By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Fight cards that are free to the public are quite common in the Philippines. They can be seen in small towns during fiestas and even in the major cities. The downside is that these promotions don’t usually get a lot of attention in the major newspapers and television. So it’s up to the truly die-hard fans to monitor where and when these cards are happening.
The Greenery, an establishment in Cebu City that houses restaurants and spas, hosted a seven bout fight card within its grounds. The main event was a slam-bang eight rounder between Clyde Azarcon (14-2-1,5KO’s) and Gary Rojo (9-12-1,5KO’s). Azarcon had previously lost to Rene Mark Cuarto in a WBO Oriental miniflyweight title bout. Rojo, on paper, was not expected to put up much of a resistance. But it turned out to be a nip and tuck affair.
Both boxers were willing to trade at close quarters, much to the delight of the small crowd that gathered on a Saturday night. In the fourth, a sharp one-two combo sent Rojo down. He got up and managed to survive Azarcon’s efforts to finish him. Rojo looked to be in more trouble in the fifth when he dazed and knocked down by an accidental head butt. After being given five minutes to recover, he finished the round by bloodying Azarcon’s nose.
Heavy trading in center ring continued in the subsequent rounds. Just when it seemed Azarcon was headed for a points win, Rojo knocked him down in the final round and managed to save the fight. The three judges came up with a majority draw – 75-75 twice and 76-75.
They were fighting for the vacant VISPROBA light flyweight title, which is a stepping stone to a higher ranking in the Philippines.
In the undercards – Carlo Demecillo decked Jeffrey Stella for the ten count in round four, Mark Rotilles decided not to go on fighting for round three against Rhonvex Capuloy, Brian James Wild stopped Mikey Durano in two rounds.
Taiwanese Ming Hung Lee suffered his first career loss against Matthew Fondales by unanimous decision. Fondales landed the harder punches all night long winning 39-37 twice and 40-36.
April Jay Abne knocked down Marvin Laping three times in the opening round prompting the referee’s stoppage and Arian Melgo dropped Patrick Dakay twice in round one and won by TKO.
The fight card was promoted by Big Yellow Promotions.
During the lean pre-Manny Pacquiao years, it was the free boxing shows that managed to keep the fans interested. In small towns, it is usually the local government that foots the bill. On the negative side, Filipino fight fans expect to watch boxing for free. In fact, in 2016, the IBF world junior bantamweight title fight between Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo and Jerwin Ancajas was held for free in Metro Manila inside a military base. It is only in Cebu City where promoters have a paying audience. But even in the city known as the Philippines’ boxing hotbed, two promoters have decided to close shop. Still, these free to the public boxing shows will continue because they have become part of the country’s boxing tradition.
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