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.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
The worldwide spread of COVID-19 has left the entire sporting world on the canvas. Professional boxing’s big fights are rescheduled and the Tokyo Olympics – with boxing as one of the events - moved to next year. One of the high profile postponements is the highly anticipated bantamweight unification match between WBO champion John Riel Casimero and Naoya Inoue, who has the WBA and IBF titles.
Casimero (29-4,20KO’s) has been training in the U.S. since February for what would have been a Las Vegas megafight on April 25. But when the coronavirus started to spread in the U.S, the fight had to be put on hold. Casimero’s Miami training camp had strength and conditioning guru Memo Heredia and Cuban coach Pedro Roque. Inoue was reported to have tapped popular Filipino contenders Albert Pagara and KJ Cataraja as his sparmates. Inoue (19-0,16KO’s) was reported last month to be the betting favorite at 7-2.
Team Casimero transferred their training camp to Las Vegas and he remains focused despite all the distractions. With community quarantine and social distancing now becoming the new normal, Casimero is training in relative isolation in a house in Vegas with new equipment bought by Sean Gibbons, who heads MP Promotions.
“I’m okay, Sir Sean bought the equipment we need to continue training,” Casimero told this writer in a short chat. “I am still focused. They told me the fight will happen in June or July, so I always ready.”
“Las Vegas doesn’t have many cases, so it’s ok.” Casimero stated, “I will just continue to train. My conditioning is fine. So, when they call me, I am ready.”
Casimero has been very vocal on social media about his chances and even posted on his new facebook page that he is an underrated boxer who will soon become unified champion. Inoue of course, will have something to say about that. It seems the fighter who will maintain his conditioning and focus during the rescheduling period will have an advantage.
Photo - Casimero with trainer Nonoy Neri- from video courtesy of John Riel Casimero
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
The fight for the vacant WBO world flyweight title between Giemel Magramo (24-1,20KO’s) of the Philippines and Junto Nakatani (20-0,15KO’s) of Japan is one of numerous fight cards that have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The fight, which was set for April 4 in Tokyo, was for the title vacated by Japan’s Kosei Tanaka last February.
Magramo is no stranger to disappointing situations. Last year, he was scheduled to face Thailand’s Eaktawan Krungthepthonburi on September 7 in an IBF eliminator set in Metro Manila. The winner was supposed to be the next challenger of IBF flyweight champion Moruti Mthalane of South Africa.
But, the Thai boxer was reported to have succumbed to food poisoning and Magramo had to face substitute Richard Claveras and stopped him in three rounds. That fight however, was not the final step to a world title showdown that Magramo had hoped.
But last February, Magramo, who is now the number one flyweight contender of the WBO, was reported to be facing the number three Nakatani for the title.
This will be the first world title shot for both boxers. Magramo remains in high spirits in the midst of all the uncertainty. He is based in Paranaque City in Metro Manila, which is now in a state of lockdown due to the coronavirus.
“I am safe, I am feeling good.” Magramo told this writer in a short chat. “I was told we could be fighting on June 6. So, I am still training at the Elorde Gym.”
Nakatani was reported by asianboxing last March 18 to have left his training camp in the United States and returned to Japan. The report stated that due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., Nakatani has had cancel sparring with Luis Nery and that he will resume training back in Japan rather than taking time out of the gym to relax.
Nakatani’s last two opponents 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.
It was reported that all shows set until April 30 were cancelled or postponed by the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and the JPBA (Japan Professional Boxing Association). The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has posted on their website that due to the current situation worldwide caused by Covid-19, the WBO has postponed all boxing events through June 2020.
It is still in doubt as to whether the situation will improve in Asia a couple of months from now but everyone in the boxing industry are hoping.
World title fights in the United States involving Asian boxers are also affected by postponements notably the unification fight between WBA/IBF bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue of Japan and WBO champ John Riel Casimero of the Philippines as well the IBF junior bantamweight title defense of Filipino Jerwin Ancajas vs Mexican Jonathan Rodriguez.
File photo – Giemel Magramo in Suzhou, China January 2019
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
A couple of weeks ago, Filipino boxing fans on social media were buzzing with excitement when photos surfaced of world ranked featherweight Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo hitting the mitts with the legendary trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym.
