Boxing pitches inBy Sev Sarmenta
Philippine Daily Inquirer
BOXING, for all its inherent violence and controversies, can be called on to help those in need and boost spirits in the aftermath of a natural calamity.
Last Friday, the city of Biñan, Laguna staged Punch for a Cause, a 60-round fight card with three Philippine Boxing Federation title bouts. Spearheaded by Mayor Len Alonte-Naguiat, the fight night gathered different boxing promoters and local sponsors to chip in for those affected by the floods on the second week of August.
Biñan was one of several Laguna towns hit by the unrelenting rains that caused the waters to rise.
The promotion was already calendared months before because you really don’t just gather boxers together for a quick fund-raising event. A boxing card can’t just be a sparring session because it won’t bring out the best from the combatants.
This is unlike, say, a benefit basketball game which has no weight considerations and willing and able players can easily organize a battle between sides. Boxers need to be told way ahead that they will fight so that they can make required weights and prepare for the physical and mental challenges inside the ring.
The fight card was eventually transformed into the sport’s contribution to the affected community. The weekly boxing show In This Corner, led by its president Rommel Nazario, also made a contribution and would showcase the bouts in its 7 p.m. Sunday slot on PTV over several weekends.
The bouts took on a festive feel as about 1,500 Biñan residents filled in every available space. Some even climbed the supports of the town center that is primarily a covered basketball court. Residents did not mind the humidity of the venue, a welcome departure perhaps from being soaked and besieged by the floods a week before.
The boxers’ contribution were their performances. Boxing analyst Moy Laiñez anticipated that the boxers might be sluggish because the rains and floods affected training schedules. The boxers gave what they had nonetheless and Biñan residents relished the fistic bonanza.
Jaymart Toyco defended his flyweight title with a unanimous win over No. 5 contender Ricky Oyan. In the superflyweight championship, Michael Escobia survived a first round knockdown to eke out a technical split decision over Rex Tito.
Tito uncorked a crunching right uppercut to floor Escobia but ended up with a nasty cut across the bridge of his nose forcing the early end of the fight in the sixth round. Escobia recovered enough to earn the nod of two of the three judges.
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