By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Jhack Tepora joins a short but undesirable list of Filipino world titleholders who got stripped of their belts for stepping on the scales overweight. The WBA interim world featherweight titlist was supposed to make his first defense of the crown he won last July in Malaysia against Mexican Edivaldo Ortega.
News from Las Vegas stated that Tepora weighed 131.5lbs, 5 and a half pounds over the division limit. The fight was reported to be cancelled and on boxrec, Hugo Ruiz , his challenger from Mexico, was now matched with another Mexican, Alberto Guevarra.
The future of the undefeated Tepora (22-0,17Ko’s) is now in limbo considering his reported conflict with Omega Promotions, the company that promotes him in his home island of Cebu.
In 2009, Marvin Sonsona lost his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior bantamweight crown when he checked in over the limit in his first defense against Mexican Alejandro Hernandez. The fight held in Canada pushed through and ended in a draw.
Sonsona’s reign lasted only for two months and 17 days, a record for being the shortest stint as a world champ in the Philippines. He would never get a world title shot again. Numerous stories came out regarding his lack of discipline which eventually led to long periods of inactivity.
In 2014, Johnriel Casimero came in over for the light flyweight limit for his fourth defense of his IBF title. Casimero entered the ring an ex-champ but easily knocked out Colombian Mauricio Fuentes in Cebu City. Casimero also had a falling out with Omega Promotions and would go on to win another IBF world title at flyweight. Two years ago, fighting at 115lbs, he lost in an IBF eliminator to countryman Jonas Sultan by unanimous verdict in Cebu City.
Casimero is scheduled for a fight this February 16 in Metro Manila against Japanese Kenya Yamashita
In 2017, Marlon Tapales couldn’t make weight in Japan in is first defense of the WBO bantamweight title against Japanese Shohei Omori. Tapales was still allowed to fight after being stripped and stopped Omori in 11 rounds.
The almost nine month interval since beating Pungluang Sor Singyu for the title was cited as the reason why Tapales was overweight. Another hiatus followed and Tapales saw action again last September in Manila knocking out Tanzanian Goodluck Mrema in a non-title contest.
Even Manny Pacquiao was not spared of this fate. In 2009, when he was still a flyweight, Pacquiao lost his WBC crown at the scales in Thailand. He was too drained in trying to make weight he lost by third round TKO to Thai Medgoen Singsurat.
At that point in time, no one would have predicted that Pacquiao would go on and win seven more division titles and become an all-time great. Pacquiao will face off against Adrien Broner to defend his WBA welterweight title. Tepora will miss his big chance to fight on the undercard.
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.