Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista entered the ring dreaming of another shot at the world title. When he left it late Saturday night, his regional belt was gone and his retirement seemed eminent.
Stunned by Mexican Jose Ramirez with a first-round knockdown, Bautista failed to bounce back and yielded his WBO International featherweight crown by split decision in the main event of Pinoy Pride XIX at the packed and sweaty University of Southeastern Philippines gym in Davao City.
A left hook followed by a solid right to the chin sent Bautista down shortly before the opening round ended, forcing him to counterpunch for the rest of the 12-round bout to the dismay of a noisy crowd of about 10,000 fans.
Edward Ligas surprisingly had Bautista the winner, 114-111, but fellow judges Salven Lagumbay and lawyer Danrex Tapdasan gave the aggressive Mexican the victory by similar 114-111 scores.
Ramirez was so well ahead that not even a one-point deduction slapped on him by Referee Bruce McTavish for a wayward elbow that left a bloody cut an inch from Bautista’s left ear in the 10th round could sway the outcome.
Throwing fewer punches and lacking head movement, Bautista proved susceptible to Ramirez’s body punches in a bid to force the Filipino to drop his guard on his vulnerable jaw.
The 26-year-old Bautista, whose challenge for the WBO bantamweight title ended via a first-round TKO to another Mexican, Juan Ponce de Leon, nearly six years ago thus became the third elite Filipino fighter to surrender their titles in a three-week span.
Two-division world titlist Brian Viloria lost his unified flyweight title by split decision to Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada in Macau on April 6, while 2012 Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire dropped his super bantam unification bout to Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux by unanimous decision in New York on April 13.
Last Dec. 8, eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao touched off what is now being regarded as a boxing jinx when he was knocked out by Mexican arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez in the sixth round in Las Vegas.
ALA Promotions president and CEO Michael Aldeguer and his father, Antonio, later said that Bautista, whose record dipped to 34-3 with 25 KOs, should now hang up his gloves.
The elder Aldeguer, longtime boxing patron and patriarch of the popular ALA Gym, told sportswriters that even if Bautista had knocked out Ramirez, who was tagged with a short right in the ninth round, he would still advise him to retire to avoid further harm.
If Bautista insists on fighting again, the elder Aldeguer said it wouldn’t be under his watch.
Ramirez, who won the respect of the crowd with his gutsy style despite the slippery canvas, improved to 25-3 with 15 KOs and lined himself for a world title eliminator within the year.
In the chief support, OPBF flyweight titlist Rocky Fuentes floored Mexican Juan Kantun twice en route to a 98-88 decision in all three scorecards in their 10-round non-title bout.
Fuentes, who improved to 35-6-2 with 20 KOs, also suffered a flash knockdown in the fourth round. Kantun’s record dipped to 20-4-3, 15 KOs.
Arthur Villanueva outclassed Marco Demecillo to retain his OPBF super flyweight crown by unanimous decision. Two judges rewarded Villanueva (21-0, 11 KOs) with 119-108 scores while the third saw it, 118-109.