On an almost windless and humid Saturday night at the Sucat People’s Park in Muntinlupa, a lean and lanky boxer was helped by air from an oxygen tank.
Bantamweight contender Ryan Origenes was knocked out at 2:39 of Round 6 of a Philippine Boxing Federation super bantamweight title battle against Danilo Peña. Peña is a relentless though unpolished former Philippine champion who packs a mean wallop in a fighting form that gave him his “Pit Bull” sobriquet. Origenes was aware of all that in the five rounds that Peña pummeled him with wicked body and head punches.
There were cheers for Peña of course but these were quickly replaced by hushed tones as GAB physician Mae Bañes attended to Origenes. The crowd of about 2,500 in the open air venue was anxious to find out when Origenes would get up while the boxing regulars from the GAB and the different stables were wondering if another Karl Maquinto was about to haunt local boxing anew. Maquinto was a young and promising boxer who died because of a blood clot after a fight at Caloocan City, January this year. As expected, the calls for stricter prefight health checkups and more emergency medical facilities were sounded.
But Dr. Bañes was in command of the situation, making sure that Origenes was not moved until he had control of his faculties. The oxygen tank was used even if Origenes was already opening his eyes. After some tense waiting, Origenes was helped out of the ring, not needing a stretcher and managing to sit up on a chair a few meters from the battle scene.
Origenes was still visibly stunned from the haymaker but was already breathing easier, even if the oxygen mask was still not removed. Bañes explained that it was important that boxers who had been floored so violently to get their normal breathing back as quickly as possible and for blood to circulate effortlessly.
Later, Dr. Bañes attended to Ricky Sabia who had been decked by Michael Escobia in the next bout. In the second round, Sabia spun after a barrage by Escobia and was then nailed with a right that sent him to the mat.
Veteran international referee Ferdinand Estrella who was the third man in the ring recounted: “Bibilangan ko pa sana, nasa 1… 2… na ako pagkabagsak.Pero nakita ko hindi na kaya ni Sabia (I was still going for a count and was at “one… two…” after he fell. But I saw that Sabia had had enough). Sabia was up and about quickly after Bañes cleared him to stand up from his corner stool.
Then, in the main event, Bañes also had to make the call to stop the PBF mini-flyweight title bout between Joan Imperial and Jetly Purisima. Purisima suffered a nasty cut above his right eyebrow after an accidental clash of noggins in the second round. “Ang lalim po (It was a deep cut, sir),” Bañes revealed, prompting one GAB official to compare the cut to a sharp knife’s stab. The fight was a technical draw with no need to count the scores since it ended before the fourth round.
Because of its inherent violence, measures must continue to be taken to ensure the safety of boxers. Alert decision making by the referees and Dr.Bañes that night in Muntinlupa may have abbreviated a fistic fiesta but surely extended the careers of the boxers. Maquinto’s legacy is clearly to remind all to preserve boxing as a sport and a source of livelihood by protecting those who battle in the ring.