Magsayo had a short chat with this writer about this interesting development in his career.
“My wife is now handling my business affairs. I am currently choosing the best promoter for me.” Magsayo told this writer in a short interview, “My wife was the one who contacted Roach, I was very surprised.”
Magsayo is still undefeated. But he is still star struck even when he has visited the Wild Card Gym in previous years. “Very surreal for me, until now I can’t believe it. It is one of my dreams to be trained by a legend.”
“I am learning a lot of things now, realizing my mistakes in the ring and Coach Freddie is correcting all of them. I am like a kid who is going to school again which is great for me. I am not perfect and I have been wanting to learn from someone like this. It is my goal to be better all the time to be a champion, and I am on the right track now with Coach Freddie as my head trainer.”
Magsayo turning pro in 2013 was covered in the local papers. He was a sought after amateur prospect, a teen phenom who won four national amateur titles in the Philippines.
He did not disappoint with his all-action style. Even as a sophomore pro, he was mentioned as the next Manny Pacquiao. He began winning regional belts and climbed up the world rankings.
His biggest win on local shores was in 2016, a scintillating shootout against American Chris Avalos, a former world title challenger. Magsayo rose from the canvas to stop Avalos in six rounds on the undercard of Nonito Donaire’s title defense against Hungarian Zsolt Bedak. This card drew the biggest live crowd in the history of Cebu City with estimates exceeding 30,000.
Magsayo was the WBO number one contender in 2017 and a title shot was already within reach. But then came his well-publicized split with ALA Promotions which led to his inactivity for the whole of 2018. Magsayo signed with a Malaysian manager and NOW Boxing Promotions and came back in 2019, scoring wins against Indonesian Erik Deztroyer in Singapore and Thai former WBO world champ Panya Uthok in Magsayo’s home island of Bohol.
Magsayo (20-0,14KO’s) told this writer that he has been in the U.S. since January 22. He is not dwelling on the fact that he lost one year of his career, “I am only 24 years old,” He said. “I wanted to fight Oscar Valdez but he moved up.”
He is currently ranked number six by the WBC. He is thinking of a future fight against Gary Russell or any of the world titleholders at 126 lbs. “I am also ranked now number 15 by the IBF and number 11 by the WBA, I want to fight any champion, I want to win a world title.”
Photo- Mark Magsayo
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Froilan Saludar (31-3,22KO’s) will return to Japan to defend his WBO Asia Pacific junior bantamweight title against Japanese Ryoji Fukunaga (11-4,11KO’s) on February 14. Saludar won the vacant title last September by eighth round TKO against another Japanese, Tsubasa Murachi at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. His defense against Fukunaga will be at the same venue.
Trainer Jojo Palacios told this writer in a short chat that Saludar is now at 90 percent in terms of reaching his peak form for the bout.
“He is now at 118 lbs, so there will be no problem making 115 lbs for the fight,” Palacios stated, “He went through 120 rounds in sparring against Aston Palicte,Raymond Tabugon, Jayson Mama, Glen Porras and Dave Apolinario.”
Team Saludar will leave for Manila on February 10 then fly to Japan the next day.
“If he was in this kind of shape in the Kimura fight, he would have won the world title.” Palacios declared.
During the early part of his career, the 30 year old Saludar was considered one of the bright prospects here in the Philippines. But, he came up short in big fights: In 2014, he was stopped in two rounds by Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo in an IBF title eliminator and in 2018, he was stopped in six rounds by then WBO world flyweight champ Sho Kimura of Japan.
The win against Murachi gave Saludar’s career a new lease on life. Murachi entered the fight a 4-0,3KO’s record and figured to make Saludar a stepping stone to fast track his career. But Saludar had other plans.
It would be interesting to see if Saludar can make the most of this career rejuvenation. His brother, Vic Saludar already won and lost the WBO world mini-flyweight title and is also on the comeback trail.
Fukunaga is a southpaw who has gone 1W-2L in his last three fights. He lost in his first attempt a regional belt,the OPBF Silver super flyweight title, by unanimous decision in Thailand to Jakkrawut Majoogoen.
Photo - Froilan Saludar
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.