Category Archives: ALA Boxing

Ahas snakes past the Mexican in Bacolod

Boxing is subjective. It’s unlike soccer where a 1-0 score is counted when the ball whisks past a goalkeeper. It’s different from the 100-meter dash when a Usain Bolt extends his chest, clips the tape, and raises his Jamaican hands in a WR time of 9.58 seconds.

In boxing, unless one man doesn’t stand after 10 seconds or unless a white towel is thrown by a corner-man, it’s decided by people. It’s subjective.

Last Saturday night, I watched the Donnie Nietes vs. Ramon Garcia Hirales clash. I wasn’t inside SM City’s Cinema 7 or watching at home via PPV. I was, literally, eight feet away from the ring. Beside me were Meyrick Jacalan, Salven Lagumbay, Edward Ligas and Mrs. Lou Pastrano Aldeguer, the wife of the man whose initials bear this event, ALA. We were at ringside. Front row.

I’ll be honest. I thought Nietes lost. Though I did not keep a round-by-round scorecard, my general sentiment was that the Mexican won. Maybe because I summarized the fight as one whole movie—not scoring per 3 minutes—and based my gut feel on Donnie’s exhausted and worrying state from Rounds 6 to 10.

When the judges’ scores were being read, I was standing beside the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman, Monico Puentevella. After the announcer said, “The winner by unanimous decision… and THE NEW…,” I looked at Monico and we both expressed puzzled faces. Slowly, we started to clap.

Of course, many disagreed with me. Talking to Sylvan Jakosalem by phone upon exiting the La Salle compound, Jack (who was together with my dad Bunny and Jingo Quijano here in Cebu) was sure it was the Bacolod native who won in Bacolod. “Garcia missed a lot while Nietes was very accurate,” he said.

Speaking to others after the fight, several arrived at this conclusion: Rounds 1 to 5 were for Donnie; 6 to 10 were for the opponent; 11 and 12 went for Donnie.

Which brings me to the judges. Of the three, it was the Pinoy who was the fairest. He scored it 115-113. The man who’s supposed to be biased was the most impartial. This is laudable. As to the two other (American) judges, their 118-110 and 117-111 scores were unbelievable. What kind of batchoy did they eat?

BACOLOD. The crowd in the City of Smiles is not as vocal or “bugal-bugalon” as the Cebuanos.

TUMBAHA! BIRAHI, NIETES! ATAKIHA!! PIRDIHA! SULUNGA!!!

Knock him out! Hit him! Attack! Beat him! Charge! Those were the many shouts I overheard. Still, they’re not as blunt (no booing) as us, Bisdaks.

What I enjoyed most about the battle? Rounds 1 to 5. “This is the best fight I’ve seen live,” I told Jacs Jacalan, seated to my left. It was. The key word “was.”

Because sadly, after Donnie was spanked by a head butt on his right forehead, he languished. He wilted under the relentless attacks of Garcia. He back-tracked. His legs wobbled. His knees were bent. Donnie’s face, in those rounds 6 to 10, looked distressed. This was unlike the Mexican’s which hardly a scar.

I know TV viewers have the benefit of up-close coverage and slow-motion replays, but nothing beats live action—especially if you’re a few feet away.

You inhale the sounds of body blows punched. You see red blood flowing, as we did in another head butt inflicted on Donnie. You notice the slippery blue surface. You hear the Spanish screams of Team Mexico. And, best, you get showered by cold water and, at times, spitting—like we were close to being sprinkled, sitting behind Garcia’s corner.

In the end, what made Nietes victorious was The End. These were rounds 11 and 12. No one will dispute that these belonged to the former janitor from Murcia. The crowd, sensing that their province-mate was softening, shouted, “NYE-TES! NYE-TES! DO-NI!”

In an I’ll-give-it-my-all-bahala-na 11th Round moment, Donnie unleashed a blitz of bombs and strikes that revitalized his wilting body. We stood. Donnie stood. We clapped. Donnie walloped. Bacolod’s snake, trampled upon and diluted of strength, bit back and spewed its Ilonggo venom.

