By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino featherweight Jhack Tepora (22-0,17KO’s) spent most of his boxing career in relative obscurity. He was a five time national amateur champion and was recruited to fight for the Philippine national team. But after a couple of overseas tournaments, he turned pro without any fanfare on a small fight card held at the Cebu Coliseum in 2012.
Prior to winning the WBA interim featherweight world title, he was rarely seen on television. Things started to change for him three years ago when Omega Promotions decided to be more aggressive in marketing their fighters with their “WHO’S NEXT?” boxing series. Still, his name escapes the casual fight fans even in his native island of Cebu.
It was his highlight reel knockout of South African Lusanda Komanisi last September 22,2017 in East London, South Africa that made fans sit up and pay attention. This was followed by another big break, a spot on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao and Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia last July. His impressive ninth round TKO win against Mexican Edivaldo Ortega earned him not just the WBA belt but also showed that he can deliver under the media scrutiny in a nationally televised fight.
Tepora’s back to back stoppage wins earned him a contract to fight under Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. But it has been six months since the Ortega fight. Tepora has not seen action since then and there has been turmoil behind the scenes. Last October 11, 2018, an article published in the Cebu Daily News quoted Tepora as saying he was disappointed with the ouster of his brother Jerald “Jingjing” Tepora, as one of the trainers of the Omega Gym. Tepora’s other brother Christopher “Pingping” Tepora, also left the Omega Gym a few years ago.
This was the back story when it was announced that Tepora would face Hugo Ruiz (38-4,33KO’s) of Mexico on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner mega-fight in Las Vegas.
Tepora reunited with his two brothers while training for his January 19 fight. But the question remains how the behind the scenes discord with the Omega management will affect his preparation for his biggest bout.
Brother and co-trainer Jingjing assured this writer that everything is fine and Jhack is well prepared.
“We have trained for two months. Now all he needs is to lose the excess weight.” Jingjing said, “He has sparred with James Bacon, Allan Villanueva and RJ Anoos.”
Jingjing missed the trip to Las Vegas due to visa issues. Pingping was with Jhack on the plane ride to the U.S. last January 11.
Whether these Filipino sparmates will be enough for his preparation remains to be seen. The 25 year old southpaw has had weight issues in the past; sportswriters here in Cebu noticed he tends to bloat in between fights. But he had no trouble making the 126 lb. limit in his bout against Ortega.
Ruiz is no pushover, having previously held the WBA interim bantamweight and WBC super bantamweight titles. He lost to quality Japanese boxers Koki Kameda and Hozumi Hasegawa.
Many have wilted under the hot lights. Tepora will have to show once again he can handle the pressure. This time it will be on one of the biggest venues in professional boxing.
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.