By Rene Bonsubre,jr
It was weekend like no other in the Philippines. Back to back title fights in different locations in Metro Manila and a champion defending his title overseas. When the dust settled, it was only John Riel Casimero who still had a world title belt around his waist.
Casimero faced Mexican visitor Cesar Ramirez at the San Andres Sports Center in Malate,Manila. Both boxers were hesitant to trade bombs at the start. Casimero’s left scored a flash knockdown in the third and there was a questionable knockdown in the fifth also against Ramirez. In between, Ramirez had his best moments on the outside, using his jab and landing quick one-two combos.
But Casimero was successful in turning it into a street fight. They took turns staggering each other but this type of battle was Casimero’s world. It brought back memories of Casimero’s nasty brawl and TKO win against Luis Alberto Lazarte in Argentina seven years ago.
In the seventh, Casimero blasted Ramirez through the ropes. A KO ending was looming. In the 10th a faded Ramirez succumbed and fell flat after being hit by a clean right to the jaw. Referee Ramon Peña correctly signaled the end as Ramirez (18-4,11KO’s) spent a few minutes lying on the canvas.
Aside from retaining the interim WBO title, Casimero (28-W-4L,19KO’s) earned the right to fight WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete of South Africa within ninety days.
Carlo Caesar Peñalosa could not capitalize his homecourt advantage and succumbed to the pressure fighting Mexican Maximino Flores. Peñalosa was on the back foot for most of the fight, seeking refuge on the ropes and preferring to counter. Flores continued to swing for the body, not thinking whether his punches were blocked or not, as long as he kept going forward.
An accidental clash of heads lead to a cut on Peñalosa’s left eye. The ring doctor allowed the fight to continue and Flores continued to control the action. Peñalosa landed clean shots but Flores just walked through them.
There was a weird moment after the sixth round when the Aussie referee Garry Dean announced the fight was stopped and was going to the scorecards. There was a miscommunication with the ring doctor who said he did not recommend the stoppage just yet.
The fight continued in the seventh after a brief protest by the Mexican camp. Peñalosa couldn’t do anything to change the complexion of the fight and it was stopped at the end of the round. The scores – Judges Jerrold Tomeldan (Philippines) and Adam Height (Australia) had it for Flores 68-65 and 67-66 respectively and Kevin Pyne (New Zealand) had it 67-66 for Peñalosa.
The fight for the vacant IBO world flyweight title was promoted by Carlo’s uncle, former two-division world champion Gerry Peñalosa and held at the TV5 Studio in Quezon City.
It seemed this was a case of Flores (25-4-1,17KO’s) simply having experienced better competition, previously losing to Andrew Selby of the U.K.and Filipino Milan Melindo. It will be back to the drawing boards for the 26 year old Peñalosa (14-2,7KO’s) who suffers his second pro loss.
Vic Saludar’s career seemed to be headed for greater heights after winning twice in Japan. But mandatory challenger Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez had other plans. Saludar defended the WBO minimumweight crown on Mendez’s home turf in San Juan,Puerto Rico and left an ex-champion.
Mendez (14-1,5KO’s) danced and jabbed his way to victory. Saludar’s left knocked him down in the fifth but this was near the end of the round and there was no time to follow it up. The trend continued wherein the southpaw Mendez circled effectively away from Saludar’s power right. He clinched when Saludar (19-4,10KO’s) got too close for comfort.
Mendez’s strategy was reminiscent of another Puerto Rican miniflyweight, Ivan Calderon. The scores at the end - 117-110, 116-111 and 115-112.
Saludar’s trainer Jojo Palacios could not make the trip to Puerto Rico because of visa issues. Filipino-Hawaiian Bobby Villaver, an experienced cornerman who made a name in Thailand, was Palacios’ replacement.
ULTIMATE BOXING SERIES
The undercard of the Penalosa-Flores fight saw the finals of the Ultimate Boxing Series tournament. The audience was treated to two close fiercely fought eight rounders.
