Magramo goes for broke tonight

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — It’s all or nothing for Giemel Magramo who battles unbeaten Japanese southpaw Junto Nakatani in a scheduled 12-round bout for the vacant WBO flyweight crown at the Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, starting at 7:30 tonight (Manila time). The fight was delayed seven months and went through five postponements due to the pandemic but now that the wait is over, Magramo said he’s leaving nothing to chance in shooting for the crown.

Magramo, 26, will enter the ring wearing a cowboy hat, marching to the music of the Clint Eastwood western movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” It’s his way of declaring he’s ready for a gunfight. Magramo calls himself The Pistolero and during a zoom interview with Japanese media the other day, said his fists are like two guns blazing.

Odds are stacked against Magramo who arrived in Tokyo from Manila last Oct. 22 and has been quarantined with his team in the Grand Palace Hotel until today. The hotel’s entire 22nd floor was cleared for Magramo’s contingent and a few days ago, he was allowed exclusive use of the gym on the sixth level. The referee is Nobuto Ikehara of Osaka and it’s his first world title assignment in only his 28th fight since obtaining his license last year. The judges are Masahiko Noda, Masakazu Murase and long-time Tokyo resident Biney Martin of Ghana. Martin, 58, boxed from 1989 to 1998 in Japan and held the Japanese middleweight and superwelterweight titles.

Promoter Akihiko Honda has assured Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde that judging will be fair. Elorde said he trusts Honda and fight supervisor Tsuyoshi Yasukochi, the Japan Boxing Commission general secretary. Magramo said he couldn’t care less about the judges because he’ll win by knockout. He’s dedicating the fight to the late Flash Elorde’s widow Laura who passed away last May. “Binalak dalhin kay Mommy Laura ang belt pagbalik niya,” said Elorde’s wife Liza. “Her death affected Giemel very much kasi he wanted to present to her the championship belt. He promised to win for Mommy Laura.” Magramo’s record is 24-1, with 20 KOs and he has won his last seven bouts, all inside the distance, dating back to 2016 when he lost a disputed decision to Pakistan’s Muhammad Waseem in Seoul.

Nakatani, 22, has a 3 1/2 height advantage and boasts a record of 20-0, with 15 KOs including five in the first round. His list of victims includes Filipinos Milan Melindo (KO6), Philip Cuerdo (KO1), Dexter Alimento (KO3), Jeromil Borres (KO1) and Joel Taduran (KO4). Magramo said he won’t be bothered by Nakatani’s southpaw style because he has beaten 12 lefthanders before. In yesterday’s weigh-in at the hotel, Magramo tipped the scales at 50.6 kilograms or 111.554 pounds while Nakatani checked in at 50.7 kilograms or 111.774 pounds, both within the flyweight limit of 112.

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