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Sports

Busy month for boxing

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Seven Filipinos are booked for world title fights this month and two more are scheduled in championship eliminators as the race to find an heir to Manny Pacquiaos throne heats up. There will never be another Pacman but its every Filipino fighters dream to come close to the global recognition that he earned over 26 years in a storybook ring career.

First on stage are two Filipinos taking on separate opponents in a pair of title bouts at the Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai on Dec. 11. WBO bantamweight champion JohnRiel Casimero puts his crown on the line against former IBF 118-pound king Paul Butler while unbeaten Jayson Mama faces IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards in a fight that was originally set last September. Butler twisted his ankle in a freak accident and pulled out of the bout at the Copper Box Arena in London but now, hes good to go. Its a doubleheader involving two Filipinos against two Englishmen. On the same card, Donnie (Ahas) Nietes meets the Dominican Republics Norbelto Jimenez in a WBA superflyweight title eliminator. Nietes, 39, is setting his sights on super WBA 115-pound champion Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico but hes not taking Jimenez lightly.

Also on Dec. 11, WBC bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. meets Reymart Gaballo in an all-Filipino title clash at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson City, Los Angeles County. In the chief aperitif, Marlon Tapales battles OPBF champion Hiroaki Teshigawara of Japan in an IBF superbantamweight title eliminator with the winner advancing to challenge IBF/super WBA king Murodjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan.

On Dec. 14, Robert Paradero tangles with super WBA minimumweight titleholder Knockout CP Freshmart in Phuket, Thailand. Paraderos father Federico passed away last week and the fighter promised to bring the WBA belt to his tomb. Freshmart is no pushover with a perfect record of 22-0, including eight KOs, and its his 10th title defense. Paradero is in for rough sailing but wont back down.

Next up is regular WBA minimumweight champion Vic Saludar who stakes his crown against hometowner Erick Rosa in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Dec. 21. Itll be the first defense of the crown that Saludar claimed in scoring a split decision over Paradero in Biñan last February. Rosa is called “Mini Pacmanand mysteriously gained a title crack despite a 4-0 record, with one KO. Hes a national celebrity with 356 amateur wins and the hometown crowd will be a major factor against Saludar whos nine years older and much more experienced, toting a record of 21-4, with 11 KOs. Saludar leaves Manila for Santo Domingo on Dec. 14 with trainers Jojo Palacios and Brian Barron. Bebot Elorde, who arranged the match with Rosas manager Belgica Pena, said Palacios is confident Saludar is coming home with the belt safely strapped around his waist.

Finally, on Dec. 31, IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas clashes with WBO beltholder Kazuto Ioka in a unification showdown in Tokyo. Itçs Ancajas’ 10th title defense and Iokas fourth. Ancajas has waited for a chance to unify for years and now, the opportunity has come against a Japanese fighter who has won world crowns in four divisions.

Three other fights to watch for this month are Carl Jammes Martins test against veteran Mark Anthony Geraldo at the Elorde Sports Center on Saturday, Alie Laurel against Mexicos Sergio Chirino in a 10-round featherweight tiff in Guanajuato, Mexico, also on Saturday and Gervonta Davis against Isaac Cruz for the WBA lightweight crown at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, on Sunday. Martin, 22, has a 17-0 record, with 15 KOs and is considered a world bantamweight title prospect. Geraldos record is 38-9-3, with 19 KOs and he once beat Ancajas. Laurel, known as the Demolition Man, totes a record of 18-5-1, with 11 KOs while Chirinos slate is 16-1, with 10 KOs. Cruz, a Mexican, is the only non-Filipino in MP Promotionsstable and has a 22-1-1 record, with 15 KOs. Davis is unbeaten with a 25-0 mark, including 24 KOs and will make his third defense of the crown. And lets not forget the unification duel between Gennadiy Golovkin and Ryota Murata for the super WBA, IBF and IBO middleweight titles in Saitama on Dec. 29.

BOXING MANNY PACQUIAO
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