By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
A year and a half after losing in an epic battle to Naoya Inoue, Nonito Donaire is a world champion again.
This time, he did it at 38 years old and established himself as the oldest bantamweight world titleholder in history. Donaire was the sentimental favorite here in his birthplace, the Philippines. But with every aging fighter, there will always be questions as to whether he can still pull the trigger.
He was also up against an unbeaten WBC champion, Frenchman Nordine Oubaali, four years his junior, who had previously stopped Filipino contenders Mark Anthony Geraldo and Arthur Villanueva.
But the Filipino Flash did it in style. Even in the tentative, range finding first two rounds, the entire Filipino boxing nation felt something spectacular was going to happen. The southpaw Oubaali couldn’t find the range and timing for his left.
Donaire did an excellent job with his feints, head movement and proceeded to cut the ring off, setting up Oubaali with a body punch followed by a counter left hook, dropping him in the third.
Most boxers would not have remained on the canvas, but Oubaali bravely got up, only to taste Donaire’s left hook again at the end of the round. Oubaali went down like he was shot.
No one would have blamed the referee if he stopped it at that point, but the count was given. Oubaali got up again and staggered to his corner, getting a few precious seconds to gather his wits.
The fourth round was like a nature documentary; the jungle predator chasing his prey. Donaire said in the post-fight interview, he planned to take shots just to get his left hook in. He knew Oubaali was going to make a mistake and pay for it.
A couple of hooks decked Oubaali again, this time, the referee signaled it was over. Donaire broke his personal record, he turned 35 years old a couple of weeks after he beat Ryan Burnett for the WBA bantamweight crown.
For the record, the previous oldest bantamweight world champ was Donaire’s countryman Gerry Penalosa, who was 36 when he took the WBO bantamweight title from Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez.
Hard to believe it’s been 14 years since he knocked out Vic Darchinyan for the IBF flyweight title. Donaire would go on to get an interim WBA belt at 115 then win the WBC and WBO bantamweight titles, the WBO junior featherweight and WBA featherweight titles. He would drop down and win more titles – WBO junior featherweight and WBA bantamweight.
In between, every time he lost - Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nicholas Walters, Jessie Magdaleno,Carl Frampton and Inoue - there were those who thought his best years were behind him. But he kept bouncing back to add to his sure-fire Hall of Fame resume.
Nonito Donaire,Donnie Nietes and Manny Pacquiao are the only three Filipino boxers to win more than three world titles in different weights. Donaire has also beaten a total of 13 world champions.
Donaire (41-6,27KO’s) talked about facing Rigondeaux and Inoue again in his post-fight interview. His win against Oubaali in Carson,California will definitely give second thoughts to those who will peg him as an underdog again.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
IBF world junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas made a successful return after a sixteen month layoff and turned back the spirited challenge from Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It was a bruising encounter that went the distance. Ancajas, from Davao del Norte in the Philippines, showcased his boxing skills and shook the challenger early in the fight. But Rodriguez remained aggressive and kept the pressure. Rounds were highlighted by heavy exchanges to the body and head.
The boxers fought at a torrid pace, the defending champion’s accuracy seemed to give him a slight edge past the halfway mark. Ancajas cornered Rodriguez in the eighth round and accumulation of punches dropped the Mexican.
But Rodriguez remained true to his country’s warrior heritage. He survived and fought back and managed to keep things interesting in the late rounds. Ancajas was willing to stand in front of him and trade shot for shot. Ancajas’ cornerman, Joven Jimenez, had to egg him on going into the final canto.
After more brutal exchanges, they embraced after the final bell as a sign of mutual respect. The three judges scored for the Filipino champion – 115-112,116-111,117-110.
Ancajas is now 33-1-2,22KO’s while Rodriguez drops to 21-2,15KO’s.
This was the ninth defense of the title he won from Puerto Rico’s McJoe Arroyo in September 2016. The ongoing pandemic made Ancajas, as well as other Filipino boxers, endure long months of inactivity.
After winning the IBF title in the Philippines, Ancajas had all of his defenses overseas. Sadly, he is seemingly the odd man out in a talent rich 115 lb dvision that includes Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada (WBA/WBC), Nicaragua’s Roman Gonzalez, Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Japan’s Kazuto Ioka (WBO).
