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)
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
News of the WBO world title fight between Filipino Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) and Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan came as ray of hope in an otherwise gloomy sports landscape in the Philippines. This fight is for the flyweight crown vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February and was initially set for April 4 in Tokyo.
Magramo told this writer in a short chat last March that he was told he could be fighting on June 6 and he was continuing to train at the Elorde Gym. But, the dire situation worldwide caused by the coronavirus pandemic continues. Now,it seems the fight will take place in Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall on July 4.
Arrangements for the fight, as well as the safety protocols are among the concerns of Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde, Japanese promoter Akihiko Honda, Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra ,WBO Asia Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo,and Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC).
Travelling to Japan will be a huge problem at this time but boxing stakeholders and fans hope things will get better come July.
WBO Vice President Panoncillo made this writer aware last Tuesday of the safety guidelines of the World Boxing Organization for sanction approval which include:
1.Only critical personnel for the staging of the event are allowed inside.
2.If fans are allowed, there should be one section row empty in between and one vacant seat in between fans in the occupied row.
3.Temperature checks, hand santizer sections, masks and avoidance of crowding.
4.Covid-19 testing for boxers, cornermen, and officials.
The entire set of guidelines is more detailed but it can be done.
Another WBO champion, John Riel Casimero (29-4,20KO’s)from the Philippines, (29-4,20KO’s) has also been waiting for the final date for the bantamweight unification bout against WBA/IBF champ Naoya Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) of Japan.
In a conversation with this writer three weeks ago, Casimero strongly stated that he does not want substitute Joshua Greer (22-1-1,12KO’s) of the United States, who is the top contender for his crown.
Casimero told this writer today that he trusts MP (Manny Pacquiao) Promotions chief Sean Gibbons will deliver the Inoue fight in July. Casimero is still in the United States continuing to wait and train.
Another Filipino world champ, Jerwin Ancajas,who holds the IBF junior bantamweight title, is also waiting for the month of July.
Ancajas (32-1-2,22KO’s) was supposed to defend his IBF world junior bantamweight title last April against Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez (21-1,15KO’s) in the U.S.
Ancajas’ manager Joven Jimenez told this writer today that Ancajas is staying in shape and could be defending his belt in July. Ancajas is in the Philippines and will need to travel to the U.S. before the fight can be set.
Here in the Philippines, local fighters are still waiting for plans to restart the boxing industry. These boxers are the sports equivalent of minimum wage earners. They have received government aid but it is still not enough if contact sports is not resumed soon.
Of course, the people in charge will have to weigh their decision to reopen. There is no price tag on a human life. But, the powers that be in the Philippines can learn from what the UFC and German football are doing; two major sports franchises that have resumed activities under strict testing and staging events behind closed doors.
As I have stated in a previous article, only a cure and a vaccine for Covid-19 will make things return to the way it used to be.
PHOTO- left to right – Giemel Magramo, John Riel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
IBF world minimumweight champion Pedro Taduran (14-2-1,11KO’s) is one of the many Filipino boxers waiting for the sporting world to resume activities. With almost the entire planet coming to a virtual standstill due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, athletes are forced to find ways to stay active.
Taduran, who is based in the Hardstone Monis Boxing Gym in Valenzuela City,Metro Manila,is currently in Bicol. With majority of the Philippines’ Covid-19 cases in the National Capital Region, Taduran is in a region more than 400 kilometers from Manila.
“I am just jogging right now to stay in shape.”, Taduran told this writer in a short chat. “I have not received any messages about any offers for my next title defense.”
Last February, the 23 year old Taduran retained his title after a four round technical draw against Mexican challenger Daniel Valladares. This was the southpaw Taduran’s first defense and he did it on the road in Guadalupe,Mexico.
His manager,Art Monis also had a brief chat online with this writer. He is in La Union,another province in the Philippines.
“I am fine. But this is a difficult time for the boxers. They don’t have income because there are no fights. It is hard for their day to day spending. Many boxers went home to their families in their provinces. Some are here in La Union. Taduran got stuck in Bicol,the lockdown was imposed. There was another offer in Mexico,possibly June but covid-19 stopped everything.”, Monis said.
