Title fights on hold

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star
Title fights on hold
First in the queue is Giemel Magramo who was scheduled to face Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight throne at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, on April 4.
PM / File

MANILA, Philippines — Five Filipino boxers in line for world title bouts are in cold storage for the moment while the world grapples with the coronavirus crisis but they’re staying safe and healthy to make sure when the fight dates are confirmed, it’ll be a smooth transition back to the ring.

First in the queue is Giemel Magramo who was scheduled to face Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight throne at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, on April 4. Magramo is ranked No. 1 by the WBO in the 112-pound division while Nakatani is No. 3. It’s expected that the winner of the Magramo-Nakatani duel will stake the crown against No. 2 Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico in his first defense.

According to Liza Elorde, the Magramo-Nakatani fight has been reset to June 6 but confirmation will depend on the situation in Japan. A state of emergency was recently declared in Tokyo and six other prefectures up to May 6. The Japanese government, however, isn’t enforcing a lockdown. The measures in the state of emergency include a request to cancel or postpone events and exhibits.

Second in the list is IBF superflyweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas who was set to defend his crown against No. 3 contender Jonathan Rodriguez of Mexico at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas on Saturday. The fight has been called off. It would’ve been Ancajas’ ninth title defense. MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said the fight may be reset to June but like in Magramo’s case, it will depend on the coronavirus situation. Top Rank CEO Bob Arum wouldn’t venture a guess as to when things will normalize.

Ancajas trained in Dipolog for a month before relocating back to his home base at the Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite. He continues to work out with manager/trainer Joven Jimenez. “Focused lang kami sa training,” said Jimenez. “Ituloy kaagad ang laban pag naayos na ang COVID-19.”

Third is WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero who was slated to take on super WBA/IBF king Naoya Inoue in a triple unification showdown at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on April 25. Casimero left Manila to train in Miami last February and is now in Las Vegas with trainer Nonoy Neri, cutman Ting Ariosa and his brother Jayson.

Gibbons said the Casimero-Inoue fight could happen in early July if things stabilize. “Casimero’s in great shape,” said Gibbons after visiting the fighter in a rented Las Vegas home the other day. “We’re setting up a gym at the house. He’s looking fantastic. We’ll do a gameplan for the next 90 days and I’ll speak to Mr. Bob for a possible fight date.” Inoue trained in Guam for a few weeks then went back to Tokyo.

Fourth is WBC No. 8 contender Marco John Rementizo who was to face long-time WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin of Thailand in Palm Springs, California, on April 25. Rementizo, 21, has won his last four outings by KO, including a seventh round stoppage of Siridech Deebok in Thailand. Wanheng, 34, holds the record for most wins in an unbeaten career as a reigning world champion with 54-0, including 18 KOs and would’ve made his 13th title defense. Four of the 12 challengers he has repulsed were Filipinos Pedro Taduran, Melvin Jerusalem, Jerry Tomogdan and Jeffrey Galero.

Rementizo, a Cagayan de Oro native, has a 12-3 record, with 9 KOs. Wanheng has never fought outside of Thailand but now that he’s under contract with Golden Boy, Oscar de la Hoya wants to expose him to the US market at Rementizo’s expense. Two of Rementizo’s three losses were by first round knockout to countrymen Samuel Salva and M. J. Bo.

Fifth is WBC No. 1 contender Nonito Donaire Jr. who is next to challenge WBC bantamweight champion Nordine Oubaali of France. Promoter Tom Brown won the purse bid to stage the fight which was supposed to be in Los Angeles in the second week of April. Donaire is at home in Las Vegas and said he’ll open training camp in San Mateo, California, once the fight date is finalized.

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