Despite Ups and Downs, Philippine Prospects Look Good at 118-126 Lbs Weight Classes
Despite near the year end losses suffered by some of its top fighters in the bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight divisions, the prospects remains bright for Philippine boxing in those divisions in 2020.
Just this New Year’s Eve, Jhunriel Ramonal captured the vacant WBO Asia Pacific junior bantamweight championship by crushing first round knockout of world rated Yusaku Kuga in Tokyo, Japan. It was a rousing follow up to his revenge knockout victory last October over Shingo Wake, then also a world rated contender in the 122 lbs. division.
With his latest victory, Ramonal who will surely break into the world rankings again ended our roller coaster campaign in the 118-126 lbs divisions on a winning note.
It could be recalled that last November 7, Nonito Donaire lost his WBA bantamweight super title in a magnificent defeat to heavy favorite Naoya “The Monster” Inoue in their much awaited and followed World Boxing Super Series bantamweight finals in Saitama, Japan. Inoue not only annexed the WBA super title but kept his IBF and Ring Magazine belts aside from winning the prestigious WBSS Muhammad Ali trophy symbolic of supremacy in the division.
But the victory came at a heavy physical toll on Inoue as he suffered a broken right orbital bone, a broken nose and other minor facial as well as body injuries that will take months to heal.
Significantly, the decidedly underdog Donaire loomed even larger despite the loss prompting the WBC to designated him as number one contender and mandatory challenger to its champion Nordine Oubali of France.
Filipino Michael Dasmarinas remains the mandatory challenger to the IBF crown held by Inoue following his victory over countryman Kenny Demecillo last October.
Before November was through, another underdog Filipino fighter Johnriel Casimero more than made up for that Donaire defeat when he knocked out the highly touted South African Zolani Tete in the third round to win the WBO bantamweight title in Birmingham, UK
Heading towards that fight, Tete was the overwhelming favorite to defeat Casimero who was then just the interim belt holder. But Casimero laid to waste the odds and Tete’s height and reach advantages as well as his reputation as a dreaded knockout artist when he exploded with a neatly placed temple shot that fell the South African champion and decided the fight right there and then.
Two other Filipino bantamweights boosted their standing with impressive victories namely former WBA interim champion Reymart Gaballo who stopped Thailand’s former WBC youth titlist Chaiwat Buatkrathok and Carl Jammes Martin who defended his Philippine Boxing Federation title by TKO over Philip Luis Cuerdo in separate bouts held in Metro Manila over the past weekends.
The following weekend however, former WBO bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales failed in his bid to win the interim IBF super bantamweight title, losing by 11th round TKO to ex champion Ryosuke Iwasa in their bout held in Barclay Center in New York.
Tapales was more than competitive in that bout despite the incompetence of the referee who credited Iwasa with a knockdown in the third after Tapales was felled by a clear headbutt and allowed the Japanese to continously push the Filipino away in close quarter fighting.
Iwasa managed to clearly knock Tapales down in the 11th with his main weapon, powerful left. Tapales took his time to get up and he did beat the referee count. But surprisingly, the referee waved the fight off even as Tapales was already on his feet.
It will appear that the IBF itself was not convinced of the result as Tapales remains the highest ranked contender in its latest rating with Iwasa as interim titlist and American Daniel Roman as regular champion.
Last weekend, Mike Plania won the vacant IBF North America Continental super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over erstwhile undefeated Giovanni Gutierrez in Miami, Florida. With the win, Plania who was formerly rated in the bantamweight might barge into the world ratings in the super bantamweight division.
Last December 21, former WBA featherweight titleholder Jhack Tepora lost by a shock first round body punch knockout to former world titlist Oscar Escandon in their main event featherweight match held in Ontario, California.
It was only his first pro defeat but it may cost him his lofty world ranking. Being young, he may still recover from the shock upset defeat.
However, Albert Pagara and Mark Magsayo remain highly rated in the division with Pagara holding the number one contender slot in the WBO.
Our prospects and chances in these new Filipino niche weight divisions are certainly looking very good entering the new year.