In one of the biggest Filipino boxing related news stories ever, promotional giant ALA Boxing have announced that they are closing as a promotional company and boxing gym, with the shutters being pulled on ALA Promotions and ALA Gym after 35 years.
In recent times ALA boxing had faltered somewhat and the last few years have been frustrating ones for Filipino fans, who have failed to see prospects kick on and have sat watching Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23) waste what could have been the final years of his career. The stable had also seen fighters like Mark Magsayo (20-0, 14)leave in the pursuit of opportunities that ALA were unable to deliver and had seen it's big hopes falling short on their way up.
Whilst it had faltered the assumption was that it would rebuild, come back and be strong once again. Those hopes were dashed earlier this year with a combination of the current global situation as well as things closer to home, with ABS-CBN being forced to close due to political reasons.
The gym have released a statement regarding the closure, which can be read below, which includes thanking the support of fighters, staff, fans, media, sponsors and boxing organisations.
We want to say thank you to ALA for all the great memories and time they have brought us over the years. This is a huge loss for Filipino boxing, even with the recent down turn in success that ALA have had. They have been integral to the success of Filipino boxing for decades and them bowing out will leave a huge hole in the sport in the country, that may take years to fill.
The one positive, if we can say that, is that ALA have released all their fighters who are now free agents and able to sign with any other promoters. This means the likes of KJ Cataraja (11-0 9), Go Hosaka (4-0, 3), Albert Pagara (32-1, 23), Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9), Esneth Domingo (13-1, 7)and even Donnie Nietes, if he does return to the ring, have no issues standing in their way when it comes to signing with a new promotional outfit. Fingers crossed that those fighters do get opportunities sooner rather than later and other promoters do pick them up, as there really is some incredible free agents no on the market.
With boxing's return to the Philippines still uncertain this really is dreadful news for fighters, fans, and everyone concerned with the Filipino boxing scene.
Earlier today ALA held a small, yet notable, card in Bohol where a number of top prospects picked up their latest wins.
The least experienced of the prospects to pick up a win was 22 year old Regie Suganob (3-0, 1), who over-came fellow young hopeful John Paul Gabunilas (2-1, 1) with a 6 round unanimous decision. Suganob had won the Philippine National Games title last year as an amateur and is regarded as a genuinely promising youngster and taking on a fellow unbeaten this early shows the belief his team have in him.
The very highly regarded Japanese-Filipino Go Hosaka (4-0, 3) scored his latest win as he took out the over-matched Kim Lindog (5-8-1, 4) in 3 rounds. Whilst this was a mismatch the result is a very impressive one for Hosaka given that Lindog had only been stopped once before in his career. Coming in to this Lindog had lost his previous 4, but had gone the distance with the likes of Ben Mananquil and Ronnie Baldonado, so for Hosaka to stop him this early in his career is noteworthy to say the least.
Another mismatch saw the incredibly talented KJ Cataraja (11-0, 8) score a 3rd round TKO over the experienced, but limited, Crison Omayao (24-21-5, 8). The talented Cataraja was fighting for the second time this year and this bout was more a case of keeping him busy rather than developing on what he'd done last year, including an excellent win over Victor Hugo Reyes. For Omayao this was an 10th stoppage loss in 50 bouts, and we really need to wonder why his team keep allowing him in with fighters who are so out of his depth.
An even bigger mismatch saw the world ranked Christian Bacolod (12-0, 9) take out domestic journeyman Michael Camelion (10-13-2, 8) inside a round. Despite Bacolod struggling past Christoval Furog last November we don't see any excuse for him to be taking on an opponent like Camelion, who has now been stopped 8 times in his 13 losses.
Earlier today Japanese-Filipino Go Hosaka (2-0, 1) [保坂剛] took a major step up in class, in just his second bout as he took on Jason Tinampay (8-12-1, 7) at "Pinoy Pride 45: Quest for Greatness". Despite the step up the former amateur stand out immediately impressed, forcing Tinampay on to the ropes from the opening seconds.