Another Filipino, Mark Magsayo (22-0,15KO’s), fought on the undercard and remained unbeaten after decking Pablo Cruz (21-4,6KO’s) of Texas thrice in a one-sided affair. The referee mercifully stopped it in the fourth.
The featherweight Magsayo is ranked by all four major boxing bodies- WBO number 8,WBC number 5, IBF number 5 and WBA number 10.
File photo-Jerwin Ancajas during a visit to Beijing in 2017.
By Rene V. Bonsubre,Jr
Rene Mark Cuarto added his name to the list of Filipino world title-holders by beating countryman Pedro Taduran by unanimous decision for the IBF world minimumweight title.
Both were tentative in the early going but things got heated in the third. They engaged at close quarters but Cuarto’s left hook and right lead, both time tested weapons against a southpaw like Taduran, began to find their mark.
Taduran pressed the action, while Cuarto was more effective using lateral movement to find angles for his left hook and counter right. The rounds were highlighted by heated exchanges.
In the seventh, Taduran shook Cuarto with a hard left and had the challenger backing up. But Cuarto recovered in the eighth as Taduran continued his pressure. The fight was close and up for grabs going into the last two rounds. It was matter of which style the judges’ preferred, Taduran’s aggressiveness or Cuarto’s counterpunching which was the overall trend of the fight.
The three judges – Roel Densing, Brembot Dulalas, and Rodel Garde all had it 115-113 for Cuarto. The third man in the ring was Sabas Ponpon,Jr.
Taduran was defending for the second time. In February of last year, he had a four round technical draw against Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares in Guadalupe,Mexico.
The fight was aired live online courtesy of Powcast Sports. In his post-fight interview, Cuarto stated they studied Taduran’s fighting style and their game plan was exactly what happened during the fight.
The latest IBF rankings had Cuarto at number 3 going into this bout. Because of the ongoing pandemic, Taduran was idle for a year while Cuarto did not fight for 14 months
The 24 year old Cuarto is now 19-2-2,11KO's while Taduran,also 24 years old, drops to 14-3-1,11KO's.
For the main undercard bouts, Orlie Silvestre beat Bonjun Loperez by UD, Vincent Astrolabio beat Jerry Pabila in one round, Genesis Libranza also stopped John Mark Apolinario in one round.
This card was held behind closed doors at the Bula Gym in General Santos City. This was also the second all-Filipino world title fight held on local shores this month. Last weekend, Vic Saludar won the secondary WBA world minimumweight title by split decision against Robert Paradero.
The other Filipino world champs are Jerwin Ancajas (IBF junior bantamweight) and Johnriel Casimero (WBO bantamweight).
File Photo- Rene Mark Cuarto (right) in Beijing with trainer Nonoy Neri in 2017.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
There was no changing of the guard in the minimumweight division in the Philippines as veteran Vic Saludar turned back the young and hungry Robert Paradero by split verdict in their clash for the vacant WBA regular world title.
Paradero came out swinging in the opening round while Saludar preferred to engage in a chess game of box and counter. A clash of heads in the second round cut both boxers but did not affect their fighting ability.
Both had trouble landing more than one shot at a time early on. Paradero went for Saludar’s midsection while Saludar was more effective timing his jab and one-two combinations. Paradero’s hook shook Saludar in the fourth and his body shots made Saludar think twice in the seventh. In between, Saludar’s accuracy got him points in the scoring areas.
In the ninth and tenth, Paradero moved around more and was more effective. Saludar however, showed championship poise in the last two rounds. Perhaps thinking the fight was much closer, Saludar fired his straight punches;Paradero may have removed his foot on the gas pedal too soon.
The scores - Aquil Tamano 115-113 and Danrex Tapdasan 116-112 for Saludar, while Alfie Jocosol scored for Paradero,118-110. The referee was Nowel Haduca.
The 30 year old Saludar is now 21-4,11KO's while the 24 year old Paradero suffered his first loss, 18-1,12KO's.
Saludar’s trainer Jojo Palacios had chat with this writer after the bout. He credits the hard training and game plan for the win.
