Pacquiao’s luster dims; Donaire takes cudgels
- Published on Wednesday, 02 January 2013 23:00
- Written by BONG PEDRALVEZ
By A Web design Company
MANNY Pacquiao’s luster dimmed further when he suffered his second straight shocking setback last year, losing by a knockout to Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez on Dec. 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Exactly a week later, Nonito Donaire more than made up for the defeat of his more illustrious compatriot with a brilliant third-round knockout of tough Mexican hombre Jorge Arce, forcing his opponent into retirement, in Houston, Texas.
These contrasting outcomes–in what some saw as the changing of the guard between the most prominent Filipino prizefighters–were the main highlights in another eventful and busy year for Philippine professional boxing.
The year 2012 began on a tragic and sobering note on Jan. 28 when promising Karlo Maquinto collapsed after seeing action in a super flyweight bout of a card promoted by former world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa in Caloocan City.
The 21-year-old Lambunao, Iloilo native lay in coma after the match and died six days later, sparking a new public outcry for more measures to ensure the safety of boxers fighting locally. The furor, however, eventually died down.
Before the month ended, news reports claimed Pacquiao, who grew up a devout Catholic under her mother Dionecia, had taken his born-again experience seriously, spending his time mostly in Bible studies and other related activities.
After resolving his contractual issues with American promoter Bob Arum the previous year, a more focused Donaire opened his busy year with a split decision win over Mexican Wilfrido Velasquez Jr. on Feb. 4 in San Antonio Texas, capturing the vacant World Boxing Organization super bantamweight crown.
Six days later in Ma del Plata, Argentina, Johnriel Casimero, a protégé of veteran promoter Sammy Gello-ani, was nearly lynched by an angry mob after wresting the International Boxing Federation light flyweight title via a 10th-round TKO of hometown bet Luis Alberto Lazarte.
While Casimero and Gello-ani barely escaped with their lives, the incident became the subject of a privilege speech delivered by Sen. Tito Sotto, who played video footages of the post-bout melee during his speech. Sotto called the case a “black eye” in Argentine-Philippine relations and demanded that the Philippine ambassador to the South American country be recalled while the Games and Amusements Board sought sanctions for the Argentine Boxing Commission and Lazarte.
Lazarte was eventually banned for life after an IBF investigation pinned the blame on the Argentine boxer for sparking the riot.
On the very first day of March, Pacquiao, a Sarangani congressman who switched from the Liberal Party to the United Alliance banner led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, found himself in hot water with the Bureau of International Revenue. A complaint was filed against the lawmaker for allegedly failing to disclose all his income sources, resulting in unpaid taxes, an accusation that Pacquiao claimed was nothing more than simple harassment.
After toiling in obscurity and several failed attempts at a world title, Ilonggo pride Sonny Boy Jaro pulled off a surprise on March 2 with a stunning upset of veteran Thai boxer Pongsalek Wongjongkam in Chonburi, Thailand. Fighting the fight of his life, Jaro captured the World Boxing Council flyweight belt with a sensational sixth-round technical knockout win against a foe then ranked No. 8 among the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world.
In a sport notorious for its scandals, scams and controversies, the reputable Cebu-based Antonio L. Aldeguer boxing promotions was dragged into one when a Mexican boxing agent sent the wrong “Genaro Garcia” to fight Ray “Boom Boom” Bautista, ruining a huge fight card set on March 2 in Bohol.
Filipina-American fighter Ana “The Hurricane” Julaton failed to live up to her moniker on March 16, losing her World Boxing Organization super bantamweight championship to feisty hometown lass Yessica Patricia Marcos by unanimous decision in Mendoza, Argentina.
On March 24, veteran boxer Rodel Mayol, based in the US, withdrew his challenge against World Boxing Association flyweight defending champion Hernan Marquez, claiming the Mexican title-holder cheated at the scales.
A bit of good news capped March when super bantamweight fighter Larry Canillas was released from the hospital on March 27 after recovering from brain surgery due to a head injury he got during a sparring session. But April saw another local pug dying on April 29 when amateur boxer Romnick Dablo passed away after a bout in Iba, Zambales.
The festive month of May saw triumphs and defeats by Pinoy boxers both locally and overseas.
