Abandoned son out for recognition
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2019 - 12:00am

A 19-year-old southpaw from Davao City is fighting for the Ultimate Boxing Series (UBS) bantamweight title at the TV5 studios in Novaliches on Sunday but it isn’t the championship that’s foremost in his mind. Lienard Sarcon was abandoned by his father at birth and by his mother when he was nine. All he wants is to get his family together again and winning the crown might just make it happen.

Sarcon never knew his father. Someone said his father was former boxer Aniceto Rabacal but who can be sure? A search on boxrec, the authoritative on-line keeper of fighters’ records all over the world, found nothing on Rabacal. Sarcon said he’s close to half-brother Jason Kim, whose father is Korean, but doesn’t know his three other half-siblings. He was told one of his brothers, whom he has never met, will show up for his fight on Sunday.

Sarcon’s mother Julie made a scene when she unexpectedly appeared during his UBS semifinal fight against Gerry Tamayo a month back. Sarcon hadn’t seen her in 10 years. She insisted she never walked out on him. But the fact is Sarcon was left on his own when she left, sleeping in jeepneys, surviving on instinct and finding company with troublesome teenage gangs. At 12, Sarcon nearly died. It was 3 a.m. and Sarcon and his gangmates were throwing buckets of water on passengers in moving jeepneys for fun. Suddenly, a motorcyclist burst into the scene and rammed Sarcon unconscious to the ground. Sarcon woke up in the hospital with a brace on his neck and stitches on his left pinky finger. He was confined for a week.

Two years after the accident, Sarcon was invited to the gym by trainer Alberto Gaballo who thought of transforming the delinquent into a boxer. Slowly, Sarcon began to display signs of promise. He grew to be 5-8 and his 67-inch wingspan was another asset.

When two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa announced tryouts for the UBS in Mindanao, Sarcon joined the boxoffs. He impressed Davao coordinator Nonoy Neri and was brought to Manila to participate in the two-tier eliminations on the way to the UBS final. Sarcon halted Rimon Rama in the fourth round in his first outing then scored a split six-round decision over Tamayo in his second to raise his record to 6-0, with 2 KOs. On Sunday, he’ll go for the title against Marty Elorde’s protégé Aljum Pelesio in an eight-rounder.

Pelesio, 21, is known as the Misamis Oriental “Nightmare.” Like Sarcon, he’s unbeaten. Sarcon has never fought in an eight-rounder but Pelesio has so that’s an advantage in experience. Last year, Pelesio outpointed Enrique Magsalin in eight rounds in Sucat. In the UBS, Pelesio ousted two previously unbeaten contenders Dave Berlas and John Mark Tihuk, both on points, to improve his record to 9-0, with 5 KOs.

The second of four children, Pelesio said fighting a southpaw like Sarcon is no problem. “Diskarte lang yan,” he said. “Matangkad siya sa akin ng five inches at mas mahaba siya. Pero boksing ang sport namin, hindi basketball. Bale wala ang height sa loob ng ring. Sasagasaan ko siya at papasukin ko. Hindi ko siya pagpapahinga.”

Pelesio said he draws inspiration from his idols Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr., Danny Garcia and Albert Pagara. Asked if Sarcon is in his class, Pelesio said it’s not his style to judge others. “Siguro pareho kaming magagaling,” he said. “Kaya nga nasa final kami. Basta ibibigay ko ang lahat at matira ang matibay.”

Sarcon said he’s been through too much in life to let this chance of gaining recognition slip away. “Makilala sana ng lahat kung sino ako,” he said. “Nanggaling ako sa hirap. Hindi ko aaksayahin itong pagkakataon na sumikat. Alam ko si Pelesio insayado at ako rin. Hindi ako lalayo sa kaniya sa laban. Gagamit ako ng height at reach advantage ko pero hindi ako tatakbo. Uunahan ko siya. Malalaman natin kung sino sa amin ang magtatagumpay.”

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