1 by the WTA.

*Cebuana Sally Mae Siso came up with a double victory in the 2008 Langkawi International Age-group Championships after ruling the girl ’14-under singles and the doubles competition along with a South African partner.

Motocross

*Cebuano Jon-Jon Adlawan ranked eigth in the Philippine leg of the FIM Motocross Masters of Asia in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.He also won the National Open experts class.

Olympics

*Host China won the overall crown with 51 golds, 21 silvers and 28 bronzes.

Volleyball

*Southwestern University tops the 12th Nestea Beach Volleyball National crown in Boracay, preventing the back-to-back title bid of University of the Visayas’ Jusabelle Brillo and Janez Igot.

*The country’s biggest volleyball event, the Governor Gwen Garcia Unity Volleyball Cup for Women, set a record-field entries of 44 municipalities and eight cities spread into seven clusters.                

*Lapu-Lapu City retains its City Cluster crown in the 4th GUV Cup, with its prized player Jusabelle Brillo romping off with the MVP award. In the Municipal Cluster, Catmon dethrones Liloan.

Swimming

American Michael Phelps became one of the best athletes of all time after winning eight golds in record-establishing fashion at the Beijing Olympics. He broke fellow American Mark Spitz’s seven-gold collection during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Wushu

*Cebuana Richelle Marie Ng and Maribeth Camello won a gold each in the 2008 National Wushu Championships at Mall of Asia.

Weightlifting

*Cebuana Kelle Kay Rojas broke a national record in the snatch and clean and jerk on her way to winning two golds in the 2008 Asian Junior and Youth Weightlifting Championships in South Korea. fellow Cebuana Angelica Lado debuted with a bronze. (THE FREEMAN)

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