Jonathan Taconing kicked off the month on May 3 with a setback, suffering a fifth-round TKO defeat to WBC light-flyweight champion Kompayak Pompramook in Buriram, Thailand.
At the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on May 5, Mindanao native Lorenzo Villanueva absorbed a second-round knockout loss to Indonesian Daud Cino Yordan, who captured the vacant International Boxing Organization featherweight championship.
But Brian Villoria brought back cheer to Filipino boxing fans when he retained his WBO flyweight title with an emphatic ninth-round TKO win over outclassed Mexican Omar Nino Romero on May 16 at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
On the amateur front, light-flyweight Josie Gabuco made her country proud on May 20 by winning the country’s first gold medal in the world women’s amateur boxing championships in Quinhangdao, China by outpointing local bet Xu Shiqui.
Donnie “Ahas” Nietes ushered in the month of June on a winning note by retaining his WBO light-flyweight crown with a well-earned unanimous decision victory over Mexican Felipe Salguero at the Resorts World in Pasay City on June 2.
BRADLEY STUNS PACQUIAO
Was this the beginning of Pacquiao’s decline?
Many ring pundits asked this question after the Pinoy ring idol narrowly lost by split decision to cocky American World Boxing Organization welterweight champ Timothy Bradley on June 9 despite apparently getting the better of the exchanges at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Exuding confidence, Bradley was so confident of beating Pacquiao that in the main press conference before the fight he showed up with a huge placard citing a Nov. 10 date for their rematch.
The defeat was the first loss for Pacman in seven years, snapping a 15-match winning streak since his defeat to Mexican Erik Morales by unanimous decision on March 19, 2005 at the MGM Grand.
Furious over the outcome, Arum, who promotes both boxers, said he would ask the Nevada attorney general to look into the judging of the controversial fight, all the while plotting the next bout for the Filipino, which, not surprisingly, didn’t involve Bradley.
Another unheralded boxer, Davao native Emerlito “Jog” Alim Jr., lost his life on June 21 two days after successfully retaining his Mindanao Professional Boxing Association featherweight crown with a decision win over Al Grumo in Rosario, Agusan del Sur.
Donaire chalked up his second straight win of the year on July 7 (July 8 in Manila) by fashioning a hard-earned unanimous decision over South African Jeffrey Mathebula in Carson City, California, unifying the WBO and International Boxing Federation super bantamweight belts.
Virtually the same day halfway around the globe, Sylvester Lopez was frustrated in his attempt to wrest the World Boxing Council super flyweight title from Japanese defending champion Yota Sato, who kept his crown with a unanimous decision victory in the seaport city of Yokohama, Japan.
Barely a week later on July 16, Sonny Jaro was also victimized by a Japanese in the Land of the Rising Sun, yielding his WBC flyweight title by split decision to Toshiyuki Igarashi in Saitama. In the undercard, Michael Farinas battled WBA super featherweight champ Takashi Uchiyama to a technical draw.
Before the month ended, the IBF recognized Johnriel Casimero as the regular junior flyweight champion.
The Olympic month of August saw the short-lived stint in the London Games by lone boxing hopeful Mark Anthony Barriga, who failed to go beyond the second round after losing by a hairline 16-17 to Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov.
In his first title defense, Casimero bucked the hometown crowd and kept his IBF light flyweight title by knocking down Pedro Guevarra in the opening round en route to a split decision triumph in Mazatlan, Mexico on Aug. 5.
Pacquiao, the lawmaker, filed a bill on Aug. 17 calling for the creation of a Philippine Boxing Commission, a body independent of the Games and Amusements Board, to help local pro boxers. Sen. Koko Pimentel supported his planned law.
September proved to be a bad month for Pinoy pug, three of them losing in separate title matches all over the globe.
Roli Gasca was the first to fall in a 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Russian Alexander Bakhtin for the vacant IBO super bantamweight championship on Sept. 18 in Moscow. Rodel Mayol also suffered the same fate on Sept. 22, going down in defeat to reigning IBF super flyweight champion Juan Carlos Sanchez, who stopped the Filipino in the ninth round in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico.
Fighting in a different time zone but on the same date, Florante Condes likewise lost to Heike Budler in their clash for the IBO minimum weight title in Kempton Park, South Africa.
