Cebu Boxing in 2020?
BLEACHER TALK - Rico Navarro (The Freeman) - January 19, 2020 - 12:00am

What is going to happen to/in Cebu Boxing in 2020? Ironically, my headline might have answered the question. The reply is one big question mark. Sad but so true. After having a relatively quiet scene in 2019, there’s nowhere to go but up in terms of boxing action, but will anything happen? After being hailed as the hotbed of Pinoy boxing at one time, we are ice cold.

Don’t get me wrong. We still have a bunch of world class boxers. Donnie Nietes, Cebu’s most decorated active boxer is a multiple division world champion, is the Pinoy boxer with the longest reign as world champion, and is Cebu Boxing’s poster boy. But what is he doing these days? He is inactive and has been waiting (forever?) for another big fight before he calls it a day. Jhack Tepora, a product of the Omega Boxing Gym, now makes the U.S. his base. He recently lost in his last fight, but will bounce back for sure. Johnriel Casimero, who once made Cebu his base (at Omega), is a brand new world champion, but I’m not sure if it will be fair to claim that he’s from Cebu Boxing as he now trains in both Manila and the U.S. Point is: Where did they all come from and start? Where did they fight in their young careers? Where did they pile up wins, exposure, experience and the much-needed training?

Hello Cebu Boxing 2020? If the boxing community doesn’t get its act together, we may no longer be able to produce the next Nietes, Tepora or Casimero. The three boxers, along with the likes of Milan Melindo, Albert Pagara, Christian Araneta, Arthur Villanueva, Mark Magsayo and other talented boxers achieved their feats, thanks to their younger days when Cebu Boxing was alive and kicking. I can still recall the days when ALA Promotions would have Pinoy Pride events around four to five times a year. Omega Promotions would also have their share of big events around four times a year. In between, Wakee Salud and Big Yellow would squeeze in other boxing events in different places of Cebu. Over-all, it was safe to say that Cebu had at least one boxing event a month. The biggest ones (Pinoy Pride) were at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, and these were aired over ABS-CBN. The norm was to bring in opponents from Mexico, Africa or Latin America nations for the main or supporting main events, while Asian imports were brought in for other fights. Those were the days indeed. Will we ever get back to this state?

Hello again Cebu Boxing 2020. If we track the trend of boxing activity since 2018, Cebu Boxing has been on the downtrend. We now have fewer boxing events (big or small). Gone are those many regional title fights of the WBO that paved the way for the title fights of Cebu boxers. Cost is a major factor in staging boxing cards and promoters are no longer willing to shell out from their pockets unless a big sponsor (TV or corporate) comes in for help. Boxing managers are now content with having their boxers fight elsewhere and for bigger money. Jeo Santisima is reported to be challenging for Emmanuel Navarrette’s WBO junior featherweight title in Mexico next month. Tepora just fought recently in the U.S. Joey Canoy also saw action in Africa awhile back. If they’re not fighting, boxers are serving as sparring partners in Japan. This overseas gimmick has now become the trend. The good news here is that the boxers earn precious U.S. dollars for themselves (and for their managers?) and get to help their families here in Cebu. My concern here though is that while this is good for boxers who get to fight or spar abroad, what are the activities for the other boxers? Not all will get the call to fight or spar overseas, especially the young upstarts on the look-out for fights. They’ll be lucky if they’re invited to fight in boxing events in other parts of the country where boxing is more active. GenSan and Manila are busier than Cebu, but promoters there are not going to invite Cebu boxers who have the potential to beat their local bets/boxers being groomed for the big time.

The only recourse here is for Cebu promoters to stage boxing events anew. With cost as a big factor, these need not be of the big-time type, and can be simple, small cards featuring four to five fights per card. They don’t need to go to the Waterfront Hotel. They can tie up with LGUs for the use of city-managed venues or barangay gyms. I just hope corporate sponsors come in and help the sport. Staging boxing events is expensive and needs tons of financial support. Forget ticket sales. This is just loose change up against the total amount needed. Another option is for promoters to tie up with each other and share the cost in staging events. I don’t recall it being done before, but for the sake of the boxers, maybe this should be considered? Can the government help in any way? Professional boxing isn’t covered by the Philippine Sports Commission, but can the PAGCOR help in one way or another? The GAB is more of a regulatory and licensing body, but can it somehow find ways to tap the resources of Malacañang?

I must admit that things aren’t looking great for Cebu Boxing 2020 but I pray that I’m wrong.

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