THE LAST time a Filipino boxer was loudly peddled off as a “Tiger,” the poor fellow turned out to be a bird.
This was many years ago at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium off Leveriza in Manila.
It was a stormy but promising fight night. But once Tiger Ari of the Philippines was let loose inside the well-lit ring, he shrank into a beakless, biteless hawk. No, the well-hyped warrior was neither wet nor cold. He just turned instantly meek, fight-less after the referee signaled the fight on.
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On Saturday, Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo of the Philippines defends his WBO minimumweight (105 lb) crown against Jorle Estrada of Colombia. Fight venue is the celebrated Solaire Resort and Casino near Mall of Asia (MOA), which opens its doors for the first time to a major boxing promotion: Pinoy Pride XXI.
We have no clue what sort of champion the 29-year-old Sabillo, a native of Tobeso, Negros Occidental, happens to be. But going by his sterling 21-0 record, sportsman Antonio L. Aldeguer has all the right to invite the public to come running to Solaire, now a top gaming destination, for a night of great boxing theater.
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Aldeguer, well-loved, respected boxing patron from Cebu, did not say a single word about Sabillo, but based on the enthusiasm, the WBO 105-lb crown-holder would be there to revive the sagging spirits of the hometown fight audience.
The challenger, by the way, totes a so-so 17-6 win-loss record.
Estrada has, however, vowed to win via stoppage.
“Sabillo should be down and out by the seventh,” the challenger bragged through an interpreter Tuesday.
They weigh in tomorrow.
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By the way, AJ Banal, once a certified toy tiger with the ALA Stable, is fighting again after losing by ninth round knockout in his bid for the world bantamweight crown against a Thai invader at the Mall of Asia Arena last October.
Banal’s clash against Abraham “Cholo” Gomez of Mexico is a main undercard in Pinoy Pride XXI.
It was noted in a prefight teaser that Banal “is out to prove he still packs the punch.”
Truth is Banal, a terrific rat-tat-tat puncher, could end up with a fistic picnic considering that his foe would be checking in after losing successively by twin knockouts last year.
Gomez has a 19-7 win-loss card, including 11 knockouts. Banal is 28-2-1 with 20 KOs.
A quickie win by Banal, which is very possible, would not however bring him anyway nearer to where he should start all over again.
Banal must next be let loose against a certified banger, who should be able to recheck on AJ’s very doubtful durability.