“We allowed Paradero to attack, then counter.” Palacios said. “We expected him to be aggressive, he is hungry. But we knew we had an advantage in a long fight.
Saludar’s experience as a former WBO world mini-flyweight champion and former national amateur boxing team member paid off. Paradero entered the bout unbeaten but didn’t see any action abroad and was getting his first world title shot.
In the main supporting bout Carl Jammes Martin (17-0,15KO’s) remained unbeaten and knocked out Joe Tejones (13-8,7KO’s) with a hard right to the body in the fifth.
The fight was held in a football stadium in Binan City, Laguna but was behind closed doors due to covid-19 protocols and broadcast live on facebook and youtube.
Thammanoon Niyomtrong (21-0,7KO's) of Thailand is the 105 lb. division 'super' champion of the WBA and a 'unification' with Saludar would be an intriguing match-up.
Photo- Vic Saludar victorious vs Robert Paradero
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Philippine boxing took a hard body blow in 2020. The continuing spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) forced quarantine and lockdown procedures in the Philippines and lead to the cancellation of boxing promotions and all sports activities throughout the country. Boxing returned four months ago but continues to be held behind closed doors.
But things are slowly getting back to normal. A world title fight on home soil is a sign of hope. On February 20, former WBO world champion Vic Saludar (20-4,11KO's) will face unbeaten Robert Paradero (18-0,12KO's) for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight title in Biñan, Laguna.
This match-up had already been moved twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The two were originally set last December 5 and then January 30.
This will be the third all-Filipino world title bout on local shores. In 1925, Pancho Villa beat Clever Sencio by 15 round unanimous decision to retain the world flyweight crown in Wallace Field in Manila. In 2019, Pedro Taduran stopped Samuel Salva in Taguig City for the vacant IBF world minimumweight title. Two other all-Filipino world title fights were held in the United States in 2018-Jerwin Ancajas WUD12 Jonas Sultan (IBF jr.bantamweight title) and Donnie Nietes D12 Aston Palicte (vacant WBO jr.bantamweight title).
The 30 year old Saludar, who resides in Cagayan de Oro City in Mindanao, is already on his fifth day in the hotel bubble with trainer Jojo Palacios.
Palacios told this writer that their training went well and Saludar is just a pound over the contracted weight of 105 lbs. He is confident Saludar’s championship experience will pull him through.
The 25 year old Paradero, on the other hand, told this writer in a short chat that he is confident he can overcome the experience gap and beat Saludar. Paradero is also isolating in a gym. He has been inactive for almost 22 months due to the covid lockdown.
Saludar has the shorter lay-off at 14 months. He took the WBO 105 lb division title in Kobe,Japan last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka by unanimous decision. Last February, He beat another Japanese Masataka Taniguchi also by unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo in his first defense. He lost to Puerto Rican Wilfedo Mendez by unanimous verdict in San Juan,Puerto Rico.
In his first world title shot in 2015, Saludar was stopped by then WBO champ Kosei Tanaka in six rounds.
Saludar was a member of the Philippine amateur boxing team. He won a bronze medal in the light flyweight class in the 2010 Asian Games and his brother Rey won the gold in the flyweight category.
Photo- Vic Saludar (left) and Robert Paradero
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
WBO number one flyweight contender Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) of the Philippines and WBO number three Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan were supposed to square off last April for the vacant WBO world
But the match-up got postponed many times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Magramo remained in high spirits and continued to train. When the go signal was given to travel to Japan, he was ready.
“My training in the Philippines went well,” Magramo told this writer in a short chat, “We are now in Japan, but we have to quarantine. I am continuing to train inside the hotel.”
This bout is for the title vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February.
“I’m happy to finally get a title shot. I won’t give any predictions. But this is an opportunity to prove myself. I am praying to God for success.” Magramo stated.
Magramo was also in a disheartening situation last year. He was penned to face Thailand’s Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi on September 7 in an IBF eliminator with the winner set to be the next challenger of IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa. But, the Thai boxer was reported to have food poisoning and Magramo had to face substitute Richard Claveras and stopped him in three rounds. This however, did not lead to the title shot he had hoped for.
