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Sports

Pinoy pugs in do-or-die bouts

- Joaquin M. Henson -

The future is in the balance for unbeaten knockout artist Drian Francisco and rugged Rexon Flores who take on Thai opponents in a double WBO regional championship card at the Elorde Sports Center in Sucat tonight.

Promoter Gabriel (Bebot) Elorde Jr. said yesterday WBO Asia-Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo has promised big fights for both before the year ends if they score decisive wins. 

“It’s do-or-die for Drian and Rexon,” said Elorde. “This is their chance. There’s no tomorrow. Losing is not an option.”

The pressure weighs heavily on Flores’ shoulders because he is now ranked No. 1 by the WBO in the lightflyweight division. He can’t afford to lose to Terdkiet Jundaeng in their grudge 12-round rematch and throw away the opportunity to face WBO 108-pound titlist Hugo Cazares of Guadalajara as mandatory challenger. Besides, Flores’ WBO Intercontinental lightflyweight title belt is on the line.

If Flores beats Terdkiet, Elorde said his next fight will be against Cazares in Guadalajara in September.

“For Rexon, this is his second life,” said Elorde. “Last year, he lost a decision to WBO flyweight champion Omar Narvaes in Argentina. It wasn’t the right weight for him. Now, Rexon is down to lightflyweight and he’s more comfortable. He’s a slugger so he relies on his power to win. He couldn’t bring his power up to flyweight. He’s much stronger at 108 than 112.”

Flores, 24, hacked out a unanimous 12-round decision over Terdkiet to win the WBO Asia-Pacific lightflyweight crown in Bacoor last year. He couldn’t take out the Thai who proved stubborn and durable but in their return bout tonight, the Cadiz City slugger vowed to win by knockout.

Terdkiet was scheduled to face Yo Sam Choi for the vacant WBO Intercontinental lightflyweight title in Seoul on Aug. 15 but backed out for the chance to avenge his defeat to Flores whose record is 17-3-4, with nine KOs.

As for Francisco, Elorde said he also has big plans for the San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, southpaw known as “Little Espinosa” because his style is similar to the two-time world champion’s. With former world flyweight titleholder Erbito Salavarria as his trainer, Francisco has emerged as one of the country’s hottest prospects for another championship.

Francisco, 24, boasts a 12-0 record, with nine KOs. Elorde said what makes him special is he’s a college graduate with a degree from San Sebastian College in San Jose. Francisco is ranked No. 4 by the WBO in the flyweight division and Panoncillo said a win over Wanmeechok Singwancha in their 12-round bout tonight will set him up for a title fight against Narvaes in December. Francisco will defend his WBO Asia-Pacific flyweight diadem against Singwancha.

Francisco isn’t only after a shot at Narvaes but also the chance to avenge his stablemate Flores’ loss to the Argentinian. He’s a man on a mission and Elorde said he’s destined to follow in the footsteps of his idol Espinosa.

Singwancha, 30, is a veteran southpaw with a 16-5 record, including 11 KOs. He holds wins over Filipinos Edgar Rodrigo (KO3), Tata Polinar (KO1), Sonny Gonzales (KO3), Jerry Pahayahay, Dondon Jimenea and Philip Parcon. He’ll use his experience to neutralize Francisco’s advantage in youth. Francisco has beaten two Thais so far and Singwancha will keep that in mind when the bell rings.

The card is sponsored by Lonsdale London, the famous English manufacturer of boxing apparel and equipment.  Flores and Francisco will wear Lonsdale robes, shorts and boots tonight. Lonsdale products are available for sale in Elorde gyms all over the country.

There will be seven amateur bouts and a special four-round attraction featuring female flyweights Geremie Tabastabas against Marnelle Verano before the nine-fight, 64-round pro card begins.

“This is Lonsdale’s first event in the Philippines and we’re excited to put on a show that we guarantee, will be action-packed from start to finish,” said Elorde. “Big-time boxing is back in Parañaque and with Lonsdale as our partner, we hope to produce more blockbuster cards in the future.”

CITY

ELORDE

FRANCISCO

LONSDALE

PLACE

WBO

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