Manny Pacquiao remained the biggest newsmaker in Philippine boxing but 2013 did not exactly start and end well for the sports icon.
During the first week of January 2013, a radio interview involving a Filipino doctor who made a concerned comment about Pacquiao showing signs of Parkinson’s ignited controversy.
Pacquiao brushed off that statement saying that he has passed every diagnostic test requested by physicians in the United States.
Pacquiao would go on to secure reelection for the lone congressional seat in Sarangani in May with his wife Jinkee winning as Vice Governor. The month of November saw him make his return to the ring in Macau, 11 months after he got knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas. And the Filipino icon proved that he still has a lot of fight left in him.
Against the backdrop of the Philippines reeling from back-to-back natural disasters, Pacquiao pummeled Brandon Rios in 12 one-sided rounds giving his countrymen a much-needed reason to cheer.
But a couple of days after his victory, Pacman found himself in a corner being battered by the Taxman with the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA) issuing an order to freeze Pacquiao’s bank deposits over a P2.2 billion tax case. Two weeks later, reports came out alleging that Pacquiao owed the IRS in the US more than 18 million dollars in taxes. His tax troubles however, did not prevent him from visiting and helping the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda in Eastern Visayas.
By the first week of December, the 35-year-old Pacquiao was named the top contender by the WBC for Floyd Mayweather’s title but the American was quoted as saying that he would rather give up his belt than fight Pacquiao.
CEBU BOXING LEADS
It is no surprise that three world boxing champions are based and training here in the island of Cebu.
The ALA gym added another world titleholder to their star-studded roster last March when Merlito ‘Tiger’ Sabillo traveled to Colombia and stopped Luis dela Rosa in eight rounds. The fight was initially for the interim version of the WBO minimumweight title but the WBO recognized Sabillo as the regular world champion a month later.
Sabillo would defend his title twice in Metro Manila – knocking out Colombian Jorle Estrada in nine at the Solaire Resort and Casino and holding Nicaraguan Carlos Buitrago to a split draw at the Araneta Coliseum.
The ALA gym’s long-reigning world titlist, Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes, also defended his WBO world light flyweight title twice last year – in March when he scored a majority draw against erstwhile WBO minimumweight champion Moises Fuentes of Mexico at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel with Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in attendance, and last Nov. 30 when he stopped Mexican challenger, Sammy Gutierrez in the third round.
Nietes, who was the WBO minimumweight champ from 2007-2011, is nearing the record seven year title reign of the late world junior lightweight champion Gabriel “Flash” Elorde.
Johnriel Casimero of the Omega Boxing Gym held on to his IBF world light flyweight crown last March in Panama by unanimous decision against hometown boy Luis Alberto Rios. Seven months later he defended his title in Makati City by stopping Mexican Felipe Salguero in 11 rounds.
The only other Filipino fighter to capture a world title this year is Edrin Dapudong of North Cotabato, who knocked out Gideon Buthelezi of South Africa in one round to win the IBO super flyweight title in Johannesburg.
HISTORY IN CEBU
In August, two unbeaten foreign boxers headlined a historic fight card at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Tomoki Kameda of Japan dethroned Paulus Ambunda of Namibia by unanimous decision for the WBO bantamweight title and set a record for being the third Kameda brother to win a world title belt.
Team Mandaue City captured two gold medals during the PLDT-ABAP National Boxing Championships in Maasin City. Hipolito Banal, Jr. clinched the boys light flyweight championship while Jeffrey Estella won the gold in the boys’ pinweight division.
UPS AND DOWNS
April was a forgettable month for Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria, who lost their world title belts.
Donaire lost to Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux in their WBO/WBA superbantamweight unification bout in New York while Viloria lost his WBA and WBO flyweight titles when he was dethroned by Juan Francisco Estrada of Mexico in Macau.
Donaire however, bounced back seven months later with a come-from-behind TKO win in the 9th round against old foe Vic Darchinyan of Australia in Texas.
The likes of Milan Melindo, Denver Cuello, John Mark Apolinario and Vergilio Silvano lost in their bids to win world titles for our country.