Donnie, AJ and the Masskara

BACOLOD CITY—This place where I spent my life’s first 14 years, commonly known as “The City of Smiles,” has a different nickname for me today: “The City of Ma-namit na Pagkaon (Good Food).”

Savor the Sate Babi at Bob’s. Munch on the pecho and atay at Chicken House. Salivate at Calea’s sinful desserts. There’s Aboy’s, where fresh fish squirm, ready to be gobbled upon. Pendy’s awaits hungry men while Kaisei’s fresh salmon is dying to be devoured. Bacolod is a city with a plateful of gourmet choices. Consider our itinerary here yesterday:

Jasmin and I arrived at 7:40 A.M., in the same AirPhils flight with Nia Durano Aldeguer, the wife of Chris. Also with us were Carmel Durano and Cathy Tesoro. Upon arrival at the Silay City airport, we zoomed straight for Batchoy at 21 Restaurant, where a bowl of soup, noodles and floating “utok” (bone marrow) awaited our stomachs. By noon, it was at Bob’s. Calea was next.

But we’re not here simply to gorge on food. Because while our taste buds feasted, our eyes were all-enlarged, ready for WBO’s brawl between Cebu and Mexico. All around Bacolod, the buzz here is about their native boy, Donnie. Posters adorned the airport. Billboards paraded the wide roads of Negros. At the L’Fisher Hotel, a life-size photo of AJ Banal stood at the lobby. Inside the SM City-Bacolod, where the weigh-in and public appearances were held, posters littered the mall. The taxi driver I spoke to boasted about his city’s World Championship hosting.

Bacolod, also known in Wikipedia as the “Football City of the Philippines,” is proud of boxing. Bacolod takes pride in this 9th Pinoy Pride. Bidoy Aldeguer, whose initials read “ALA” (Antonio Lopez A.) hails from Bacolod. He studied in La Salle. And that’s a major reason why this rumble is held in this Negros Occidental jungle.

La Salle? That green-colored school was my alma matter from Grade One until First Year High School. That’s eight years. I visited the University of St. La Salle campus yesterday. This was at 11 A.M. Since the front door was locked, I crept down the back door and entered the cavernous gymnasium where Nietes vs. Garcia fought last night. The La Salle Gym holds unbelievable memories for me. It was here where I played countless basketball games until Grade 7—including game-winning shots in the final seconds of championship games.

Yesterday morning, the La Salle Gymnasium was all-ready. The square boxing ring stood elevated at the center. Red carpet covered the parquet floors. Black plastic chairs sat unattended, awaiting the buttocks of their customers. The music of the Black Eyed Peas… “tonight’s gonna be a good night…” blasted from the coliseum’s speakers. I saw Dennis Cañete. The senior official of ALA Promotions, Dennis observed every corner of his performance area. “We’ve been ready for weeks,” said Dennis. “We can’t wait for tonight.”

“Tonight,” of course, was last night. What makes Pinoy Pride IX even more thrilling here is Bacolod’s festival, the Masskara. It’s happening now. This is their version of the Sinulog and, like ours, there’s plenty of celebration: Ilonggos dance and party, beer this Octoberfest is overflowing and, everywhere, you see masks (“Masskara”) of all colors and designs that decorate this city. Boxing + Masskara = bang-bang.

Here’s an interesting footnote: Just like the fight between Manny Pacquaio-Juan Manuel Marquez and the UFC this November 12, when both mega-events are happening on the same evening in America, it’s similar in Bacolod. Last night, October 8, apart from Nietes-Garcia, it was the Tribal Brawl. In its flyer, it states: “Powered by the Universal Reality Combat Championship (URCC), this is the Bold & Raw Amateur Warriors League.” It was the quarterfinals at the SM City-Bacolod. Last night. Same night. URCC vs. PP9. Amazing coincidence, right?

A chat with Donnie Nietes and Greg Slaughter

We spoke in Ilonggo. “Ari ko diri sang September 16 pa (I’ve been here since Sept. 16),” said world champion Donnie Nietes, when we talked late yesterday afternoon.

He arrived in Bacolod City early. “Para maka plastar gid (So I’ll be prepared),” he said.

