(Photo courtesy of PhilBoxing.com)
North Cotabato’s Braveheart Boxers really showed Cebu fight fans what our boxers here are made of.
The Braveheart boys rocked Cebu Coliseum in last Saturday’s “Battle of the Bantamweights” and wowed Cebu boxing fans. Cebu sportswriters are all praises for our boys, products of North Cotabato’s “Paboksing Para Sa Masa” program started by then Governor now Vice Governor Manny Piñol.
Vice Gov. Manny has reason to be elated. Eight of the Braveheart boys who fought in Cebu won. More than that, Rolando Magbanua of Pigcawayan now holds the World Boxing Organization Oriental bantamweight champion’s belt, and Jundy Maraon who is from Molave in Zamboanga del Sur but is now based in Kidapawan City is now the new WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight champion.
Vice Gov. Manny had this to say in his article in The Pinoy Boxers Portal.
OH, YES! THERE WILL STILL BE LIFE AND EXCITEMENT
IN PHILIPPINE BOXING AFTER GERRY, MANNY AND NONITO
By Manny Piñol
On a night when World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight champion Gerry Peñalosa fought before Cebu boxing fans for the last time, three young bantamweights from the Southern Philippine Island of Mindanao proved to Filipino boxing fans that there will still be hope and excitement in the sport even after the great champions today will hang their gloves.
Cebu boxing fans who came to watch Peñalosa’s tune up bout against Mexican German Meraz prior to his April 24 fight against Puerto Rican Juan Manuel Lopez for the latter’s WBO superbantamweight belt, were obviously pleasantly surprised that the so-called Boys from the South could make them cheer, stomp their feet and clap their hands.
One after the other, bantamweights Glenn “The Rock” Porras, Jundy “Pretty Boy” Maraon and Rolando “Smooth Operator” Magbanua thrashed their opponents in different fashions and successfully gained entry into the consciousness and the hearts of Filipino boxing fans.
Porras, 23, the gentle farm boy from Luz Village, M’lang, North Cotabato who joined the provincial amateur boxing team at 14, displayed spectacular body punching, tremendous power and a lot of heart as he took a few good shots from lanky Thai fighter Daothon Sithsoey before finally putting down his opponent twice in the first round of a 10-round non-title bout.
Porras, a southpaw, who is handled by Braveheart Boxing Club chief trainer Noli Piñol, my younger brother, along with assistant trainer Bruce Lerio and assisted by Nonito Donaire Sr., improved his record to 21 wins, 3 losses with 15 KOs.
Maraon, who turns 24 this week, a village chief’s son from Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, showed his tremendous punching power and ability to absorb a good shot as he stood toe to toe with WBO Asia Pacific defending champion Jason Egera before unleashing a deadly and picture perfect left cross that knocked out the champion even before he could hit the canvas.
The punch was so powerful that Egera had to be revived, placed in a stretcher and brought to the dressing room where he recovered after several minutes. The 5′ 6″ tall Maraon, also a southpaw like Porras, improved his record to 13 wins, 1 draw and 10 KOs and is now the new WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight champion. He is now handled by Nonito Donaire Sr., with Noli, Bruce Lerio, Joy Angcog and Rex Peñalosa assisting him.
Magbanua, also 23, the right-handed fighter from the frontier town of Pigcawayan, North Cotabato, showed boxing fans why he is called “The Smooth Operator.” For five straight rounds up until Mexican Jose Angel Cota’s corner waved the white towel, Magbanua displayed exceptional ring-cutting skills as he stood right in front of Cota unleashing crisp combinations that practically shredded the Mexican’s face.
Even with his sharp eyes Magbanua took several good shots from the game Mexican but showed he could carry a punch while at the same exhibiting fluid movements as he peppered Cota with short but powerful punches that ended the fight in the 6th round.
Magbanua, who is handled by Noli Piñol and assisted by Nonito Sr., now has a record of 14 wins, 0 loss, with 9 KOs.
Five other boys from Mindanao scored spectacular victories in their first big exposure in Cebu City with only Glenn “Rapid Fire” Gonzales suffering the lone loss for the Boys from the South. Glenn who was making his first outing as a junior lightweight was tagged with a powerful uppercut as he was coming in for the kill in the 2nd round and was never able to recover.
Knocked down twice (the second was not officially declared by the referee but it was a clear knockdown), Glenn lost by unanimous to an unknown but powerful puncher from Manila.
But other than the big letdown in Glenn Gonzales’ fight, Richard “Lion Heart” Betos of Barobo, Surigao del Sur showed why he is called such as he recovered from a near knock down in the first round to stop his foe in the 6th.
Undefeated Lorenzo “Thunderbolt” Villanueva, 22, displaying raw talent and a big heart, scored his 13th knock out win in as many professional fights stopping his opponent Joy Pol, who was three pounds heavier. Still awkward in delivering his punches, the 5′ 7″ tall fighter from Midsayap, North Cotabato showed a lot of power that could make him a big star in the featherweight division in the coming years.
Diminutive Rommel “Little Assassin” Asenjo, 19, also provided a lot of excitement as he punished his opponent with tremendous body shots while at the same time taking several good shots to the head himself. Cebu boxing fans applauded Asenjo after every round as the young boy from Pigcawayan, North Cotabato showed the exceptional big heart that Braveheart boxers have in abundance.
Completing the 8 wins, 1 loss card by the Braveheart Boxers were the unanimous decision victories of Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong and Jermie “The Worm” Jabel.
Judging by the reaction of the fans that packed the historic Cebu Coliseum, the Boys from the South succeeded in entertaining the discriminating boxing fans of Cebu and perhaps the millions more who watched the fights on ABS CBN, Studio 23 and The Filipino Channel which is beamed internationally.
The Battle of the Best Bantamweights achieved what it aimed for: prove to boxing fans that there is life and excitement in Philippine boxing after Gerry Peñalosa, Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, Jr.