Gilas and Azkals–peas in pod
Can we be honest for a moment? Our fancied national sports teams—Gilas and Azkals—are turning out to be certifiable duds on the world stage.
So why don’t we send them off to battle the hefty, quick and trey-shooting Europeans and the precision-kicking Arabs with roars of encouragement, instead of much fanfare and false hope to avoid a big letdown when disaster strikes?
What we should do perhaps to liven things up is by rooting and cheering for individual athletes with a chance to excel mano-a-mano with their foes instead.
After all, single-athlete exploits will provide the same thrill as we sit a bit drunk in a roomful of just us diehards while watching or streaming say a boxing match featuring one of our own.
That should be the case when Juan Miguel “Boss” Elorde, (28-1, 15 KOs) a scion of boxing blue bloods, tries to wrest the WBO super bantamweight belt from Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete of Mexico on Saturday (Sunday midmorning in Manila) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Their 12-round bout will support a battle between unbeaten heavyweights, top-rated Tyson Fury and Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin.
Navarrete (28-1, 24 KOs) says he will make the fight memorable on the occasion of the Mexican Independence Day weekend.
To close out his final stage of preparation, Navarrete boxed a couple of sparring rounds and showed his bulls-eye aim with accurate punches.
According to boxingscene.com, the 24-year-old Navarrete, who fought and won a month ago, is also “on weight, and will not be forced to take part in any rigorous diets and much less, sacrifice himself with dehydration or extra hours of work to cut down.”
“We feel very good, very strong … I’m ready to give a great fight against a very strong opponent,” Navarrete said.
Juan Miguel, grandson of the great Hall of Famer Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, is also winding down his preps with support from fans and family.
International ring matchmaker Lope “Jun” Sarreal, recently sidelined by a bathroom fall, won’t be in Vegas for his grandson.
“But the entire clan will be there because Johnny (Juan Miguel’s dad) travels with the whole barangay each time his son fights,” said Sarreal, brother of JM’s grandma, Laura.
Elorde, currently ranked No. 2 by the WBO, is tipped as a huge underdog, because he has fought low-level foes mostly in the Philippines.
“We received notice out of the blue that Juan Miguel will fight Navarete for his first title crack,” Johnny Elorde said.
“JM being called is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Johnny said via Messenger. “I think we have a 50-50 chance of winning and hopefully with a strategy targeting the Mexican’s body, we can bring home the crown to the Philippines.”
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