MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos figured in only 16 world title fights in 2017, winning seven and losing nine in a drop from an 8-4 count the previous year but the silver lining is four are ranked No. 1 with a mandatory championship shot in the horizon and seven are No. 2 contenders as the year ended.
The downside is as 2017 came to a close, only two Filipinos reigned as world champions – IBF flyweight ruler Donnie Nietes and IBF superflyweight king Jerwin Ancajas. ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer said the other day that Nietes’ next fight will likely be in February but nothing is set in stone as details will still be finalized. Nietes, 35, hasn’t fought since claiming the vacant IBF 112-pound diadem via a 12-round decision over Thailand’s Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking in Cebu last July. He is tipped to make a mandatory defense against No. 1 contender Juan Carlos Reveco of Argentina.
Ancajas, 26, will stake his crown against Mexico’s Israel Gonzalez in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Feb. 3. It will be his fourth defense and first under Top Rank. The fight will mark Ancajas’ debut on US soil. On Jan. 27, No. 14 contender Mercito Gesta takes on WBA lightweight titleholder Jorge Linares at the Forum in Inglewood, California, and will attempt to join Nietes and Ancajas as Filipino world champions.
When 2015 and 2016 ended, there were four Filipino world champions. In 2016, Filipinos who won in world title fights were Manny Pacquiao, Marlon Tapales, Johnriel Casimero twice, Nonito Donaire, Jr., Ancajas, Nietes and Milan Melindo. In 2017, the winners were Melindo twice, Nietes, Ancajas thrice and Tapales. The quirk was Tapales’ victory over Shoshei Omori on an 11th round knockout came after he lost the WBO bantamweight crown on the scales. If Omori won, he would’ve been the new champion but since Tapales prevailed, the throne was declared vacant.
Filipinos fought in at least one world title bout in every major governing body last year. Six of the seven wins were in IBF fights as Melindo knocked out Japan’s Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo last May and beat South Africa’s Hekkie Budler on a split decision in Cebu last September, Nietes outpointed Eaktwan and Ancajas halted Mexico’s Jose Alfredo Rodriguez in Macau last January, Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita in Brisbane last July and Ireland’s Jamie Conlan in Belfast last November. The seventh win was Tapales’ disposal of Omori in Osaka last April. The IBF title loss came in Melindo’s foiled bid to unify the lightflyweight crown against WBA champion Ryoichi Taguchi in Tokyo last Sunday.
Four Filipinos lost in IBO title fights, all in South Africa. Last February, Joey Canoy surrendered at the start of the eighth round to Budler for the vacant IBO lightflyweight title. In April, Moruti Mthalane halted Genisis Libranza in the fourth round to retain his IBO flyweight crown. In June, Simphiwe Khonco defeated Lito Dante on a 12-round unanimous decision to keep his IBO minimumweight belt. And in July, Ryan Rey Ponteros lost on points in a bid to dethrone IBO superflyweight king Gideon Buthelezi.
In the WBA, former IBO lightflyweight champion Rey Loreto was outpointed by Thailand’s Thammanoon Niyomtrong in a minimumweight title fight in Chonburi last July. Loreto was decked in the ninth round. In the WBC, minimumweight titlist Wanheng Menayothin of Thailand defeated Melvin Jerusalem on points last January.
In the WBO, Tapales scored the empty win in a bantamweight title fight but couldn’t claim the belt because he had previously been stripped for failing to make the 118-pound limit. Two WBO losers were Genesis Servania who was decisioned by featherweight king Oscar Valdez of Mexico in Tucson last September and Pacquiao who yielded the welterweight throne to Jeff Horn in Brisbane last July. Valdez was floored in the fourth and Servania in the fifth during their fiercely-contested encounter.
The four No. 1 contenders are IBF superflyweight Jonas Sultan, IBO welterweight Pacquiao, IBO superbantamweight Tapales and WBO minimumweight Robert Paradero. The No. 2 contenders are welterweight Pacquiao, featherweight Mark Magsayo, superflyweight Aston Palicte, lightflyweight Jonathan Taconing and minimumweight Vic Saludar of the WBO, WBA flyweight Brian Viloria and WBC lightflyweight Taconing.
The Philippine Star
Updated January 4, 2018 – 12:00am
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