April Jay Abne won the flyweight category with a majority decision win over Ronel Sumalpong while Lienard Sarcon was on the top of the bantamweights after beating Aljum Pelesio also by majority verdict.
PHOTO – Left to right – John Riel Casimero, Vic Saludar and Carlo Peñalosa
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Vic Saludar (19-3,10KO’s) is all set for another title defense on the road when he stakes his WBO minimumweight title against mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1,5KO’s) of Puerto Rico.
Saludar’s trainer Jojo Palacios had a short but interesting online chat with this writer about his fighter’s preparations.
“He will be leaving today (Monday) for the long travel to Puerto Rico” Palacios said, “I couldn’t join them because of visa issues. Bobby Villaver will be Vic’s cornerman during the fight. That will not be a problem because Villaver is actually my mentor.”
Villaver is a Filipino-Hawaiian who made waves as a trainer in Thailand years back when he trained Somsak Sithchatchawal - who was then a virtual unknown - who dethroned WBA world junior featherweight champion Mahyar Monshipour of France in 2006.
“Vic’s training went really well, he has no weight problems. He is having regular meals and is just 2.4lbs over after eating breakfast today.” Palacios stated.
Palacios also changed his prediction about the fight. Early in their training camp, he told this writer that he expected a difficult fight But when asked about his boxer’s chances during our chat he said that he was confident that Saludar would win by knockout.
The 28 year old Saludar took the title in Kobe,Japan last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka by unanimous decision. Last February, Saludar successfully defended his title for the first time against Japanese Masataka Taniguchi also by unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
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.
The 22 year old Mendez is the WBO number one contender and he holds the regional WBO NABO belt. His only loss happened last year by unanimous decision against Nicaraguan Leyman Benavides in the Dominican Republic.
Saludar vs Mendez will be at the Ballroom of the Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico in San Juan on August 24.
Photo – Vic Saludar celebrating his win in Japan
By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
Vic Saludar (19-3,10KO’s) of the Philippines will defend his WBO minimumweight world title against the mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1,5KO’s) of Puerto Rico. This will be another road battle for Saludar on August 24 with the fight set at the challenger’s home country.
Last February, Saludar successfully defended his title for the first time against Japanese Masataka Taniguchi by unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The 28 years old Saludar took the title in Kobe,Japan last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka, also by unanimous decision. Saludar decked Yamanaka in round seven with a hard right hand that changed the complexion of what was a close fight in the first six rounds.
Saludar lost in his first world title attempt on New Year’s Eve 2015, when then champion Kosei Tanaka stopped him with a body shot in round six.
“Saludar has already started to train,” Promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer. Rontal promotes Vic and his brother Froilan here in the Philippines and he heads Championship Boxing Promotions. They decided not to go through the purse bidding that was initially planned on June 27.
“Saludar’s training is going well,” Trainer Jojo Palacios told this writer, “He is very disciplined. This will be our most difficult challenge. We need to be very impressive in this fight, it will be a difficult fight but if the opportunity comes, we will go for a knockout.”
Saludar is a former mainstay 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.
Mendez is the WBO number one contender. The 22 years old southpaw is also ranked number 11 by the IBF and number 14 by the WBA. He was initially reported early this year as an opponent for Filipino Robert Paradero for the right to face Saludar. That fight didn’t push through.
Mendez holds the regional WBO NABO belt. His only loss happened in 2018, by unanimous decision against Nicaraguan Leyman Benavides in the Dominican Republic. In his last fight, Mendez scored a split decision verdict against countryman Janiel Rivera.
Mendez aims to follow the footsteps of countrymen Alex Sanchez and Ivan Calderon who previously held the WBO 105 lb division title.
August 24 will be an exciting day for Philippine boxing; on the same date Filipino Samuel Salva is scheduled to challenge IBF minimumweight world champion DeeJay Kriel of South Africa in Metro Manila.