Nakatani also had his share of frustration. It was reported by asianboxing last March 18 that he left his training camp in the United States due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Nakatani has had cancel sparring with Luis Nery and returned to Japan.
Nakatani’s last two victims were Filipinos – Philip Luis Cuerdo who was knocked out in round one and former IBF world junior flyweight champ Milan Melindo, who was stopped in six. The 22 year old Japanese turned pro in 2015. He also beat three other Filipino boxers, Dexter Alimento,Jeronil Borres and Joel Taduran.
The 26 year old Magramo turned pro in 2012. His only career loss was by unanimous decision to Pakistani Muhammad Waseem in Seoul, South Korea. Magramo’s biggest road win was against the previously undefeated Chinese Wenfeng Ge in Suzhou,China. The fight was stopped at the end of the tenth when Ge suffered an eye injury.
File photo- Giemel Magramo in Suzhou,China last year.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
The ending was not exactly a surprise. Ghana’s Duke Micah was not ready for a fighter with the experience and skill level of the WBO world bantamweight champion, John Riel Casimero.
But, Casimero’s victory was badly needed in his home country, the Philippines. With the total number of coronavirus cases soaring past 300 thousand, and the nation enduring various stages of quarantine since March, plus millions of Filipinos who lost their jobs both locally and abroad, there was little to be thankful for.
Casimero himself had to endure a long wait. Underneath the confident façade, you can sense his bottled-up anger and frustration. Casimero has been in the United States since February, waiting and training for the unification fight against Japanese Naoya Inoue. But, when the coronavirus pandemic struck, boxing’s scheduled big fights went down as well.
Casimero started fast, launching a two-fisted offense that had Micah reeling from the opening round. A furious flurry sent Micah in round two, he bravely got up, but the ring doctor and the referee had to check on him before he was allowed to enter the third round.
But Casimero delivered the coup de grace in the form of a left hook and right uppercut combo and the WBO belt remained in his hands.
The fight was held at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Casimero is now 30-4,21KO’s while Micah suffered his first loss and drops to 24-1,19KO’s.
The Filipino boxing community celebrated. The last time a Filipino was involved in a world title bout abroad was in February, when Jeo Santisima lost to Mexican Emanuel Navarrete by eleventh round TKO in a WBO world junior featherweight title bout in Las Vegas.
Manny Pacquiao, the country’s top boxing gun, is currently concentrating on his duties as senator amidst the pandemic and will not see action in 2020. Boxing in the Philippines has been halted since March but could resume in October.
There are clouds of uncertainty and anxiety over the Philippine archipelago. Casimero’s win was a welcome ray of sunshine.
The 31 year old Casimero was offered last April a defense against erstwhile WBO number one ranked contender,American Joshua Greer. But Casimero and his camp chose to wait for Inoue (19-0,16KO’S).
The undefeated Japanese star will defend his WBA/IBF belts against Australian Jason Moloney (21-1,18KO’s) on October 31 in Las Vegas.
Will a Casimero-Inoue happen in 2021?
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
For the past twenty-four hours, the biggest boxing news (the biggest disappointment actually) here in the Philippines was that WBO bantamweight world champ John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s) will not be facing WBA/IBF champion Naoya Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) in his next fight.
Several publications have now reported that Casimero will be defending his title against Duke Micah (24-0,19KO’s) of Ghana on September 26 in Connecticut.
Casimero,who hails from the island of Leyte in the Philippines, has been in the United States since February. Fans have been salivating over the unification fight against Inoue since January. But, when the
Covid19 pandemic struck, boxing went down as well.
The sport may be back, but coronavirus precautions has KO’d the possibility of huge stadium bouts.Casimerowas offered last April a defense against erstwhile WBO number one ranked contender, American Joshua Greer. But Casimero and his camp opted to wait for Inoue. Casimero told this writer at that point in time that he wanted Inoue, and no one else. He continued his social media posts of “monster hunting”taunts against Inoue, whose ring moniker is “Monster”.
Greer would suffer an upset loss against Casimero’s countryman, MikePlania, while Casimero continued to wait.
