One thing we love here at Asian Boxing is a good old fashioned tournament. The Rookie of the Year in Japan and Battle Royal in South Korea are both great ways to get young talent some exposure. In 2019 there was something similar in the Philippines thanks to Gerry Penalosa's "Gerrypens Promotions" and ESPN TV5 who hosted the Ultimate Boxing Series. The tournaments were less deep that those tournaments in Japan and Korea, with just 2 weight classes, but they were still a fantastic opportunity for young fighters to make a name for themselves and get some exposure.
One of the men who shined in that tournament was talented youngster April Jay Abne (5-0, 2) of Wild Boxng in Cebu. The youngster impressed through out the tournament and went on to win the whole thing at Flyweight, showing fantastic skills and real maturity for someone so young and inexperienced.
The earliest footage we've managed to see of Abne was some sparring footage from 2018 and it was clear he was a natural talent, though a bit of a diamond in the rough. He was exciting, aggressive and like a little terrier. There wasn't much footage of him as an amateur, though he did apparently have an extensive amateur career, but it was clear that he was a a real talent, at a very young age.
Alongside the amateur footage of Abne we had the chance to see some sparring footage from 2018, as he was beginning to prepare to turn professional, something he did in 2019. Although Abne was small, really small, it was clear he could box, he knew his way around the ring and was looking like a natural talent, with some genuinely stunning body shots in his arsenal. Those at the Wild Boxing Gym seemed to know they had a real talent on their hands, but one that needed nurturing and sparring with the other top youngsters at the gym certainly helped there.
In February 2019 Abne made his professional debut, taking on fellow debutant Marvin Laping. The then 19 year old Abne dropped Laping several times to record an opening round TKO. The youngster, really showed what a natural talent he was, using the body shots that were shown off in the sparring footage along with some stunning counter punching, putting Laping down with a great counter right. Although his offensive work was impressive it was also nice to see him slipping and sliding shots, showing some impressive defensive skills, foot work and ring craft.
The win over Laping showed a real natural ability for Abne who, with just 1 fight to his name, entered the Universal Boxing Series (UBS). Just 3 months after his debut Abne was matched with southpaw Ronel Dela Cruz, then boasting a record of 6-0-1 (4), in a 6 rounder in the first round of the "UBS". Despite the step up in class from his debut Abne impressed. He regularly found a home for his straight hand up top, dropping Dela Cruz with a dynamite right hand in round 2. Dela Cruz got to his feet but couldn't match the skills or movement of Abne. Only weeks after beating Dela Cruz we saw Abne return to the ring to take on another unbeaten southpaw, Joseph Bayubay who was then 4-0-2 (2), in the UBS semi-final. Bayubay was aggressive, pressed the action and pressured Abne from the off. Abne soaked up the early pressure on and countered fantastically, using his feet to create space and landing clean right hands. Despite being forced to work for the win Abne was the deserved winner and booked his place in the final.
Abne's final bout in the UBS saw him moving up to the 8 round schedule and take on Ronel Sumalpong, then 8-1-1 (5), in August 2019. Abne, who had the much longer reach, made the most of his technical skills, defense, jab, movement and ring craft to neutralise most of Sumalpong's aggression and control much of the fight. It wasn't an exciting fight, for the most part, but it was a controlled performance from Abne, who looked the much more polished fighter. Some how one judge scored the bout even, but thankfully the other two judges got it right, giving Abne a majority decision win, and the the tournament victory.
Having won the UBS Abne could have relaxed for the rest of 2019 but actually fit in another fight in December, when he stopped Isagani Ypanto Llaban in 2 rounds. On paper this looks like a stay busy fight but Llaban had come in on the back of a good win over Ven Joshua Vanguardia, and had previously given a good test to Adrian Lerasan and held Roland Jay Biendima to a draw.
As with every fighter right now (this is being written in mid April so things are subject to change), it's fairly unclear when Abne will be back in the ring, though we're very excited to see what he will do in the coming years. The one thing missing from his game, so far, appears to be power, but at just 21 years old we expect him to build on his power as he develops his man strength. Given how clean of a puncher he is, knockouts will come and he really is someone to get very, very excited about.
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces