Bravehearts on a difficult Mexican mission
Sacramento, California—Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong is in hostile territory, in a place where the temperature hovers around 43.5 degrees Celsius this time of the year.
Prompted by pride—both personal and national—and visions of another world title dancing in his head, Dapudong once again has crossed into Mexico, this time to Hermosillo, right smack in the heart of the searing Sonoran desert.
He is hell-bent on a mission that grows more difficult each day—capture the World Boxing Association flyweight title from a local hero, Hernan “Tyson” Marquez—at Hermosillo’s Centro de Usos Multiples on Saturday July 2.
Marquez, accustomed to both winning and the inhospitable weather, hails from Empalme, about two hours from Hermosillo in the northern Mexican state of Sonora. With a record of 30-2-0, 23 knockouts, the 22-year-old Marquez won his title in a thrilling Fight of the Year candidate against Panama’s Luis Concepcion in Panama City in April.
In July of last year, Marquez moved up in class to challenge Nonito “Filipino “Flash” Donaire Jr. for the WBA super flyweight title in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He put up a good fight but was no match to Donaire, the current but inactive WBA bantamweight champ, who stopped him in eight rounds.
After losing to Donaire, Marquez rebounded with two victories before getting that successful title crack against Concepcion.
Meanwhile, Dapudong’s incursions behind enemy lines have had mixed results.
On two weeks’ notice, Edrin (22-3-0, 13 KOs) traveled to the river city of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, in June of last year and knocked out the feared Jesus “The Destroyer” Jimenez to win the then vacant WBA silver flyweight belt.
Three months later, however, Wilbert “Hurricane” Uicab, a whirling dervish with lethal combinations to the head and body, beat Dapudong in the beach resort of Cancun and won that title back for Mexico.
Summers in Hermosillo are hot enough that you can probably fry an egg on the city’s sidewalks. High temperatures outside the fight venue is forecast at first bell. Besides the heat wave, Dapudong will have to fight and deliver amid the partisan passion of the hometown crowd. And for the second time, a mere two weeks’ notice before the fight after the opponent lined up against Marquez backed out.
But Edrin’s manager, former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol is confident that Dapudong, one of the mainstays in the Braveheart Boxing Club, has matured as a fighter. Since the defeat in Cancun, Piñol’s fighter has won his last two fights and has been primed to fight for a world title anytime.
“It is hot in Hermosillo but that’s is working to our advantage,” Piñol told me in an e-mail. “The extreme heat aids Edrin in reducing weight easily, and because of this, he is able to take light food like boiled eggs and camote.”
Piñol along with ALA Boxing vice president Dennis Cañete and trainer Bruce Lerio are with Dapudong in Hermosillo.
“The people seem to be friendly and since we do not belong to any of the drug cartels, I think we will be safe,” observed Piñol, when reminded of the violence plaguing much of Mexico, especially in the border areas that target rival cartel members, the police and the military.