Tinampay was forced onto the ropes almost immediately and the entire first round saw Hosaka dominate with the more experienced man doing little more than surviving from behind a tight defense. The second round was similar with Tinampay doing more to survive than put up a real fight, though he did land a good counter or two. The game plan of Tinampay was obvious, trying to catch Hosaka as he came in, but Hosaka was wise to it, and used a sharp jab and brutal straight left hands to stop Tinampay from getting much success. Tinampay played the fool through the second round however, taunting and playing to the crowd, trying to get into Hosaka's head.
In round 3 Hosaka picked up his body attack and started to find holes to hurt his man to the midsection. Tinampay, to his credit, took the blows well, but did little offensively as Hosaka got to control the tempo and had fun doing so, knowing that there was very little coming back at him. Round 4 again saw Hosaka in control, as Tinampay played to the crowd, trying to lure Hosaka into a mistake for him to capitalise on.
In round 5 the tempo slowed drastically. It seemed like Hosaka was accepting he wasn't going to take Tinampay out with volume and began setting his feet for heavier single shots. Tinampay seemed to take that as a sign of tiredness from Hosaka and he came forward, eating a brilliant left hand from Hosaka as a result.
The slower, more deliberate, attack from Hosaka continued in round 6, as he looked to pick the blows that would take his man out. Tinampay however fired back enough to back up Hosaka, landing a very notable low blow that saw Hosaka walk off for a few seconds.
At the end Tinampay had seen off the 6 round distance, but had been clearly beaten, with all 3 judges scoring the bout for Hosaka.
Hosaka, who looked in control from round 1, would have been unhappy to not get the stoppage, but going 6 rounds, at a good tempo, will have done him a lot of good and it's clear that after an opening round blow out on debut this will have done him a lot of good. For Tinampay surviving 6 rounds will have been a moral victory, but that was about all he had to take away from the bout, other than some clear facial swelling.
ALA Boxing Gym, the premier promotional outfit in the Philippines, have revealed that their next card in the "Pinoy Pride" line of shows, "Pinoy Pride 44", will take place on June 9th in Maasin City, and although it's not set to feature any world class bouts it does look like a stacked card with name value running through it, and should be a card that generates a fair bit of attention from those involved in it.
The main event is set to feature the popular Albert Pagara (29-1, 20) taking on Ghana's Laryea Gabriel Odoi (20-3-2, 14), who is best known for losing in a Commonwealth title fight to Martin Ward in 2013. Pagara, originally from Maasin City, will be the overwhelming favourite in the eyes of the fans, but Odoi has never been stopped, and has lost only once in his last 23 fights, having rebuilt following a 0-2 start to his professional career. Athlough Odoi is a tough, then again aren't all fighters teak tough, he has only fought once in the last year, and has only fought 4 times in the last 4 years. For Pagara this is a chance to record his 4th straight win following his 2016 loss to Cesar Juarez
Albert will be joined by older brother Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25), who takes on Indonesian Geisler AP (12-10-1, 9). It's fair to say that 2017 was a year to forget for the once touted Pagara, who went 0-1-1 for the year. In December he suffered a TKO loss to Hiroki Okada and in both of his 2017 bouts he looked like a fighter who really lacked the commitment and fitness to be fighting. Even an off the boil Pagara should have far too much for the visiting fighter here, with the Indonesian fighter having been stopped in every one of his bouts outside of Indonesia.
Former world title challenger Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17) will be returning to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Luis Nery as he takes on domestic journeyman Renren Tesorio (16-12-3, 4), in what should be an easy comeback fight for the 29 year old.
In another of the feature bouts the exciting Jeo Santisima (15-2, 13) will battle against Thai visitor Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda (16-5, 10) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The Thai visitor is 0-5 outside of Thailand is is likely to extend that losing run here against the hard hitting Santisima, who has looked like a real prospect in recent bouts, and will be looking to move into the WBO rankings with another win here. The Thai was riding a 10 fight winning run until recently, with that run ending this past February when he was out pointed by Juan Miguel Elorde, and we suspect he'll now suffer a second successive loss.
Others pencilled in for this card including former world title challenger Melvin Jerusalem (12-2, 7), unbeaten puncher Jeno Macapobre (3-0, 2) and Japanese fighter Go Hosaka (0-0)
News! We try and give you the most interesting news stories from the Asian boxing world!