Boxing back in business

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Last Saturday, JC Manangquil of Sanman Promotions staged a boxing event with five fights in General Santos City in a bold and heartful effort to keep the sport alive in this pandemic. It was only the second card held in the country since the COVID-19 crisis turned the world upside down but there are clear signs that promoters like Manangquil are rising to the occasion with support from GAB.

The first activity was the Omega Sports promotion called Kumbati 5 featuring four fights in Tingub, Mandaue last Oct. 7. “The promotion followed the JAO and GAB health protocols,” said GAB chairman Baham Mitra. “Boxers and ring officials were subjected to isolation just like in a bubble for 14 days before the fights with swab and rapid testing. Strict health protocols were implemented at the weigh-in and during actual fight day. This has signaled the return of pro boxing in the Philippines as part of the new normal during this pandemic.”

There were only 28 participants in Mandaue. Under JAO guidelines, a maximum of 50 is allowed. “Boxers from the same quarantine levels can fight each other but not allowed from high risk to low risk,” noted Mitra. “In the dugout, wearing of face masks is required. Cornermen must wear face masks and face shields. The referee must wear a face mask and gloves. Judges wear face masks, face shields and gloves. The ring announcer is stationed in the red zone area, not allowed inside the ring. The maximum of 50 participants is subjected to swab and rapid tests plus isolation.”

Manangquil, who maintains 30 fighters in his stable, including two based in Miami, said he’s thrilled that boxing is back in the country. “I hope in some way we gave Philippine boxing some hope at least before the year ends,” he said. “We’re doing another show on Dec. 12 in Talisay, Cebu headlined by K. J. Cataraja. Fights are allowed only in MGCQ areas.” Attendance was limited to participants in last Saturday’s event, seven at a time with no fans. IBF No. 4 superbantamweight Marlon Tapales stopped Eden Sonsona in two rounds in the main attraction.

Two of Manangquil’s fighters Jameson Bacon and Reymart Gaballo are in Miami. Bacon, a welterweight, has scored back-to-back KO wins in Florida, one over Argentina’s Gonzalo Dallera last Oct. 17 and the other over another Argentinian Roque Junco last Friday. Gaballo, the WBA’s No. 1 bantamweight, faces Chile’s Jose Velasquez for the interim WBA 118-pound title in Connecticut, likely on Dec. 19.  Another Sanman protégé IBF No. 3 flyweight Jayson Mama takes on defending IBF titlist Moruti Mthalane in Durban, South Africa, on Dec. 20. Still another Sanman fighter WBO No. 3 bantamweight Mike Plania, who dropped Joshua Greer twice in pounding out a win on points in Las Vegas last June, will return to the US next month to train for a fight in February or March. Manangquil recently added former ALA fighters Cataraja, WBO No. 8 superbantamweight Jeo Santisima, Esneth Domingo and WBC No. 1 minimumweight Melvin Jerusalem to his stable.

Promoter Johnny Elorde hopes to promote a WBO Youth lightflyweight title bout featuring Arvin Magramo in Sucat next month but it’s on hold. “’Di malaman kung GCQ pa rin ang Metro Manila,” said Elorde’s wife Liza. “If it’s GCQ, we can’t do boxing. Alanganin pag pinag-ensayo mga boxers.” There is a plan to stage IBF minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran’s title defense against countryman Rene Mark Cuarto, possibly in General Santos City next month. Taduran’s manager Art Monis said if it can’t be held in December, the fight will be pushed back to January. Former two-time world champion Gerry Peñalosa is also cooking up an event in Cavite with co-promoters Gerry Balmes and Orlan Barcelon.

In Los Angeles, Olympic middleweight qualifier Eumir Marcial is working out with Freddie Roach and Justin Fortune, looking forward to his pro debut next month against Andrew Whitfield or a 6-2 Mexican from Denver. IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and featherweight Mark Magsayo are also in L.A. training for their next fight. According to MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, WBO bantamweight king Johnriel Casimero will be back in the US for “something big” in March or April and Michael Dasmariñas is in line for a shot at Naoya Inoue. Then, there’s super WBA welterweight champion Sen. Manny Pacquiao who’s hot in the news as still the most marketable fighter anywhere. Nonito Donaire Jr. will battle Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez for the vacant WBC bantamweight title in Connecticut on Dec. 19 so Philippine boxing, here and abroad, is back in business.

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