Losing spell: Philippines left with no reigning boxing world champion | Inquirer Sports

Losing spell: Philippines left with no reigning boxing world champion

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 05:52 PM July 12, 2022
Mark Magsayo takes a punch from Rey Vargas during their WBC featherweight title showdown.

Mark Magsayo takes a punch from Rey Vargas during their WBC featherweight title showdown. –SHOWTIME BOXING

MANILA, Philippines—From the pioneering Asian great Pancho Villa to Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and surefire future Hall of Famers Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr., the Philippines has a long and rich history in boxing.

Fast forward to present day, however, the Philippines finds itself longing for a world champion in the sport after its last remaining titlist Mark Magsayo failed in his first title defense, yielding the WBC featherweight belt to Mexico’s Rey Vargas on Sunday.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was only six months ago when Magsayo became the fifth active Filipino boxing champion after he edged Gary Russell Jr. for the 126-pound strap.

Between January and July, one Filipino champion after another was knocked off his pedestal.

FEATURED STORIES

Dethroned

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 26: Fernando Martinez (L) lands a body shot on IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas during a title fight at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on February 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Martinez took the title by unanimous decision.

Fernando Martinez (L) lands a body shot on IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas during a title fight at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on February 26, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Martinez took the title by unanimous decision. Steve Marcus/Getty Images/AFP

Longtime IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas was the first to fall following a stunning loss to Fernando Martinez of Argentina on February 26. Ancajas (33-2, 22KOs) had held the IBF crown since January 2017.

While Ancajas was able to make nine successful title defenses, his compatriot John Riel Casimero’s reign ended abruptly after he got stripped of his WBO bantamweight belt in May 2022.

The enigmatic Casimero was forced to relinquish his title after he failed to defend it against Paul Butler on two occasions.

The first time came in December of last year when Casimero was a no-show during the official weigh-in, citing a case of gastritis and then four months later after he broke strict medical policy by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) for using a sauna to cut down weight prior to his rescheduled title bout in Liverpool, England.

Japan's Naoya Inoue (L) fights against Philippines' Nonito Donaire during their Bantamweight unification boxing match at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on June 7, 2022. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

Japan’s Naoya Inoue (L) fights against Philippines’ Nonito Donaire during their Bantamweight unification boxing match at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on June 7, 2022. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

The misery continued for Philippine boxing in June when Donaire lasted just inside two rounds against top pound-for-pound fighter Naoya Inoue in their much-awaited unification rematch in Saitama, Japan.

Donaire (42-7, 28KOs) was dropped twice en route to a second-round TKO loss as Inoue added the WBC bantamweight crown to his collection.

It took a turn for the worse the following month with both Rene Cuarto and Magsayo losing their world titles less than two weeks apart.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cuarto (20-3-2, 11KOs), who was defending his IBF minimumweight belt, took a split decision loss to Mexican Daniel Valladares in Mexico while Magsayo also lost via split decision despite scoring a ninth-round knockdown.

Failed bids

Two Filipino contenders in Jonas Sultan and Mark Anthony Barriga also failed to make the most of their respective world title shots this year.

Sultan(18-6, 11KOs) was tapped as Casimero’s replacement against Butler in April for the vacant WBO interim title.

Butler won by unanimous decision and was later elevated to full champion status by the WBO.

Barriga (11-2, 2KOs) also lost on points to Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Gonzalez for the WBO light flyweight championship last June.

Next man up

FILE–Donnie Nietes of Philippines exchanges blows with Kazuto Ioka of Japan during the WBO Super Flyweight Title Bout on December 31, 2018 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

FILE–Donnie Nietes of Philippines exchanges blows with Kazuto Ioka of Japan during the WBO Super Flyweight Title Bout on December 31, 2018 in Macau, Macau. (Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images)

Donnie Nietes, who holds the distinction as the longest-reigning Filipino champion, failed to end the losing trend as he botched his bid reclaim the WBO super flyweight title in a rematch with Japan’s Kazuto Ioka in Tokyo.

Nietes lost  to Ioka via unanimous decision in a lopsided bout on Wednesday at Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

He (43-1, 23KOs) beat Ioka by split decision in their first fight to win the vacant WBO crown back in December 2018 in Macau.

But Nietes decided to vacate the belt after he refused WBO’s order to fight fellow Filipino Aston Palicte for a second time to pursue other champions in the 115-pound class.

After Nietes, Ancajas is likely next for a shot at regaining his champion status.

Ancajas has been very vocal about avenging his loss to Martinez and reclaiming the IBF title in a bout targeted for later this year before potentially moving up in weight.

A title shot is also not far down the road for Casimero. Despite his troubles, Casimero remains the number one ranked contender by the WBO.

Up-and-comer Melvin Jerusalem (18-2, 10KOs) is also on track for a crack at a world title as the number one ranked fighter by the WBO at the minimumweight class. He is also ranked No. 2 by the WBC.

Like Nietes, flyweight prospect Dave Apolinario (16-0, 11KOs) is also fighting for the world title—albeit the unwidely recognized International Boxing Organization (IBO) belt—against South African Gideon Buthelezi on July 29 in East London, South Africa.

While there is currently no Filipino boxing champion, it doesn’t take away the fact that the Philippines is a hotbed for talent in the sport and it’s only a matter of time before another is crowned.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Jerwin Ancajas, John Riel Casimero, Mark Magsayo, Nonito Donaire Jr, Rene Cuarto
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our sports news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2022 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.