Pedro Taduran
STAR/File
Rematch looms for Taduran
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 4, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — IBF minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran kept his promise to return home with the belt but would’ve preferred to knock out challenger Daniel Valladares instead of retaining the title on a technical majority draw at the end of the fourth round before a partisan crowd at the Jardin Cerveza Expo in Guadalupe city, Nuevo Leon state, Monterrey, Mexico last Saturday night.

Under pro boxing rules, a fight is declared a No-Contest if it’s stopped when a protagonist is unable to continue because of a wound inflicted by an accidental headbutt before the end of the fourth round. Previously, it was declared an automatic technical draw. But the change was initiated due to implications in settling bets. If a bout is stopped for the same reason after four rounds, the outcome is decided by the scorecards.

In Taduran’s case, Valladares suffered a gaping cut over the right eyebrow at 0:51 of the first round and referee Wes Melton of Phoenix ruled an accidental headbutt. Because Taduran is a southpaw and Valladares a right-hander, the incidence of accidental headbutting is theoretically higher than in a fight between two orthodox or two left-handed boxers. With blood spewing out of the 1 1/2-inch cut, Melton called for a doctor’s examination at 2:20 of the fourth round. The ringside physician gave Valladares the chance to finish the stanza. Realizing the fight will go to the scorecards if it’s stopped after the fourth, both boxers went all out on the attack. The bell rang to end the fourth round without a knockdown and Melton stopped the fight on the doctor’s recommendation.

Fight supervisor Aaron Kizer collated the scorecards of the three judges and ruled a technical majority decision. Judge John Basile of New York saw it 39-37, awarding the first three rounds to Valladares and the fourth to Taduran. Judge Jonny Davis of Anaheim and judge Ellis Johnson of Texas both had it 38-all as they scored the first two rounds for the Mexican and the next two for the Filipino. The Mexican TV panel had Taduran ahead after three rounds but withheld its score in the fourth which the Filipino clearly took. The TV panel would’ve been castigated by the hometown fans if it announced Taduran leading on points at the time of the stoppage.

Taduran, 23, admitted he felt the sting of Valladares’ blows but brushed it off. “Kaya ko makipagsabayan,” he said. “Masaya ako na hawak ko pa ang titulo. Sa tingin ko, lamang ako sa puntos. Binuhos ko ang lahat upang maiahon ang pamilya ko sa kahirapan.” Taduran is the eighth of nine children born to Pedro, Sr., a farmer, caretaker of animals and “itak” maker and Belencita, a barangay police officer. An older sister Jenny died of an undiagnosed illness last year. Taduran dedicated his win over countryman Samuel Salva to capture the vacant IBF crown last September in his sister’s memory.

While it lasted, the fight resembled a barroom brawl. MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, monitoring the fight on TV in Manila, called it World War III. “It was turning into a Fight of the Year,” he said. “It’s a shame there was a headbutt. Pedro would love to go to Mexico again for a rematch.”

Gibbons, who arranged the fight, will welcome Taduran and his traveling party home today. Tomorrow, Gibbons will present Taduran and WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero to media in a conference. Then, Gibbons will accompany Taduran to the Senate to make a courtesy call on Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Casimero will leave for the US on Thursday and work out in Miami under strength and conditioning coach Memo Heredia before relocating to Las Vegas on March 7 to hook up with Filipino trainer Nonoy Neri in preparation for his unification showdown with super WBA/IBF titlist Naoya Inoue of Japan on April 25.

“Valladares was more accurate in the first two rounds,” observed a ringsider. “But the cut hampered him in rounds three and four. He got weaker and probably would’ve continued to lose steam in the next rounds because of the injury. Officially, it was a stoppage at the start of the fifth round after the bell ended the fourth. Even if the fifth was scored, it would’ve been a 10-10 count with no punches thrown so it would still be a majority draw. It was like a war of attrition. The Mexican doctor asked the referee to stop the fight, claiming it might lead to more serious injury. Taduran would’ve had the edge in the long run. He starts slow but builds up a grinding pace to wear down his opponent eventually over the stretch.”

The ringsider described Valladares as methodical. “They were both aggressive but Valladares landed cleaner shots in the first round as he darted in and out while Taduran attacked,” he said. “Then, Taduran went to the body and Valladares began to fade, also because of his cut. If the fight continued, Taduran would’ve won by a knockout.”

The bout was originally scheduled at the Gimnasio Cedereg but moved to a beer garden where rowdy fans booed Taduran from start to finish. The atmosphere was festive as partisan fans cheered for Valladares, a hometown hero. Taduran wasn’t intimidated by the fans and never backed off to earn the respect of the Mexican crowd.  He weighed 104 1/2 pounds for the fight while Valladares checked in at 103 3/4, the lightest in his career for his first fight in the 105-pound division.

PEDRO TADURAN
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