Sadly it's been hard to find many Filipino bouts from 2019 that we've been to include in this series. It's a shame and something that we expect to see become even more difficult if we continue this series for 2020. That's not because the Philippines hasn't got good fights, but because so few of them are internationally available in good quality. Thankfully however we do have one really interesting bout, that we advise people to watch, from February 2019 and better yet, it sees a young unbeaten hopeful being given his first real test.
Dave Apolinario (9-0, 6) vs Romshane Sarguilla (7-1-2, 4)
In one corner was rising prospect Dave Apolinario, a really talented and unbeaten Filipino fighter who was following in the footsteps of his brother, John Mark Apolinario. At just 20 years old the talented southpaw hopeful needed to be tested, and needed to be in the ring with someone who was going to ask questions of him. He needed to fight someone wanting to beat him, someone who came to win.
Thankfully we saw Apolinario finally facing a fighter trying to beat him when he stepped in the ring with Romshane Sarguilla in a scheduled 8 rounder at the Midas Hotel and Casino in Pasay City. Sarguilla was not a special fighter but he was a hungry fighter, who's only loss up to this point was a close decision to Powell Balaba at Super Flyweight, not his more natural Flyweight. He was tough, hungry, young and wanting make a name for himself, rather than a fighter happy to roll over for the touted prospect.
From the opening round you could see Sarguilla was there to win, pressing forward against the more skilled and talented Apolinario. The under-dog was pressing behind his solid jab, moving when he needed to showing enough respect to Apolinario to not leave himself open, but enough ambition to make it clear he was here to win. Sadly the ambition and belief alone weren't going to be enough against the more rounded, and very skilled, Apolinario. He knew he had to take some risks and did so towards the end of the first round, making Apolinario look uncomfortable as the pace picked up.
The unbeaten man, who was in against his first opponent who had come to upset him, had the clear edge in skills but had to do more than just rely on the skills he had, and had to try and get respect from Sarguilla, landing his own big shots to close out the opening round and open the second round.
The fight continued to be an intriguing test throughout, with Apolinario being forced to answer questions by a fighter there to win. It wasn't an all out war, as a number in this series are, but was instead a brilliant test for a youngster who was forced to show what he was about against an opponent looking to make the most of a big opportunity.
If you like seeing prospects being given a test then this is well worthy of your time.
Interestingly this wasn't the only hidden gem featuring Sarguilla from the year, with the Filipino travelling over to Thailand to play his part in a cracking little bout with Siridech Deebook in August as well.
Takahiro Onaga is a regular contributor to Asian Boxing and will now be a featured writer in his own column where his takes his shot at various things in the boxing world.