Speaking from the mobile phone of his trainer, Edmund Villamor, he sounded upbeat. “100 percent ready na ko,” said Donnie, who spoke while at the Hotel Pavilion in Bacolod. Donnie mentioned that he had been training rigorously at both the Guanzon Stable and the One On One Gym.

This Saturday’s WBO light flyweight world championship bout against Mexican invader Ramon Garcia Hirales will be Nietes’ second major battle inside the La Salle Bacolod Gymnasium.

ATENEO CHAMP. Also late yesterday, I talked to a man who, physically, is the opposite of Nietes. Because while the ALA boxer is diminutive and weighs less than 108 lbs., Greg Slaughter is a towering giant.

Stand them side-by-side and you can’t find a more interesting pair. Nietes stands 5-foot-3; Slaugher is a 7-footer. That’s a 21-inch height difference.

Mr. Slaughter did his slaughtering last Saturday, winning the championship. It’s the turn of Mr. Nietes this Saturday to win his championship.

How did you celebrate? I asked Greg. Soft-spoken and humble, he said that he and his teammates went to the Church of the Gesu. “We heard mass to give thanks,” said Greg. “Several of those graduating from our team spoke.”

Did you give a speech? “No I did not.”

When I called yesterday, Greg had just gotten home from class. “School’s still going on for two weeks,” he said. Their big celebration after Ateneo De Manila University won its fourth straight UAAP title will be this Saturday during a giant bonfire party, an Ateneo tradition.

“It’s always sweet to be a champion,” Greg added. “Every time you win, from my wins in UV to this one here in Ateneo, it feels good.”

I reminded Greg that, since he arrived in the Philippines, each year he’s played college basketball, he’s been a champ. Next season? “I don’t know,” said Greg. He still has one more season with Ateneo and, most-likely, will be back.

How about the PBA? “Haven’t really thought about it yet. Exam week is coming up so that’s my focus now.”

The good news for Cebuanos? Greg will take a weekend vacation here. “I want to visit Cebu, to go back,” he said. “I’ll be there this October.”

DONNIE. Back to “The City of Smiles” for this weekend’s Bacolod spectacle, I also spoke to ALA Promotions’ Chad Cañares.

“Donnie’s opponent is arriving at 5:30 this afternoon,” he said yesterday. “The people here in Bacolod are excited. Ticket outlets are doing well. Many are asking for the VIP tickets.”

Their schedule is packed. Today is the media day for Ramon Garcia Hirales at the SM City Bacolod. Tomorrow, it’s the public workout of the fighters, also at SM. On Thursday, it’s the official press conference. On Friday, it’s the weigh-in, again at the SM City. The judges arrive on Thursday; the referee, on Friday.

As to the Pay-Per-View (PPV) here in Cebu, Chad announced that, because of the huge demand, that instead of SM City’s Cinema 1 (which seats 800), the venue is moved to Cinema 7, with a seating capacity of 1,200.

PINK OCTOBER. This Sunday, it’s the yearly Pink October Run to be held at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu. Distances are 10K, 5K and 3K.

Me’anne Alcordo Solomon, one of Cebu’s most vibrant of Rotarians, is helping organize many of this month’s activities. To join the run and the many other activities, visit Active Zone of Ayala Center.

As the Pink October organizers would say, “Remember: Early Detection Saves Lives… Early Detection Saves Money… Early Detection Is The Cure!”

Boxer? No, this Tyson is a joker

Three nights ago, inside the Hoops Dome of Lapu-Lapu City, there transpired a circus. The clown was a Canadian. Shirtless, bald-headed, and wearing the attire that all clowns wear (gold tennis shorts with yellow socks and yellow Nike hi-cuts), he was the comedian. Opposite him was a serious, all-business-like A.J. Banal.

Tyson Cave, now nicknamed ‘The Caveman,’ acted, well, like a caveman. He bent low, hunched forward, gritted his teeth, hopping side to side. Hailing from Halifax, Canada, the 29-year-old promised to entertain the crowd and to dispatch of Banal. He achieved the former; he failed miserably in the latter.

Sport is entertainment. It’s fun; it’s a show. We watch sports to evoke our emotions, to get titillated; possibly, angered. The Prince of Hali, as Tyson was formerly called prior to his new “Caveman” moniker, was entertaining.

