April 1, 2023

Filipino Boxing Won’t Have A Champion This Year

5 min read

The professional boxing scene in the Philippines will complete the year without producing even a single major world champion for the first time in over twenty years.

During that time period, the Philippines finished each year with at least two or three major world boxing champions. This was made possible by the accomplishments of boxing greats Nonito Donaire, Donnie Nietes, Jerwin Ancajas, and Manny Pacquiao, who won championships in multiple weight classes over a combined total of nearly twenty years.

After beginning 2022 with three world titles, the country was left crownless when minimumweight Rene Cuarto, super flyweight Jerwin Ancajas, and featherweight Mark Magsayo each lost their valuable trinkets in defense bouts held outside of the country. Mark Magsayo was the last of the three to lose his title. Daniel Valledares, also of Mexico, was able to defeat Cuarto at the Mexican fighter’s hometown. Ancajas was knocked out in Las Vegas by an Argentine buzzsaw named Fernando Martinez, and Magsayo was unsuccessful in his first attempt to defend his WBC belt against another Mexican named Rey Vargas, also in Las Vegas.

There had also been title opportunities throughout the year, but unfortunately, we were not fortunate enough to capitalize on them. Comebacking Donnie Nietes was defeated by former victim Kazuto Ioka in their long-awaited rematch in Tokyo, and Ancajas was unable to regain his once long-held IBF title against Martinez in the United States. Both of these fights took place in Tokyo.

As a result, professional boxing in the Philippines will complete the year for the first time in a significant amount of time without a single major world champion, despite the fact that flyweight Dave Apolinario owns the “world title” of the obscure International Boxing Organization (IBO).

It is my hope that the year 2023 will bring about immediate chances and opportunities for Filipino boxers to win one or more global boxing crowns sanctioned by the so-called “Big 4”: the WBC, WBA, IBF, and the WBO.

Marlon Tapales, a former unbeaten WBO bantamweight champion, should have been the next mandatory challenger to Morudjon Akhmadaliev of Uzbekistan, who currently holds the unified WBA-IBF championship. Tapales competes in the super bantamweight division. However, Akhmadaliev has requested a medical leave or break owing to an injury sustained in a prior fight, which places Tapales’ ambition in an uncertain position for the future.

Tapales’s management is reportedly seeking sanction for a bout at the very least for the interim world championship in one of the Uzbek’s title against the next highest rated contender, who could be either Mexican Luis Nery or American Reese Aleem. This would make the wait more bearable for Tapales and would make his wait worthwhile.

At the time that this article is being written, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) has not yet decided whether Tapales will face a mandatory challenger or whether Akhmadaliev’s next defense will take priority.

In the meantime, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) has mandated that an elimination fight for the world title be held between two highly regarded boxers from the Philippines: Mark Vicelles and Regie Suganob. The winner of this fight will have the opportunity to challenge the newly crowned champion Sive Notshinga of South Africa.

Before the IBF’s deadline, a negotiated deal between the camps of the two Filipino boxers is anticipated to have been reached. As a result, we should be able to anticipate either Vicelles or Suganob competing for the regular title by the first quarter of the next year or, at the very latest, by April 2023.

Recent events in Japan saw the unification of the world belts held by the WBC and WBA. Kenshiro Teraji defeated fellow countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi to take both of the titles. Teraji is reportedly interested in unifying all belts at 108 pounds, and that could mean a confrontation with either Vicelles or Suganob should either of them win over Notshinga, which is not a given of course. Teraji wants to unify all belts at 108 pounds, and that could mean a confrontation with either Vicelles or Suganob.

Prospects still abound in boxing’s lowest weight class as former Filipino world titlists abound and are still rated by most sanctioning bodies as Rene Cuarto, Pedro Taduran, and Vic Saludar. However, current ratings show that the Japanese fighting siblings of Ginjiro and Yudai Shigeoka have passed them in the rankings, with the exception of Melvin Jerusalem. This is the case for all of the fighters in the Shigeoka family.

Jerusalem, who once competed for the world title at minimumweight, is currently the leading contender for the WBO title, which is currently held by Masataka Taniguchi of Japan. It is possible that Jerusalem’s camp will have an easier time persuading Taniguchi to defend his title against Melvin now that Jerusalem is the leading contender.

However, the memory of Taniguchi’s last loss against Saludar may still be vivid in their minds.

Since Giemel Magramo was recently defeated by Yuta Kurahara in his final fight for the OPBF Title, we do not have any immediate prospects for the flyweight division in the world title battle. The WBO crown, which he fought for and ultimately lost to Junto Nakatani in 2021, was recently vacated by Nakatani, who has moved up to super flyweight in the hopes of engaging in a future another all-Japanese world title fight against WBO titlist Kazuto Ioka. The fight for the WBO crown is scheduled to take place in 2022.

Dave Apolinario, the reigning champion of the IBO, is regarded highly, but not by the WBO. However, other major world champions at flyweight like as Sunny Edwards of the United Kingdom, Artem Dalakian of Russia, and Julio Cesar Martinez of Mexico appear to be formidable competitors. The outlook is not very bright for us at 112.

We still have Nietes, Ancajas, and Jade Bornea rated at super flyweight, but I don’t see any of them being a factor in the world title prospect that has opened up as a result of Jessie Bam Rodriguez vacating his WBC regular title to move down to flyweight. Most likely Nonito Donaire, if he makes the decision to drop his ranking even more to 115.

In spite of this, Donaire and probably Johnriel Casimero may choose to continue competing at bantamweight despite Monster Naoya Inoue’s intention to move up to 122 or super bantamweight/junior featherweight once he unifies all of the major belts at 118 pounds against UK’s WBO titlist Paul Butler this December. Inoue has announced his intention to make this move.

Donaire, Casimero, and possibly even Vincent Astrolabio, another Filipino who defeated the once-great Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux, will undoubtedly be in the running for any of the world titles that Naoya will leave behind if this scenario plays out.

Let us keep our fingers crossed that the majority of these take place the next year.

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