Ring awardees night

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - February 26, 2002 - 12:00am
The first Gabriel (Flash) Elorde Boxing Awards Night last year was a resounding success — not as a moneymaker but as a vehicle to unite and honor the country’s fistic heroes.

The Elorde family lost money in staging the affair at the Manila Hotel — nothing unusual for local ring promoters who make up for the red ink by exporting fighters abroad to bring back precious dollars. It wasn’t a cheap show. Paying for the food, drinks and ballroom rental hit the Elordes deep in their pockets. Then there were the plaques, props, and the traditional accouterments. The Elordes also paid for the event to be televised. Unfortunately, not too many sponsors queued to defray the expenses.

After losing a bundle, the consensus was the Elordes wouldn’t stage a repeat. But obviously, the family is made of sterner stuff. The Elordes’ love for boxing goes beyond pesos and centavos. Theirs is an unflinching devotion to the sport which made a legend out of D’Flash who reigned as world junior lightweight champion from 1960 to 1967.

The Awards Night is the Elordes’ expression of giving back to the sport that catapulted D’Flash, a former bootblack, from rags to riches. It’s an event that the Elordes hope to institutionalize — as a tribute to the Filipino fighter and a reminder of his glorious exploits. It is a testament that boxing is alive and well in the Philippines.

So on March 25 — D’Flash’s 67th birthday, the stage is set for the second Elorde Boxing Awards Night at the Hotel Intercontinental.

International Boxing Federation (IBF) superbantamweight titlist Manny Pacquiao, who failed to show up for last year’s event, will be honored as Boxer of the Year and the Most Popular and Exciting Fighter. The country’s only reigning world champion is sure to attend this time.

Last year, Pacquiao and Gerry Peñalosa were cited as the Most Popular and Exciting Fighters. Named Boxer of the Year was Malcolm Tunacao even if he’d lost his World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight crown three weeks earlier. The award, after all, was for Tunacao’s achievement in the year 2000 — when he knocked out Medgeon 3-K Battery for the WBC diadem in Udonthani, Thailand.

The other major awardees were Erbito Salavarria as Best Trainer, Silvestre Abainza as Best Referee, Alex Villacampa as Best Judge, Felixberto Jardenil as Best Matchmaker, and the Abner Cordero versus Ricky Gamayo brawl for the Philippine bantamweight title as Best Fight of the Year.

Aside from Pacquiao, this year’s major awardees are Mario Lumacad as Best Trainer, Vic Rodriguez as Best Judge, Ferdinand Estrella as Best Referee, and Jardenil once more as Best Matchmaker. The Best Fight of the Year is still being decided.

Lumacad, who spent several years training Indonesian fighters on contract in Surabaya, will be honored for piloting Dennis Laurente from back-to-back losses to the Orient and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) lightweight title.

Rodriguez worked 10 IBF world title fights as a judge before moving to the WBC last year. His first WBC assignment was the Willie Jorrin-Osamu Sato bout for the superbantamweight crown in Tokyo early this month. Jorrin retained the crown on a controversial majority draw. Rodriguez scored it 113-all and Italian Massimo Barrovecchio, 114-all, to offset Thai judge Noparat Sricharoen’s 114-112 count for Sato.

The Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) protested Barrovecchio’s scorecard but upheld Rodriguez’ judgment as fair. Barrovecchio erred in scoring the third round, 10-8 for Jorrin despite Sato falling twice for eight-counts. Rodriguez and Noparat had it 10-7. In the 12th round which was clearly Sato’s, Barrovecchio saw it 10-all which resulted in a 114-all draw. If Barrovecchio scored the final round 10-9 for Sato, the Japanese would’ve dethroned Jorrin on a split decision. In world title fights, scoring 10-all in a round is considered an indication of indecision.

The scuttlebutt was Barrovecchio realized his mistake in not scoring 10-7 in the third and compensated in the final round.

"When you score a fight, you don’t keep a running total in your mind to divorce yourself from any bias," said Rodriguez who with Noparat, scored the last six rounds for Sato.

Estrella, whose late father Max was a long-time Makati Mayor, is a fixture in Pan Asia Boxing Association (PABA) championship fights and a licensed referee by the World Boxing Association (WBA). He’s known for his impartiality, decisiveness, and competence.

Jardenil is everyone’s choice as Best Matchmaker. His services are contracted by promoters all over the country.

The Elordes are also giving a special award to New Zealander Bruce McTavish who has lived in the Philippines the last 35 years. McTavish is married to a Filipina, Carmen Tayag, and they live in Angeles City with their two daughters. McTavish is well-known in Pampanga for his socio-civic work. He would’ve been a hands-down choice as Best Referee and Best Judge two years in a row except the Elordes decided to honor only Filipino natives. While McTavish is more Filipino than most Filipinos you and I know, he doesn’t qualify under the circumstances. Still, he will be recognized as one of the world’s best and busiest international referees–a credit to his adopted country.

A new award to be introduced this year is the Most Promising Fighter–the country’s No. 1 minimumweight contender and unbeaten Rodel Mayol will be the first recipient.

Also to be cited are the Filipinos who reigned as champions in the year 2001–the honor roll lists 28 fighters.

For sure, D’Flash will be there, too in spirit to salute the gallant gladiators who followed in his footsteps.

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