Micah’s last five bouts were held in the U.S.He competed as a flyweight in the 2012 Olympics but lost in his second bout to Michael Conlan. In his pro career, he has captured WBO Africa, British Commonwealth and WBC International belts. He has beaten boxers with decent records but nowhere near the level of competition that the three-division champion Casimero has toppled - names like Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, AmnatRuenroeng, Charlie Edwards and ZolaniTete.
Photo- John Riel Casimero
By Rene Bonsubre Jr.
Filipino southpaw Joe Noynay (18-2-2,7KO’s) is just one of many boxers whose career got stalled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The reigning WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight titleholder has not fought since December, a fight that ended in a technical draw against Kenichi Ogawa in Tokyo.
But that may soon change. Noynay announced on social media yesterday that he received an invite from Top Rank,together with another Filipino boxer,Roldan Aldea. The story was immediately picked up by our friends at Powcast sports and Realfight.ph.
“I need to fight and earn money.” Noynay said, “Not having any fights is burning a hole in my pocket.”
He told this writer that he had no problems with his training even when the country was in lockdown. He will have to get a visa though but he is raring to fight again.
Getting visas and travelling overseas is still a hassle during this pandemic.
Noynay hails from Bogo,Cebu; a small city known in Philippine boxing as the birthplace of the great Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. Noynay was one of the Cebu based boxers who were given a citation during the 37th San Miguel Beer (SMB) - Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) Cebu Sports Awards last February.
Prior to the draw against Ogawa, Noynay had an impressive 2019. He stopped Japanese Kosuke Saka in two rounds in April and London Olympics bronze medalist Satoshi Shimizu in July. Both fights were also held in Japan.
Photo-Joe Noynay victorious in Japan
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, a few sporting disciplines have returned to offer fans a welcome distraction. Unfortunately for fight fans in the Philippines, boxing has been put on ice.
A few Filipino boxers who were already in the United States before travel restrictions were tightened have gotten fights and the lone win that stands out was Mike Plania’s upset over erstwhile WBO number one bantamweight Joshua Greer in Las Vegas last June 16.
But for the reigning Filipino world champions, the wait for ring action has been really tough.
IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) has not defended since December, an easy fight against Chilean Miguel Gonzalez in Mexico.
This would have been a problem for most fighters but Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez said the champ is in shape.
“He has continued to train. In fact we cautioned him about overtraining.” Jimenez told this writer, “He even continues to spar.”
Jimenez is hoping visa restrictions will ease for them to travel to the United States by August. He thinks the defense against Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s) of Mexico will happen. Rodriguez was supposed to fight Ancajas last November.
Jimenez also mentioned Top Rank’s plan for a unification against WBA titleholder Joshua Franco (17-1-2,8KO’s) of the U.S. Franco beat Australian Andrew Moloney for the “regular” WBA world title belt last June 23 by unanimous decision in Las Vegas. The WBA “super” champion is Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez.
Ancajas has been quoted that he is even open to fighting former four division champion Donnie Nietes. Jimenez said he has not received any formal notice about it.Nietes has not fought since vacating the WBO junior bantamweight title in 2019 and has been inactive for almost nineteen months.
Other Filipino champions continuing their long anticipation are IBF world minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1,11KO’s), WBO bantamweight king John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s) and WBA “super” world welterweight champ Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2,39KO’s).
Casimero is still in the U.S. but his unification with IBF/WBA champ Naoya Inoue of Japan is on hold. Casimero has not seen action since dethroning South African Zolani Tete last November in the U.K.
The 41 year old Pacquiao has not had a fight for almost a full year. He is also an incumbent Senator in the Philippines.
Taduran is the only Filipino world champion who made a defense in 2020. Last February, he fought Mexican Daniel Valladares to a technical draw in the challenger’s home turf.
It is also worth mentioning that one of the last fight cards held in the Philippines before contact sports was shut down was the World Boxing Foundation (WBF) minimumweight title fight between fellow Filipinos ArAr Andales and Rey Caitom. Andales (11-2,3KO’s) won by KO in round five to win the vacant title in Cebu City.
Photo- Joven Jimenez and Jerwin Ancajas (right)
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.