Together with Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza and Councilor Harry Radaza, I sat at the front row. We were right behind the corner of the ALA Gym boxers. The Hoops Dome (with tickets priced as low as P100) was nearly 100 percent full.

Cave taunted Banal. He laughed at him; cried when a low blow was delivered. Once, when the comic fell to the ground and had his eyes locked on Banal’s ALA Gym coaches, he spewed invectives.

In Round One, Tyson lifted AJ and catapulted him to the ground. In Round Two, he did the same. Was this wrestling? The UFC? His tactic—from the day he arrived Monday last week—was obvious: to outrage, to mock, to distract, to puzzle Banal so that the 22-year-old from Ermita couldn’t enact his Mactan game plan.

Both fighters weighing-in at 117.75 lbs., it was Cave whose ego was overweight. Only 20 minutes left prior to his bout, he was still walking about, high-fiving the Hoops Dome crowd.

Tyson’s a prankster; not a boxer. Inside the ring, he shuffled his feet, showing off his footwork, as if to dance Footloose. His body splashed with tattoos all over, he leaned forward fronting Banal, with no defenses to cover his face, always tormenting and provoking.

Once, he got punched near the buttocks by AJ. He complained to the referee. Then, he did the most absurd act I’ve seen a supposedly world-class boxer do: he turned his butt facing AJ, slapped it as if to say, “Spank me here, baby!”

Crazy. Entertaining? Yes. Boxing? No. Dirty tactics? Oh, he had plenty. He’d throw low blows against AJ. He hugged AJ, lifted him up, then carried him down to the floor. Binuang.

In the end, when Banal suffered a deep cut above his right eye that elicited an outflow of red fluid, the fight was stopped with 28 seconds left in Round 8.

Banal won via unanimous decision. Did he deserve it? Absolutely. It was one-sided. But, what was Tyson Cave’s reaction, when interviewed by writer Monty Mosher of The Chronicle Herald of Canada?

“‘This s—t has got to stop in boxing,’ he said. ‘I came all over the way over here. I promoted this fight. I could have got a world title shot if I won this. They stole this from me.’”

This guy has gone bonkers. Added Cave’s father: “‘Tyson outpunched the guy and out-boxed the guy,’ said Robert Cave, Tyson’s father and manager. ‘And they gave him the decision. I can’t believe it. It was no head butt, it was a punch. They aren’t going to let that boy get beat, that’s what it is,’ he added. ‘This guy was sucking wind. He couldn’t handle Tyson’s speed, his punches.’”

With AJ, it was a pity to see blood dripping off his cheeks and chest starting the 4th round. From that time on, he was a one-eyed fighter. He winced. His sight was restricted. Had there been no three-centimeter cut, he’d have KO’d the laughingstock enemy.

In the end, the crowd booed. Fans never want to see a fight stopped. When Tyson walked towards his dugout, he was heckled. I saw someone throw a plastic bottle at him.

Still, as non-boxing a fight as that was, it achieved a purpose: Compared to a few spiritless fights in the past, this one was humorous, insane, wild, entertaining—a circus unlike anything Cebuanos had seen before.

Boom Boom

Cebuano boxing aficionados often complain about the slew of nobodies the ALA boxers face each time they fight at the Waterfront Lahug. A First Round knockout. An easy Round 2 TKO. A lopsided, unanimous decision. Not this weekend. Boom Boom Bautista, the most famous boxer representing Cebu and the ALA Boxing Gym, has lost only twice in 32 performances. That’s an impressive 93.75 winning percentage.

Once, he got KOed by Daniel Ponce de Leon. The other fighter to have beaten Rey? Heriberto Ruiz, the shirtless man he’ll be facing on the center-stage three nights from today. Not young at 33 years old, the Mexicano is nine years older than the Boholano.

Boom Boom (fourth from right) with businessman Wally Liu (third from right) and the ALA boxers.. Milan Melindo, Rocky Fuentes, Donnie Nietes, AJ Banal, Mark Melligen and Jason Pagara

Is this good or bad for Boom Boom? Good because Ruiz has been inflicted with thousands more of uppercuts, bloodied noses, wallops, damaged ribs. Bad because of his longevity and experience — and because, mentally, when they eyeball-to-eyeball soon, Ruiz knows he’s won before.

