CEBU, Philippines — John Paul “Angas ng Cebu” Gabunilas passed the toughest test yet in his budding career with flying colors while his ARQ stablemate and fellow champion April Jay “Astroboy” Abne produced a masterclass during the “Engwentro Singko” fightcard of ARQ Sports Promotions last Saturday at the Bonifacio Bacaltos Sports and Cultural Centrum in Sibonga town, south of Cebu.
Gabunilas, the reigning Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) Youth light flyweight titleholder, muscled his way to a lopsided decision win over the tough as nails Ricardo Sueno of Elorde Stable in his first 10-round bout that reached the full distance.
The 21-year-old Gabunilas was the aggressor from the opening bell, pounding Sueno with an assortment of solid head and body shots but the Negrense visitor, armed with nerves of steel and clamshell defense, bravely weathered the ordeal throughout the one-sided duel.
When the dust settled, it was crystal clear that Gabunilas is the far superior fighter to easily earn the nod of three judges scoring at ringside.
Edward Ligas submitted a 100-89 shutout, Rafael Osumo had it 98-91, while Neil Papas scored 97-92 all for Gabunilas, who stretched his record to 7-1 spiked with 5KOs.
“Maayo ug gahi kaayo akong kontra,” said the Barangay Pardo, Cebu City native Gabunilas.
“But nindot to nga experience para nako. Lipay kaayo ko nga nakaabot ko og round,” added Gabunilas after completing his first 10-rounder match. Prior to that, he’s coming off a four-fight winning streak via short route.
In the undercard of the first boxing event in Cebu with a live audience since the outbreak of the global pandemic over two years ago, Abne stole the show with a brutal second-round demolition of the veteran Arnold Garde to the delight of the sizeable crowd that include mayors Lionel Bacaltos of Sibonga, Terence Blanco of Ronda, and ARQ big boss Jason Arquisola.
Abne, who currently holds the OPBF Silver flyweight belt, floored Garde twice in the first round before delivering the coup de grace - a picture-perfect right hook to the chin that sent Garde down for good at the 1:53 mark of round two.
“Daghan na’g nakalaban nga world caliber akong kontra unya mas eksperyensiyado siya nako pero nakauna lang gyud ko’g timing sa iyaha,” said Abne in explaining the early stoppage he did not expect.
The World Boxing Council (WBC)-ranked No.31 Abne said the presence of his brothers, one even came all the way from their hometown in Manticao, Misamis Oriental just to cheer him up, motivated him to perform remarkably.
“Dako kaayo ko og pasalamat sa akoang mga igsoon kay kon dili tungod nila, dili nako ma-knockout ako kontra kay sila man gahatag sa ako og kusog ilabi na ang isa nako ka maguwang nga si Jun Anthony nga mianhi lang gyud dinhi aron mosuporta nako,” shared Abne, who improved to 9-1 now packed with 5KOs.
Abne was doubly happy as his other brother Ian Paul also emerged victorious, prevailing over Reynald Ewikan by unanimous decision.
On the other hand, the Piala siblings Rodex and Bryx both triumphed by unanimous verdict over Ivor Lastrilla and Jay-ar Aliasot, respectively.
In the other results, Rodel Wenceslao stopped Mark Sales at the end round two, Bryan James Wild eked out a split decision over Jason Dogelio, Ramel Macado, Jr. forced Juvab Lucas to throw in the towel at the end of round four, Berland Robles edged Reymark Alicaba by UD, in the same way with Yerroge Gura against Vincent Bautista.