Proudly Pinoy in Dubai

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2014 - 12:00am

In the 27th edition of the “Pinoy Pride” boxing series, ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer took the event overseas for the first time and Dubai was a perfect choice as the destination. The affair was held at the World Trade Center last Sept. 5 and as expected, Filipinos jammed the venue. It was reported that 2,600 tickets were issued for the event and nothing was left in the box office.

“We had a sellout crowd,” said Aldeguer. “We had to open the gates earlier than the time we announced as the people were piling up as early as 3 p.m. We previously announced gates to be open by 5 p.m. since the first fight was scheduled at 7 p.m. I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic and passionate crowd who cheered non-stop, especially when our Filipino fighters got into the ring. The Filipino support was amazing and we appreciate the warmth we felt very much. We were overwhelmed by the number of Filipino supporters. In fact, they took up 80 to 90 percent of the audience. It felt like the event was staged in the Philippines, not in Dubai.”

Three Filipino fighters from the ALA stable topped the bill and they gave the Filipino fans reason to cheer. Two were unbeaten contenders – superbantamweight Genesis (Azukal) Servania and superflyweight King Arthur Villanueva. The other was the well-traveled, highly-popular Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista. They all emerged victorious.

Servania, 23, raised his record to 25-0, with 11 KOs, in halting Mexico’s Jose (Matador) Cabrera in the 10th round. Villanueva, 25, pounded out a split 12-round verdict over Nicaragua’s Henry Maldonado to improve his mark to 26-0, with 14 KOs. Bautista, 28, defeated Mexico’s Juan Jose Martinez via a seventh round technical majority decision.

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“They did quite well, mainly because we knew their opponents were worthy enough of the skills the three had,” said Aldeguer. “This is because in ‘Pinoy Pride,’ we do our best to bring in the right opponents who really come to win. Cabrera, Maldonado and Martinez are fighters who give good fights and certainly brought the best out of our three Filipino fighters. Although not to the level we expect him to be at, Boom Boom has improved a lot. He showed some promise and improvement in his fight which is a good thing.”

Bautista remains a marketable fighter and crowd drawer in the ALA camp. He’s a relentless warrior who never takes a back step even when he has to. Back in 2007, Boom Boom was unbeaten when he faced Mexico’s fearsome Daniel Ponce de Leon for the WBO superbantamweight crown. He was only 21 and oozing with confidence. At the sound of the first bell, Bautista stormed out of his corner smoking. Ponce de Leon took advantage of Bautista’s immaturity to score a shock first round stoppage. Since the tragedy, Bautista has moved on to log 15 more fights. Boom Boom has now won 10 of his last 11 outings to boost his record to 36-3, with 25 KOs. Fully recovered from surgery to replace a shattered bone in his left wrist that took him out of commission for nearly a year, Bautista is aching to get another world title shot.

“Boom Boom is still a work in progress,” said Aldeguer. “He needs a couple of more years to bring his old self back but he’s definitely improving. Boom Boom has a long way to go but on the good side, he has shown a lot of improvements which is something we could definitely work on.”

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As for Servania and Villanueva, Aldeguer said the sky’s the limit. “Any of the world champions available late next year will be worth looking at as opponents for both fighters,” said Aldeguer. “Genesis, Arthur and Boom Boom have heart and determination which are very important in fighters. In boxing, you need both to be successful. Another of Genesis’ strengths is his versatility. He can easily adjust to his opponents while Arthur is a thinking fighter which is obvious in the way he maintains his presence of mind in the ring and how he calculates his moves.”

Aldeguer said with unbeaten WBO/WBA superbantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux lording it over the 122-pound division, Servania may need a bit more polishing before challenging the Cuban. “In Genesis’ division, there’s Rigondeaux and for that fight, he’ll still need more time to get ready,” said Aldeguer. “It would really depend on the opponent if Genesis is ready or not for a world title match. For Arthur, we’ll test him in a couple of more fights until we see he’s totally ready for a world title shot.”

Servania has compiled a list of world-class victims including Indonesia’s Angky Angkotta, Panama’s Rafael Concepcion and Venezuela’s Alexander Munoz. Angkotta has beaten reigning WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes and former world champions Joma Gamboa and Sonny Boy Jaro. Concepcion once stopped Servania’s stablemate A. J. Banal and went the distance with Nonito Donaire, Jr. Munoz is a former WBA superflyweight champion. Villanueva’s most prominent victim is Thai veteran Pramuansak Posuwan who entered the ring to face King Arthur with a 45-4 record, including 24 KOs, in 2012. The Thai was dropped twice, lost a unanimous decision and never fought again.

Aldeguer said the world is opening up for “Pinoy Pride” and he’s excited to stage more overseas events. “We’re looking at doing another international promotion in 2015 then another in 2016,” he said. “We initially planned for Los Angeles and San Diego as our base. With the success of Dubai, we’re also looking at developing the boxing industry in the Middle East. As for our fighters, we see them campaigning not just in Mexico and the US in the future but hopefully, in other countries as well.”

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