PHOTO – Vic Saludar
By Rene Bonsubre
Filipino Vic Saludar came up with another victory on the road and retained his WBO world minimumweight title by unanimous decision against Japanese challenger Masataka Taniguchi at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
Saludar was tentative in the opening canto, with two of the three judges giving the round to Taniguchi. Saludar pulled away in rounds two to six, using his long jab and lateral movement, effectively sidestepping whenever the southpaw Taniguchi tried to close in and land his left. Taniguchi continued to press the action but fell prey to Saludar’s hard counters.
Sensing he was falling behind past the halfway mark, Taniguchi tried to engage at close quarters. His aggressiveness earned him the seventh round. The Japanese’s forward action continued trying to bulldoze his way and disrupt the Filipino’s game plan of fighting on the outside.
Saludar defused the situation. He showed poise and accuracy in the endgame, sweeping the last three rounds in all the three judges’ cards.
The scores - Luis Ruiz (Puerto Rico) - 118-110, Chris Tellez (USA) -117-111 and Surat Soikrachang (Thailand)- 117-111. The referee was Kenny Bayless (USA).
Saludar is now 19-3,10KO’s while Taniguchi drops to 11-3,7KO’s. Trainer Michael Palacios was in Saludar’s corner for this fight. Taniguchi came into this fight with wins against Filipinos Joel Lino, Joey Bactul, Benjie Bartolome, Dexter Alimento, Vincent Bautista and Raymark Taday
“Ring generalship, how he controlled the fight and patience were essential in this victory,” Saludar’s promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer after the fight.
Saludar’s skill level was sharpened by his stint with the Philippine amateur boxing team. He was a bronze medalist at the 2010 Asian Games in the 52kg category.
When asked if Saludar can defend his title on home soil, Rontal said they haven’t thought about it yet. “We just would like to thank all those who supported us and rest for the meantime.”
This was Saludar’s first defense of the title he won in July of last year in Kobe, Japan against Ryuya Yamanaka.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Vic Saludar of the Philippines is preparing for the first defense of his WBO world minimumweight title on February 26 at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. He will face the number two ranked contender Masataka Taniguchi.
The 25 year old Taniguchi (11W-2L,7KO’s) moved up the ranks when he won the vacant WBO Asia Pacific title in the 105 lb division by unanimous decision against Filipino Joel Lino in Bangkok, Thailand last November. Taniguchi has seen action twice in the Philippines. In 2016, he knocked out Joey Bactul in two rounds in a fight held in Maasim, Sarangani. Then a year later, he stopped Benjie Bartolome in one round in Makati City. Other Filipinos on his win column are Dexter Alimento, Vincent Bautista and Reymark Taday.
The 28 year old Saludar (18W-3L,10KO’s) will be making his second straight trip to Japan. He took the title in Kobe last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka by unanimous decision. Saludar decked Yamanaka in round seven with a hard right hand that turned the tide of what started as a close fight. Two of the three judges actually scored it even after round six.
Saludar also sensed it was close. “It was only after I knocked him down in round seven that I thought I could win.” Saludar told this writer in an interview one month after the fight, “Still it was a tough fight all the way.”
“He kept targeting my body,” Saludar added,” I knew that was their plan, but I was ready.”
In his first trip to Japan, Saludar lost in his first world title attempt on New Year’s Eve 2015, when then champion Kosei Tanaka stopped him with a body shot in round six.
Saludar is once again readying himself for another battle on the road.
“For the past weeks, Vic has been sparring with Dave Apolinario and Jaysever Abcede. Next week, Joey Canoy will be added as sparring partner.” Saludar’s Promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer.
Apolinario is an unbeaten flyweight prospect with a 9-0,6KO’s record while Abcede (18-8,12KO’s) captured the WBA Asia flyweight title last year by knocking out in two rounds Thai Yutthana Kaensa in Bangkok.
Canoy (14-3-1,7KO’s) had to settle for a no contest in an IBO world title fight in South Africa last December when defending champion Simpiwe Konkco suffered a cut due to a clash of heads and the fight was stopped in round four.
“He is doing well in training,” Rontal added, “He will be prepared with whatever Taniguchi will bring. He will just have to stick to the game plan.”
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