Later today we'll see WBO Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26) hunt his 5th defense, as he clashes with Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima (19-2, 16). The two men weighed in for the bout yesterday and both men came in bang on the 122lb limit for the bout.
On paper the bout is seen as a pretty huge mismatch in favour of the unbeaten champion. He has looked a dominant force in recent bouts, and since beating Isaac Dogboe for the title in late 2018 no one has really tested him. His competition has been lacking in some ways, but in reality the fighters he has been beating have been just as, if not more, established as Santisima.
The Filipino challenger, fighting in his first world title bout, is fighting outside of the Philippines for the first time and is taking a massive step up in class, after bouts against the likes of Uriel Lopez and Rene Dacquel.
The bout, which is one of the main support bouts for tonight's Heavyweight clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, will see both men kicking off their 2020, and the winner seems likely to land a big fight later in the year. Sadly for Santisima it seems unlikely that it will be him, with the Filipino regarded by many as having next to no chance against the Mexican world champion.
Santisima challenges Navarrete, but will he stand a chance?
Who are you? Jeo Santisima
Yesterday in Leyte notable Filipino fighters had the chance to shine, in really awful mismatches as ALA Promotions tried to keep some of their best fighters ticking over.
One of the notable fighters on this card was former world title challenger Jonas Sultan (16-5, 10), who bounced back from a loss in South Africa to Athenkosi Dumezweni. The skilled, yet often frustrating, Sultan scored a 7th round TKO win over fellow Filipino Salatiel Amit (11-7-2, 8). Sultan was one of two former world title challengers on this card, joined by Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9), who also scored a 7th round TKO win as he took out Reymark Taday (9-10-1, 4).
Higher up the card was two promising prospects with their eyes on getting to world level.
One of those hopefuls was Albert Pagara (32-1, 23), who blew away Lucky Tor Buamas (12-4, 12), aka Ratchanon Sawangsoda inside a round. The talented Pagara, who really deserves so much better than to share the ring with Lucky, was fighting for the first time since last November though hardly broke a sweat in getting rid of the over-matched Thai.
The other youngster with eyes on world title glory was Jeo Santisima (18-2, 15), who easily dismissed Alvius Maufani (6-4-2, 3), also in the first round. As with Pagara this wasn't really a bout worth having for Santisima, whilst Maufani has now gone 0-3-1 in his last 4.
The main event of "Pinoy Pride 45: Quest for Greatness" looked like a mismatch on paper, as the hard hitting Filipino Jeo Santisima (17-2, 14) took on Mexican Victor Uriel Lopez (13-7-1, 6). On paper it was an easy first defense of the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title for Santisima. In reality however the bout was an incredibly tough and gruelling affair, with the Filipino really forced to work hard and dig deep to continue a winning run that now stands at 15 straight wins.
The Filipino looked sensational early on, dominating the early rounds with his power, speed and physicality. He looked to be on route to the expect easy win, especially when he was hurting the Mexican in the opening rounds with body shots and hard, clean head shots. Lopez however saw off the storm, proving what a Mexican warrior he was before firing back, from 3, and making life very tough for the Filipino who began to slow down.
From round 4 the Mexican began to build momentum, using volume punching to handcuff Santisima, who continued to land the better blows but was being out worked, round after round. From round 4 to round 7 it seemed like the Mexican was wearing down the talented Filipino, who struggled to fight for more than just a few bursts through the rounds.
In round 8 Santisima managed to get his second wind and really rocked the Mexican with some huge shots to head and body. Lopez was left stumbling around the ring at one point as his legs almost gave up on him, though some how he remained up right and saw off the storm from Santisima, who seemed too tired to capitalise. It was a clear Santisima round, and showed he still had his power, but it also showed how tough Lopez was and in round 9 he came back at Santisima, despite eating some massive right hands.
Round 10 was the round of the fight. Early on Lopez was rocked, hard, by Santisima, and it looked like he was going to be stopped. His was was a swollen mess and Santisima was landing huge rights up top, really hurting the Mexican. The Mexican then came back, hurting Santisima, in what was a great back and forth round that ended with Santisima backing off and looking to catch his breath. It was a round that saw both being hurt, both gritting their teeth and both fighting, hard.
Round 11 took on a much slower pace, as both men looked to recover. Although slower both took bombs, it was just less intense, and a round that seemed more based on accuracy than intensity. That intensity did however return for round 12 as both returned to the high octane action of the 10th round and traded bombs, in what was another all action round, with 3 minutes of exciting action. It was amazing to see them trading blows, with the work rate of both being as impressive as the fact both men were still standing at the end of the round.
With neither man being able to finish the other off we went to the score-cards, , with the judges all siding with Santisima, handing in cards of 118-112 and 117-111, twice. We felt they got the right guy, but they were all too wide and Lopez, who made the fight, certainly deserved more credit than he got for his part in a brilliant fight, one of the best on Filipino soil this year.
The next major card from ALA Promotions was announced earlier today, and is set to be a triple header, with the top 3 bouts all being affiliated with the WBO, albeit for a trio of their minor titles.
One of the title bouts will see the once touted Albert Pagara (30-1, 21) defending his WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight title against Ghana's George Krampah (14-3, 12). This really should be a straight forward win for Pagara, given the that visitor has been relative inactive in recent years and was stopped in 2 of his last 3, including stoppage losses to Thabo Sonjica and current world champion Isaac Dogboe. Sadly though it doesn't seem like the step forward that the Filipino deserves given his talent and the promise he has.
A much better looking match up will see KJ Cataraja (8-0, 7) take on Victor Hugo Reyes (9-1-1, 7) in a mouth watering match up for the WBO Youth Super Flyweight title. The unbeaten Cataraja is very highly regarded in Asian boxing circles and he has been tipped for major success since turning professional. Despite being highly regarded he hasn't been matched particularly hard, with this being a notable step up in class. Reyes has been matched relatively easily but has been impressive on the Mexican domestic scene, with a good win last time out against Julio Castillo. This really could be the stand out show on the card.
The third title bout will see the hard hitting Jeo Santisima (16-2, 14) take on Mexican Victor Uriel Lopez (13-6-1, 6) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The 22 year old Santisima has been one of the most explosive Filipino prospects in recent years and will be favoured here, especially given he is riding a 14 fight winning run. The visitor however is no push over and in 2016 he scored a major upset over Ryo Matsumoto.
Others on the card include Jonas Sultan (14-4, 9) and Ardin Diale (34-12-4, 16), who will be facing against each other, and Arthur Villanueva (32-3, 18), though his opponent hasn't yet been announced.
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!