Tungod, Inabanga, Bohol – Sooner or later, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is going to ride into the sunset. This will definitely leave a large hole to fill for his would-be successors… an even greater loss to the sport as a whole. Philippine boxing will be caught in a situation where it needs to produce someone who could at least bridge the gap and carry the torch for the Filipino boxing fans if and when Pacquiao decides to hang up his gloves. One intriguing question therefore remains. To whom will the “PacMan” pass the torch? Hereunder is a list of Pinoy combatants who will be tasked to keep the torch of Philippine boxing burning when the inevitable comes.
Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, Jr. (24-1-0, 16 KOs) – Arguably one of the most intelligent fighters of this era and now on his absolute prime, Donaire can beat his opponents in so many ways. This heavy-handed ring general out of Talibon, Bohol and General Santos City in Mindanao possesses the ability to adjust midway through the fight and carve out a gameplan to eliminate whatever advantages his opponent may have over him. Sometimes nicknamed “The Avoided One”, Donaire is currently having trouble securing a bout against any of the big names in the super flyweight division. Nobody in his current division seems to want a piece of him. Moving north and seeking for better challenges are probably the direction he’s heading.
AJ “Bazooka” Banal (22-1-1, 18 KOs) – This proud Corella, Bohol and Ermita, Cebu City native has been fighting fierce competition since he was a teenager. His solitary loss came at the hands of a fighter he was supposed to beat. It was a fight that can be blamed more on the corner than on the fighter, if you know what I’m saying. Banal has had a vast amateur background. He bagged the gold medal of the 2000 edition of the Philippine National Games, when he was barely eleven years old. Two years later, AJ repeated that feat, while also winning numerous amateur boxing tournaments in various parts of the Philippine archipelago. This kid has excellent footwork and sound fundamentals, with a variety of punches to boot. Expect him to be a world champion within the next 2 years.
Donnie “Ahas” Nietes (27-1-3, 15 KOs) – Slippery as a snake, Nietes is the lone world champion produced by ALA Boxing Gym, the country’s premier boxing stable, , thus far. He is a picture of grace and fluid motion, slipping through punches, effectively and masterfully eluding his opponent’s relentless barrage of power blows while connecting wicked hooks, straights and uppercuts of his own with remarkable precision. This minimum weight champion has successfully defended his belt four times – thrice on foreign soil. Nietes, a Bacolod City, Negros Occidental native, hopes to next defend his title in his hometown.
Drian “Golden Hands” Francisco (19-0-1, 15 KOs) – An awkward stance, but with wicked hands isn’t something to worry about these days. Manny Pacquiao, the man himself, should be enough proof of it. Francisco’s strongest asset might be his devastating fists and a solid chin to come along with it. Francisco is coming off back-to-back knockout victories against tough fighters Roberto Vasquez and Ricardo Nunez. This guy is a diamond in the rough and could very well follow the Pacquiao footsteps with the existing pugilistic assets that he possesses, and with proper guidance of course.
Milan “Piston Punch” Melindo (21-0-0, 6 KOs)– This two-time Philippine National Games gold medallist might not pack the punch that puts the lights out of opponents, but his graceful and slick boxing style is definitely a beauty to behold. Many observers have described this twenty-two-year-old boxing phenom as an outstanding ring tactician who exudes ring generalship like a grizzled veteran. He can literally dominate his foe with just one hand, without even unleashing his killer fist. Accuracy, precision, and efficiency are this Cagayan De Oro native’s forte. Currently sporting an immaculate record, Melindo is set to trade mitts against OPBF #4 – ranked fighter and Korean Flyweight Champion Jin-Man Jeon (13-3-0, 3 KOs) of Korea, as part of the “Philippines Vs The World” fight card on 28th of this month.
Rey “Boomboom” Bautista (28-2-0, 21 KO) – His two losses have put a major dent to his resume. Nevertheless, his knockout power as well as his vulnerability to be hurt are catalysts for excitement. Boxing fans, especially the blood-thirsty ones, crave for knockouts – something that is almost assured when Bautista fights. BoomBoom will test his mettle against a tough Mexican in Alejandro “Zorrito” Barrera (20-3-0, 13 KOs) on the same fight card mentioned above. It might be noted that Bautista’s two setbacks came at the hands of Mexicans Daniel Ponce De Leon and Eriberto Ruiz. Bautista needs to seize this opportunity to regain the respect he once had, which could bring his name back into the limelight.
Michael “Bruce Lee” Domingo (40-14-2, 18 KOs) – At quick glance, Domingo’s ring record isn’t really something to be excited about, especially if you haven’t seen any of his fights. He could very well be a case of a late-bloomer or perhaps about not giving up, coupled with finding the right people to manage his career. If you examine a bit closer, Domingo’s career was quite apparently a product of mismanagement. His former handlers, before ALA put him under their wing, apparently didn’t see the potential. They certainly didn’t see the talent and determination to succeed that he possessed all along. All but three of his losses were on foreign soil. Unfortunately for his last nine opponents, they didn’t expect it as well and fell prey to the mighty “Bruce Lee”. These nine opponents had a combined record of 246 wins, 46 losses, and 10 draws, which tells us about the very high level of competition. Last year, Domingo did what Christian Mijares, Dmitriy Kirilov, Gabriel Elizondo, Vernie Torres, Katsushige Kawashima, and Masamori Tokuyama were unable to do – knock Jose Navarro out! That alone speaks volumes of the very bright future that awaits this fighter from Lebak, Sultan Kudarat.
Many others are also worthy of mention. Feel free, my dear readers, to list some of the Pinoy pugs I might have inadvertently missed on the comments section.
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