Monis also mentioned his other note-worthy boxer,Michael Dasmariñas,who is with him in La Union. Dasmariñas is the current number one bantamwieght contender of the IBF but his shot at Naoya Inoue will have to wait pending Inoue's unification bout against John Riel Casimero.
Taduran won the vacant IBF title against countryman Samuel Salva last September. Salva knocked down Taduran in the first but non-stop pressure from Taduran made Salva wilt and decide not to answer the bell for the fifth round.
Taduran also has message for his countrymen enduring life in community quarantine: Stay safe.This will all pass. Once this will end, we will enjoy boxing again.
Photo-Pedro Taduran and Art Monis
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
The sport of boxing has been on the canvas for weeks as the dreaded novel coronavirus continues to spread in 210 countries and territories. Major fight cards are postponed as the host countries struggle to contain the deadly virus. While fight fans are reminiscing about classic fights at home, the powers that be are discussing the various scenarios where boxing can make a comeback.
That will depend first of all if the efforts to “flatten the curve” will actually succeed. It is not just sports, but entire governments want to reopen and go back to the way things were. But every day, when we turn on the news, we find that we are still far from getting back to normal.
The President of the WBO, Paco Valcarcel, has said that the WBO has withdrawn sanctioning of bouts through the month of June as well as freezing their rankings. A couple of weeks ago, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said that for fights to resume, even behind closed doors, strict protocols should be in place for the fighters and their teams which include “having fighters and their teams isolated for at least a month in the areas where the function would take place and during that period, they would have to do the laboratory medical tests to make sure everyone is healthy."
The website of the WBA has an article stating that its president, Gilberto Jesus Mendoza and the members of the directorate met virtually to discuss having boxing events behind closed doors. Last April 17,the IBF lost Board member and former referee Eddie Cotton, who passed away and was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the hospital.
A couple of weeks ago, Top Rank’s Bob Arum said he was in no rush to get fighters back into the ring. One of the high profile bouts postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic is the bantamweight unification between John Riel Casimero and Naoya Inoue. Arum recently said that the fight is unfortunately now in the backburner. Matchroom Sports’s Eddie Hearn has also been talking about fights being held behind closed doors and smaller venues.
The low income boxers will be severely affected by the pandemic. They may wind up not having any fights and purses for several months, even until the end of the year.
So how can boxing make a comeback? These are the few scenarios that crossed my mind:
Boxers will obviously need to be tested negative for the novel coronavirus before they are cleared to fight. Then we will have to test the cornermen and the boxing officials. I would not be surprised if even the ring girls need to be cleared as well.
Then we will have to screen the spectators. Temperature checks as well as having them seated at least six feet apart. Masks would have to be required for everyone in the venue who is not fighting. Fewer spectators would mean less ticket sales and could very well mean that plans for big fights could be put on hold.
This will still be a worrisome scenario without a vaccine or cure.
What are the medical scientists doing in the race for a cure?
An article posted on the BBC website stated that more than 150 different drugs are being researched around the world. Most are already existing drugs that are being tested against the virus. Many research centers around the world are attempting to use the blood of patients who recovered from the virus as a treatment. The results of the various drug trials will be available in the next few months.
Human trials for vaccines have started last month. Usually, it takes years to develop a vaccine but desperate times call for desperate measures and the race for an effective vaccine against Covid-19 has been fast-tracked. The most optimistic experts say it will be available by mid-2021.
There are countries like Sweden that are using a herd immunity strategy, Herd immunity happens when enough people have immunity to a disease, in this case through exposure and natural immunity, to make it difficult for the virus to infect new victims.
The situation remains an uphill battle. Any of the major sports will be different without the roar of the crowd. Not just from a profit standpoint but also if you view it from the drama or lack of it when no cheers can be heard when a boxer gets knocked down.
The bottom line is the safety of the participants. No one will be taking a risk of staging an event where people could catch a potentially fatal illness. For that to happen, a cure and a vaccine are needed to be widely available.
But fans should not lose hope. Medical science will find a way to save not just boxing but the entire planet.
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.