Much of the attention on the boxing world this coming Tuesday will be in Japan, for a world title double header, there is however one other world title bout taking place, this time in Thailand, as long reigning WBA Minimumweight "Super" champion Knockout CP Freshmart (22-0, 8) defends his title against Filipino challenger Robert Paradero (18-1, 12).
The talented 31 year old champion is one of the longest reigning active world champions in the sport, and he has held every version of a WBA title over the years. He won the interim title way back in 2014, won the regular title in 2016 and was finally upgraded to super champion behind his 2020 bout with Norihito Tanaka. Sadly whilst his reign has been long, and has included notable wins over the likes of Byron Rojas, Carlos Buitrago, Chaozhong Xiong, Rey Loreto and Muhammad Rachman, it's been a rather boring reign. He's not looked like "Knockout" CP Freshmart and more "Decision CP Freshmart", and he falls somewhat in the same vein as Devin Haney, Dmitry Bivol and Demetrius Andrade in focusing on winning first, rather than entertaining. As a result a lot of his bouts feel like they drag on, especially in the later stages when he often becomes more reserved and more cautious.
At his best Knockout is an excellent boxer. He's intelligent, he moves well, he's clean and accurate with his punches, creates spaces, and has respectable power. There's not really too many areas to pick on regarding his skillset, though that doesn't change the fact he often fights well within himself, and is rarely pushed. Despite not having many flaws, there is some areas where's not great. His power is certainly not terrifying, his out put limited at times, there are question marks about his stamina, and we do wonder how easily he makes 105lbs given he is now 31. It's clear he is among the very best at 105lbs, but we do feel that there fighters out there who have the tools to beat him, and we think a high output fighter, with a good chin, would his Kryptonite to him.
Aged 25 Robert Paradero is a Filipino fighter who turned professional in 2014, and quietly made his name fighting at home. He won his first 18 bouts without really facing anyone of note, and it was disappointing not to see his team push him hard and actually get him decent tests and experience. It was clear he was very talented but beating the likes of Ian Ligutan, Jong Sabellina and Jonathan Almacen did little more than pad his record, and didn't get him the developmental rounds he really needed before facing a major step up. Sadly for him he was moved up, big time, earlier this year and his lack of decent level experience showed as he lost a competitive split decision to Vic Saludar for the WBA "Regular" Minimumweight title. With a few solid developmental fights he could well have beaten Saludar, but didn't have the experience he needed. Sadly coming in to this bout, Saludar is the only man of note that Paradero has faced, and it again feels like he hasn't yet had the developmental fights that he needs to face someone like Knockout CP Freshmart.
In the ring Paradero is a very nice boxer, he has a nice sharp sharp, he knows hoe to move around the ring and decent speed. Sadly though he did look out of ideas when he faced Saludar, and as the fight went on he became more and more negative, skirting around the outside of the ring whilst looking worried about the power and physicality of Saludar. It was clearly a game plan, to move and make the slower Saludar chase him, but he simply didn't do enough at times and waited too long to let his own shots go. He never looked out classed against Saludar, but he looked like a man who was simply fighting the wrong fight and failing to make the most of the opportunity. He also didn't do enough, and was far too conservative for much of the bout. He looked relaxed, even in the later stages, but he failed to put his foot on the gas in the final seconds of rounds and tried to steal them.
If Paradero was given a year of Oriental level fights, given those types of bouts to mature, develop and prepare for a world title bout, we honestly think he could pick up a title. He's got a lot going for him, but needs testing bouts to develop and learn. Sadly jumping from low level domestic foes, to Saludar and then to Knockout is not the way to develop a world champion.
Sadly travelling to Thailand is never easy, beating Knockout CP Freshmart will never be easy, and doing that after having no wins of note will also not be easy. We suspect Parader will start well, he'll have success with his speed and his long, looping shots, but overall that success will be limited and instead we'll see Knockout control large swathes of the bout. To do that he will dictate the range and tempo of the bout, he will counter Paradero, and make him think twice about throwing shots, and after 8 or 9 rounds he'll be in a comfortable lead and cruise to the final bell, and his latest defense.
Prediction - UD12 Knockout CP Freshmar
By Troy Parslow
Boxing has seen it’s share of mercurial talent—fighters whose blowing hot and cold is often independent of their brilliant skill or opposition. This fickle sport rewards their drama, but not without frustration.
In the context of current fighters, I think of Kosei Tanaka’s silver bullet left hook to body bailing him out in the fights he couldn’t help himself, and I think of one it’s victims: Vic Saludar.
