Fighters to watch

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Among the 26 Filipino fighters rated in the top 10 by the four major world boxing governing bodies, five promising title prospects stand out. They are IBF No. 7 superfeatherweight Charly Suarez, IBF No. 4/WBO No. 8 superbantamweight Carl Jammes Martin, WBA No. 2/IBF No. 3/WBO No. 8 flyweight Dave Apolinario, IBF No. 6 lightflyweight/WBC No. 9 flyweight Miel Fajardo and WBO No. 6/IBF No. 9 lightflyweight Arvin Magramo.

Suarez, 35, totes a 16-0 record, with nine KOs. Martin, 24, has a 23-0 record, with 18 KOs. Hes the reigning WBO Global, IBF Pan Pacific and WBA Asia superbantamweight champion. Apolinario, 24, surrendered his lightly-regarded IBO flyweight title to campaign for bigger game and boasts a 19-0 mark, with 13 KOs. Fajardo, 23, brings an 11-1-2 record, with 10 KOs including five in the first round. Magramo, 27, brandishes a 17-1-1 record, with 11 KOs and is undefeated in his last nine outings.

None of the five has fought in a WBC, WBA, IBF or WBO championship bout. If they continue their winning ways, a title shot should be coming sooner than later. Since the list names promising prospects, it doesnt include former world champions whore making a bid to win another belt. The former world titlists in the top 10 ratings are Mark Magsayo, Marlon Tapales, JohnRiel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas, Vic Saludar, Pedro Taduran and Melvin Jerusalem.

Suarez is a late bloomer and turned pro in 2019 at 30. His last three outings were held in Vietnam, Australia and the US. Suarezbiggest win was a 12th-round technical knockout over previously unbeaten Paul Fleming in Sydney last March. Five months later, Suarez made his US debut and outpointed Yohan Vasquez in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Suarezdream is to challenge IBF superfeatherweight ruler Joe Cordina, the Welshman who scored a disputed split decision over the Filipino in the 2016 Olympics.

Martin, nicknamed the Wonder Boy, turned pro in 2016 at 16 and has never fought overseas although his last four victims were foreigners. Three weeks ago, he stopped Thailands Chaiwat Buatkrathok at 0:32 of the sixth in the Elorde Sports Complex. There are plans to bring Martin to the US where he hopes to become the next Pinoy big thing.

Apolinario is unbeaten like Suarez and Martin. In July 2022, he stopped Gideon Buthelezi in the first round to claim the IBO flyweight title in South Africa. Apolinario later relinquished the crown. He signed a promotional contract with Japanese Hideyuki Ohashi who manages Naoya Inoue last year. Fajardo is the reigning OPBF lightflyweight and Asian Boxing Federation flyweight champion. Three of his wins came in China, one in Dubai and another in Bangkok. Magramos older brother Giemel lost in a bid for the WBO flyweight crown in 2020 and now, its his turn to make his mark as a world contender. Magramos father Melvin was a pro fighter from 1990 to 2003 and battled Manny Pacquiao in a hard-fought bout that went the distance in 1997.

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