Obviously Manny Pacquiao has become a star in the US, though first won a world title in Thailand, whilst Johnriel Casimero has become a modern day road warrior with notable fights in Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, Panama, Nicaragua and Thailand. Likewise Denver Cuello has more stamps on his passport than most with bouts in Thailand, Mexico, USA, Dubai and Japan.
This past Friday we saw two more Filipino's go away from home to take part in bouts that they were supposed to lose. As is often the case with fighters from the Philippines, they failed to read the script and rather than crumbling to the home fighter both men put up a real fight.
The first of those in action was the unknown Jestoni Autida (9-3, 4). Autida was a 24 year old fighter would only have been known by the incredibly hardcore who may have seen him push world ranked Bantamweight Petch Sor Chitpattana close in March. On Friday the he stepped back up to his natural Super Bantamweight and faced Ratchasak KKP (29-4-1, 14), a man who was known for twice dropping Rex Tso in May 2014.
Although Ratchasak had lost to Tso he had strung together 6 straight wins, and hadn't been beaten in Thailand since a 2012 upset to the under-rated Richard Pumicpic, and he hadn't been stopped since September 2012, when he was stopped by Japanese fighter Kojiro Takada in a 4 round war.
Autida knew he was going in with an experienced fighter but looked confident from the off, used his reach and skills to ease himself in to the bout and never looked in any real trouble whilst simply out boxing Ratchasak in the early stages. The Thai, who is an out and out fighter, was unable to get any real momentum going and it wasn't until the middle rounds that he even seemed close to being able to unsettle the Filipino.
Sadly for Ratchasak the more he he tried the more he left himself open, and in round 8 he walked on to a monstrous right hand that dropped him hard. The Thai showed his warrior heart by getting back up but he was gone and was dropped again moments later before the referee waved the bout off. It was a break out win fir the Filipino who showed, once again, that we should never under-rate a fighter just because he's an unknown.
Several hours after Autida had broken Thai hearts we though we'd seen another shock as Filipino road warrior Adones Aguelo (24-12-2, 16) appeared to claim a clear win against the popular Will Tomlinson (24-2-1, 13).
Whilst Autida was an unknown Aguelo was a more recognisable quantity. He had fought in Thailand, against the likes of Sod Kokietgym and Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, against Joel Brunker, and Mexico, against Sergio Thompson, Nery Saguilan and Adrian Estrella. The casual fans may not have known about him, and in fact may have derided him as a “bum” based on his record but his performances had proven that he was a very capable fighter able to beat a number of supposedly better fighters.
This fight was a slow starter with neither man taking control early on. For the first two rounds it appeared that Tomlinson was just doing enough to edge them. That changed in round 3 when Aguelo went up a gear and appeared to dominate from round 3 to round 8. It was clear, going in to round 9, that the Filipino was up, likely by 6 rounds to 2, and that Tomlinson was likely going to need knockdowns to save the fight.
At the final bell it seemed as if both fighters knew who had won, Aguelo had done more than enough to deserve the victory. He had landed the better shots, he had racked up the rounds, he had done the damage, sadly though he had been jobbed on the cards of the judges with two of the judges some how giving the fight to Tomlinson with scores of 97-93 and 97-94, both inexplicable scores.
Whilst Aguelo has again been a loser on the road he will know that he deserved the win, fans,including Australians, have stated he should have won. Sometimes getting the win on your record is the most important thing, however a loss that leaves fans wanting to see more of you can be much better than a win that leaves fans bored. For Aguelo this “loss” may well have been just as good as a win, and better yet it was on free TV in Australia acting as a huge advert for the 27 year old.
Whilst many fighters are happy to stay at home, pick up their wins and losses, sometimes it can be so much more rewarding for fighters to travel. That was was seen for both Autida and Aguelo who both enhanced their reputations and whilst most casual fans world wide may not give them much attention it's fair to say both did make new fans.