On Sept. 25, Pacquiao dropped his defamation suit in the US against outspoken American boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who had accused the Filipino boxing icon of taking performance-enhancing drugs, paving the way for a possible megabuck fight.
Donaire sustained his sizzling winning run on Oct. 13 by retaining his WBO super bantamweight crown with a ninth-round TKO of Toshiaki NIshioka in Carson, California, although he was forced to give up his IBF belt.
At home, AJ Banal lost in a slugfest to tough and durable Thai fighter Pongluang Sorsingyu, who left the hometown favorite bruised and battered in a ninth-round TKO triumph on Oct. 20 in front of a stunned Filipino gallery at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Filipino boxers continued to suffer misfortune in South Africa, with Eric Dapuddong absorbing a split-decision loss to Gideon Buthelezi in their clash for the IBO super flyweight crown on Nov. 10.
On Nov. 17, Viloria’s stock continued to rise when he humbled Mexican Hernan “Tyson” Marquez and unified the WBO and WBA flyweight championships with a 10th-round TKO win at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California.
ANOTHER SHOCKING LOSS
Hogging the spotlight in the month of December was the twin ring extravaganza featuring Pacquiao-Marquez and Donaire-Arce.
After a rigorous four-month buildup and sporting an impressive physique, Marquez was ready and raring to get another crack and possible redemption against Pacquiao, who had vanquished the proud Mexican in a highly-controversial majority decision on Dec. 12, 2011, in their third fight. Even the Filipino boxing king seemed surprise by the result of that match against the consummate counter-puncher and vowed to settle the issue once and in their fourth meeting.
Unlike Marquez, however, Pacquiao trained for just two months for the fight as he continued his preaching, Bible studies, and sharing his faith that some branded as new “distractions” in his career.
Seven years of playing the foil to the Filipino finally ended that fateful night of Dec. 9 at the packed MGM Grand when Marquez threw the “perfect” right that knocked the daylights out of Pacquiao with a second to go in a no-holds-barred sixth round.
The Filipino hero fell face down on the canvas from that jarring right hand and was left unconscious for a few seconds while his distraught wife, Jinky, tried to approach him.
Marquez, dubbed “El Dinamita,” admitted after the fight that he could have been the boxer sprawled on the ring. He had a broken nose and the scars to show that he, too, had absorbed a lot of punishment during the action-packed bout.
Back in the Philippines, the defeat of the popular boxing star was treated like a day of national mourning by Filipinos who had hoped he would post a big victory to uplift the morale of countrymen reeling from the damage wrought by super Typhoon Pablo, which had ravaged Mindanao and the Visayas. Even Mommy Dionecia got into the act, saying her son lost because he had “abandoned” his Catholic faith.
Despite the loss, Pacquiao remained grateful he did not suffer any brain damage from the Mexican’s explosive blow and returned home a hero in the eyes of his adoring fans, telling them he “would rise again.”
Ever the impresario, Arum said he would have his favorite fighter have a complete brain scan while pitching for a possible fifth match with Marquez, who had to fend off allegations he had used steroids to bulk up.
Reveling in his new status and with the Pacman monkey off his back, the battle-scarred Mexican boxer said he would carefully consider another rematch but would first enjoy the fruits of his labor with a well-deserved vacation in his country.
What Pacquiao failed to deliver, Donaire did with aplomb a week later.
Inspired by an entire nation pining for a win, the “Flash” blitzed Arce in the opening two rounds before knocking the Mexican out, coincidentally, with one second left in the third round, completing an immaculate 4-0 record in 2012.
As expected, the victory was greeted with elation back in the Philippines, with the 30-year-old Donaire, who has openly made it known he wants to follow Pacquiao’s footsteps, finally emerging from the shadows of his better-known compatriot.
The accolades kept on coming for Donaire, with ESPN awarding him Boxer of the Year honors and branding his stoppage of Arce as the American sports network’s Knockout of the Year.
On the other hand, the Pacquiao-Marquez brawl was named as the Fight of the Year.
After playing second fiddle to Pacquiao for so long, Donaire had finally come into his own, emerging as the top attraction in the Philippine boxing firmament in 2012.