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
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