Magramo endures quarantine

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Giemel Magramo isn’t allowed to leave the Grand Palace Hotel, where he is quarantined, until two days before his fight against unbeaten Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight crown at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Nov. 6 but he’s not bothered by the restriction and the No. 1 contender from Parañaque is confident of bringing the championship belt back home.

Magramo arrived in Tokyo with his team last Thursday. His manager Johnny Elorde confided that if he didn’t leave when he did, Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda would’ve postponed the fight until next year. Magramo and his team – Elorde, father/head trainer Melvin, assistant trainer Toto Laurente and Johnny’s son Mig – were issued Japanese visas last Oct. 20. They took swab tests the next day and paid P12,000 each to get the results within 15 hours. The negative results were released a little past midnight last Thursday and their flight was booked at 6:30 a.m. later that morning. Magramo and his team left for the airport at 3 a.m.

Elorde’s wife Liza said it was a mad rush. Once they landed in Tokyo, Japanese health authorities conducted a saliva test. They waited for about two hours in the terminal before receiving clearance to proceed to their hotel. A Japanese health officer initially misread Mig’s test result and declared him positive but he was quickly cleared when another health officer pointed to the mistake.

The entire 22nd floor of the hotel has been reserved for Magramo and his team. Honda is footing the daily bill of $5,000 for renting the floor. Food is on demand and also in Honda’s bill. Steaks are the team’s popular order. Everyone has his own room with Magramo and Elorde assigned to suites. The floor corridor is about 100 meters long so Magramo runs up and down the walkway to simulate a jog. Inside his suite, he does mitts with his father and goes through exercise drills. Weight shouldn’t be a problem as Magramo left Manila at 118 pounds. He expects to tip the scales a little below the flyweight limit of 112 the day before the fight.

Magramo isn’t worried that the three judges will be all Japanese. He’s convinced he has what it takes to put the first stain on Nakatani’s record. Liza said Magramo couldn’t import sparmates because of the pandemic and Nakatani also had to be content with whoever was available in Tokyo. “Giemel’s ready,” said Liza who hopes to join the team in Tokyo. “This is a difficult situation for Giemel but he’s determined to win.”

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