Next week, one half of the impossible Saludar clan’s two championship contenders, Vic, 20-4 (11), takes on obscure Robert Paradero, 18-0 (12), in an all-Filipino clash for a secondary WBA ‘regular’ minimumweight title. Months in the making, this Elorde promotion will take place outdoors at the Binan football stadium on February 20th.
Vic, born Victorio Saludar, in Polomolok, is perhaps conspicuous by his absence amongst reigning minimumweight champions. He’s long since had the ability, and in 2019 he had the belt (WBO). Even then it had taken him until his second attempt to realise; having built a lead, with the help of a knockdown, challenging Kosei Tanaka earlier in the same WBO lineage, before the aforementioned falling victim to a left hand solution. There’s no shame in succumbing to a rare dynamism, of course, but the same inconsistencies would follow Saludar in his career. If he wasn’t already rebuilding, he would go on to be shocked by the warring Toto Landero a year later, dropping a ten round split decision.
In 2018, having recovered from shock defeat with two wins over Mike Kinaadman and a second over Lito Dante, Saludar won WBO glory at the second time of asking. Travelling away to Japan to strip underrated Ryuya Yamanaka of his title in a well-contested fight, and returning to successfully defend against talented Masataka Taniguchi, just as it looked for all the world that Saludar could pass championship muster, his second defence saw him so desperately drop his belt to inexperienced Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez. Not a favourable style match up, or one that covered either of them in particular glory, more disappointing was Saludar’s lack of urgency or worse yet, answers.
Just in his last fight (December 2019), despite going on to win by stoppage, Saludar was dropped by journeyman Mike Kinaadman for the first time in three meetings. Now 30, if he is to put it to rights and redefine his career, he has to start against Robert Paradero.
If Paradero, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, is equally conspicuous, it would in his absence of meaningful fights. Still early in his career, just 24 years old, it’s not for us to decide how he builds, but, naturally, there’s the question of his ability to contend. Of his 18 wins, the one of most significance came in his last fight, in which he stopped Jonathon Almacen in the first round. Fine form, if lacking in real substance for it’s early finish. I don’t think anyone would argue that with Almacen and seventeen much of a muchness journeymen to his name, ‘Inggo’ isn’t charitably ranked. But, for now, it won’t matter to him: his competition has afforded him the opportunity, and there’s nothing immaterial about this next step up.
In the ring, one might describe Paradero’s fighter as a livewire. That is to say, although he’s erratic and not technically sound, he’s elastic and busy. His movement has looked excessive on occasion, and much of his defence relies on reflexes: reacting in time to slip punches he’s seen coming or bounce out of range. He is improving here though, and in the short time against Almacen he was moving his head more as he circled. I think Paradero looks at his best here, circling, raiding and bouncing back out at a new angle. Raiding like this gets the most out of his in and out footwork and leaping attacks, without exposing him for as long in the pocket. He can mix it up close with dedicated body punching and the use of throwaway punches to engineer the space, but his balance is poor and his loose punching form and lack of proactive defence can leave him wide open.
By contrast, Saludar is a tight, neat puncher. He’s more balanced than Paradero, more proactive and in turn, a lot more comfortable moving in the pocket and punching off of sidesteps and pivots. He’s a bona fide puncher, but in the shape of a very capable boxer, occupying his opponents guard to take an angle to exit the pocket, step around them or circle, he doesn’t always look for opportunities to set his feet and punch enough. Regardless, a dexterous right hand and sensitivity for distance and timing keep him dangerous when any opponent is stepping to him.
Saludar has tended to looked comfortable enough all the time he’s been allowed the freedom to step in and out of range at his own discretion—and even then he can get complacent—but without that same autonomy, he’s less fluid. Against Wilfredo Mendez, for example, with the onus on him to pressure, he was exposed for his inability to cut off the ring and he couldn’t get anything going.
Granted, it’s a fight largely of unknowns, namely the form of Saludar and Paradero’s ability to step up, but it’s not one I’d want to back against a former champions relative cunning. I do think, if he approaches it maturely and Saludar obliges him, Paradero can enjoy success baiting, circling and raiding when Saludar picks his feet up. Ultimately, though, he’s not better than Saludar at any one thing, and I doubt he has the consistency himself, at this stage, to gameplan to win this fight raiding off the back foot. He leaves himself exposed in transition too often and he hasn’t had the fights to prove it won’t be a problem.
Saludar is a heavy favourite. But he’s also a Saludar, and thereby no sure thing.
World Title Previews
The biggest fights get broken down as we try to predict who will come out on top in the up coming world title bouts.