Like in almost all events of the ALA Boxing Promotions — led by the father-and-son duo of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer and his second son, Michael — this will be a crowded, wall-to-wall, SRO-only fight… all eyes on a TKO. This, I predict, will be this island’s Fight of 2011.

Boom-Boom: The Ray Mancini of Cebu

Rey Bautista woke up at 5 in the morning last Friday. He stretched, got dressed, laced his running shoes, and stepped out of the Nasipit, Talamban location of the Antonio Lopez Aldeguer Gymnasium. It was 6 a.m. After two hours of slow-jogging, he returned to the ALA dugout, where he’s slept and resided for over nine years now.

Wala ko ma-hadlok (I’m not scared),” said the boxer known as “Boom Boom.” The “hadlok,” or scare, refers to Heriberto Cuate Ruiz. Out of the 32 men that Bautista has faced on the square-shaped stage, B-B-B has won 30 fights (23 by knockout) — and he’s lost only twice, to Daniel Ponce de Leon and to Ruiz.

I am not a boxer. I do not know the dizzying effect of a right hook, a stabbing left wallop or a jaw-breaking uppercut. Bautista experienced those. In his Nov. 22, 2008 loss to Ruiz — via unanimous decision with the judges’ scorecards of 80-70, 78-72 and 77-73 — our Boholano was castigated by the Mexicano.

Yet…. Wala ko ma hadlok. That’s the confident statement of Bautista, with just 13 evenings to go before his Part II encounter vs. Ruiz.

“I am focused now. I am in great condition,” said Boom-Boom. “In our first fight, wala ko sa sakto na huna-huna (I was not in the proper frame of mind). The main reason was because of my painful hand. Timing lang gyud to.”

That left hand injury was diagnosed as “a rotten bone” on his wrist. Bautista had surgery following that fight and, according to reports, had that rotten wrist bone replaced from another bone from his hip. It took one year before Bautista fought again. That fight was in 2008. The rehab, in 2009. We’re 2011. Time elapses. Wrist wounds heal.

I asked Boom Boom about his nickname. “It was Sir ALA (Tony Aldeguer) who came up with that name,” he said. “My style, said Sir ALA, resembled that of the original Boom Boom — the one with the same first name as me, Ray Mancini. And so I was nicknamed “Boom Boom.”

Rey was only 17 then. He’ll turn 25 eight days after the June 11 fight… on June 19. What birthday gift will you reward yourself if you win? I asked. Boom Boom chuckled. Because as serious as Rey Bautista has been in training, off the boxing court, he is relaxed, even funny.

I’ve experienced this first-hand. The past few months, we’ve been together on several occasions. As president of the Rotary Club of Cebu West, I invited the entire top-notch stable of ALA Gym fighters to our Tuesday night meeting. This was last December.

Surrounded by Donnie Nietes, Mark Melligen, AJ Banal, Z Gorres, Jason Pagara, Milan Melindo, and Rocky Fuentes — an All-Star cast from the A-team of Aldeguer, one man stood out as the most popular. He’s from Candijay, Bohol and stands over 5-foot-6.

Boom Boom, in the Q & A portion of that Rotary night, laughed a lot. He’s a joker. And, later that evening, he showed his being a ladies man by cozying up with our club assistant, Ms. Emma Gallos.

A month or so later, Boom-Boom joined our meeting again. Afterwards, we partook of yoghurt ice cream at John Young’s yoghurt bar. Justin Uy was there. So was Johnny Siao. We stayed up past 10:30 p.m.

Then, during the Davis Cup tennis weekend last March, there was an open-to-the-public sparring session at Parkmall. Boom-Boom shook hands with the tennis team. Then, in one unscripted but unforgettable moment, the two famous men — Boom Boom and Cecil Mamiit of tennis — stood at the center and, with similar heights and muscular builds, stared eyeball-to-eyeball, as if all-set to fight. Laughing ensued. It was fun. Boom Boom, as intense as he is when the fight nears, has fun. He’s funny.

