HE was no tiger out there at Solaire on Saturday, but Merlito Sabillo nevertheless got the job done to put the popular Pinoy Pride (prizefight parade) back kicking on the road.
Peddled off as a ring tiger, the 29-year-old Sabillo was an indecisive gym rat as he started out cautiously, displaying nifty footwork, well-timed simple punches.
No tiger in his tank, neither was there a streak of the menacing street fighter he had been touted to be.
This, of course, could be blamed on the overly evasive style of the frail and pale challenger from Colombia.
A drumbeat left hook to the rib cage liver area, maybe perfected while fighting bare knuckle in the cruel streets of Bacolod, ended the bout.
The challenger, writhing on the floor, was counted out after having spat out his mouthpiece.
Sabillo thus retained his WBO miminumweight crown, which he had assumed also by knockout.
He is now 23-0 with 12 knockouts.
There was audible applause from the dressy, well-heeled audience at ringside.
But if the exclusive crowd felt it got its money’s worth, Sabillo himself had to immediately explain he failed to dish out his best because the foe spent most of the time running away.
The inept Colombian also appeared content pushing in petty punches.
Sabillo could’ve indeed done a lot better given a more competent, combative opponent.
True enough, later on Sunday, after the televised replay, there were also cries of displeasure from several prizefight pundits.
The bout was described as dull, one-sided.
Maybe the promoters behind Pinoy Pride had honestly expected a tougher test for Sabillo, one that could result in a sensational contest fit for the gala occasion.
If the challenger, who had bragged he would stop Sabillo in seven rounds, ended up overly accommodating, the promoters, led by ALA Stable patriarch Tony Aldeguer, have all the reason to be overjoyed.
The Sabillo triumph should provide a win-win turning point for Pinoy Pride, whose parade of stellar fighters got stalled with the back-to-back fall of two of ALA Stable’s top products, namely AJ Banal (in a title fight last October) and later Boom Boom Bautista.
It took an obscure former street fighter to send Pinoy Pride back on the road.
But after Pinoy Pride big boss Michael Aldeguer has declared Sabillo export quality and ready for the world, they should also make sure he gets honest-to-goodness competition, one that should help put Pinoy Pride back into full orbit.
GOODBYE, BROTHER: It was with both shock and grief that we received the news about the passing of Ramon “Moy” Lainez, a gentleman of the first order and brother to everybody who honestly cared about the Filipino boxer. Moy, who helped quietly chart the career of the young Manny Pacquiao, together with Lito Mondejar and the late Rod Nazario, was an original prizefight idol, competent and caring with his deft, deliberate ringside insights and commentaries starting in the ’60s when bouts were still being beamed on black-and-white TV. Thank you for everything, sir.