Manny backs Magramo’s bid

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
Manny backs Magramo�s bid
Giemel Magramo
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Super WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao has sent a message of support to Giemel Magramo who battles unbeaten Japanese southpaw Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight crown at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Aug. 1.

“Wish him all the best and may God bless him and give him strength and protection as he is going to fight,” said Pacquiao. “May the good Lord give him extraordinary skill during the battle in Jesus’ name.”

Magramo’s coming bout is particularly relevant to Pacquiao. First, because it will be for the flyweight championship. The 112-pound division was the first that Pacquiao conquered in his collection of world titles in eight weight categories.

He knocked out Thailand’s Chatchai Sasakul to wrest the WBC flyweight crown in Bangkok in 1998. Second, because Pacquiao will never forget that Magramo’s father Melvin was one of his toughest opponents ever. It was in September 1997 when Pacquiao was stretched to the limit in pounding out a 10-round decision over Melvin in Cebu.

Although the verdict was unanimous, a breakdown of the three judges’ tallies revealed that Teddy Alivio scored five rounds even, Dioscoro Ramirez three even and Luciano Babiera two even.

Twice, Pacquiao went to the wrong corner after the bell sounded to end a round and his cornerman Rick Staheli was accused of delaying the fight by taking too long to fix loose tape on his gloves, supposedly to buy time to clear cobwebs in the head. 

Pacquiao’s manager Rod Nazario, however, said Melvin was on the verge of collapse at least four times and questioned the use of eight-ounce gloves instead of six and a smaller ring with a foamy cushion. Melvin is now 49 and retired from boxing in 2003. Pacquiao, 41, is still active.

Magramo, 25, was initially set to face Nakatani, 22, on April 4 but it was rescheduled to June 6 because of the pandemic. The other day, Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde said the fight has once more been postponed to Aug. 1. Elorde’s wife Liza said the new date falls on Johnny’s birthday.

GAB chairman Baham Mitra said the Japanese Embassy has suspended issuing visas until May 31.

“There is a visa restriction and so far, the advisory is until the end of May,” said Mitra. That means Magramo is able to apply for a visa to travel to Japan only when the restriction is lifted and that’s a question mark. Flights to Tokyo are also uncertain. Whether Filipino travelers to Japan will be subjected to a quarantine period is another cause of concern. The third postponement should allow enough time to settle pending issues.

WBO Asia/Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo, who is based in Thailand, said he has spoken with WBO president Paco Valcarcel regarding the title fight. “No officials have yet been determined,” he said. “I hope it pushes through as I would like this fight to happen. There will be a lot of obstacles to get this done. We need to see how travel is allowed and how immigration will handle the 14-day quarantine in the Philippines and Japan.”

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