With Cecil Mamiit

With Johnny Arcilla

Let’s all pray that, two Saturdays from today, when the jampacked Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino gets a rousing entrance parade — with matching “Boom Boom Pow” loud music in the speakers — that Bautista will entertain the Cebuanos via a KO win.

Boom’s booming business; Nadal in Cebu?

Will Rep. Manny Pacquiao get to fulfill his goal of meeting Pres. Barack Obama? Let’s see. Let’s hope so. For if it happens, what a dream photograph moment for MP. Everybody wants a picture with Obama. (Remember GMA?) I hope Pacman gets his Oval Office wish.

SUPER. Apart from the half-time show, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the fireworks and the actual Steelers-Packers game, the Super Bowl is known for another contest: Advertisements. Each Super Bowl TV ad costs a monstrous $2.6 million. Computed in pesos, per 30-second advertisement, that’s P113,282,000.

Of the several 2011 Super Bowl advertisements I’ve seen, here are my favorites…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCdnFMp6s84

PALARO. DepEd has released details pertaining to the complaints raised about the Palarong Pambansa selection for Region VII: “Only basketball, football, baseball, sepak takraw, softball and volleyball will conduct evaluations.” This is both good and bad. Good because the rest of the athletes (individual sports) will no longer undergo the confusing “performance evaluation.” Bad because, until now, nearly three months after the Cviraa in Dumaguete City, the final composition of the above-mentioned ballgames has yet to be completed.

BOOM. Rey Bautista and Jason Pagara were our guests last Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Cebu West meeting at the Cebu Country Club. With at least five mega-events organized by the ALA Promotions this 2011—plus, of course, the global power of a certain congressman from Sarangani—Philippine boxing is at its peak today.

Benjie Cimafranca, Roger Un, Ronnie Medalle, Jason Pagara, John Pages, Boom-Boom B., Edito Villamor, Maxwell Espina, Chad Cañares, Nilo Domingo and Philip Tan

Staying up past 10:30 p.m. two nights ago with Boom-Boom, Jason, Chad Cañares and Edito Villamor at the Frostbite Dessert and Yoghurt store (along Juan Luna Ave.), what impressed me most about Boom-Boom was his business acumen. Not wanting to throw his money to waste, he explained to our group (Justin Uy, Johnny Siao, Nilo Domingo, John Young, Camilo Ceniza, Dr. Benjie Cimafranca) his “Booming” venture. He bought several passenger vans and has an expanding V-hire business in Bohol. Plus, during times when he’s available, he drives the van himself–complete with a side-trip tour of his home in Candijay, Bohol. Impressive, Boom-Boom!

NBA. Can you believe the strength of a Carmelo Anthony-powered L.A. Lakers? Rumors are swirling that Andrew Bynum will be traded for the Denver Nuggets superstar. Wow, if that happens, the Anthony-Bryant-Gasol trio will not only rival the Three Kings of Miami—it will also be hard to imagine any other NBA final but the Lakers-Heat.

The Cavaliers? Ouch. Don’t you pity Cleveland? Like a groom left at the altar by a bride who sped away minutes before the “I do’s,” LeBron’s former team has lost 25 straight games. Their standing is 8-44.

NADAL. After his rival Roger Federer won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year award from 2005 to 2008, it’s now Rafa Nadal’s turn. (The past two years were won by Usain Bolt.) In a ceremony in Abu Dhabi, the 24-year-old Spaniard was conferred the trophy. “For me, the most important thing is not being No. 1,” said Nadal, “but to be healthy and keep being competitive in every tournament I play.” Wise words. For someone who plays an all-out physical game that endangers his body, Nadal’s strongest opponent is not Roger, Novak or Andy—it’s the expected breakdown of his body.

Speaking of Spain, would you believe that, if we win the Davis Cup tie against Japan this March 4 to 6 in Lapu-Lapu City… and then we win the next one against either New Zealand or Uzbekistan… then we have a chance to play Rafa? I’m not joking. We are two Davis Cup victories away from joining the highly-prized World Group (top 16 nations including France, U.S., Switzerland…). The last time we entered that group was back in 1991. I flew to Manila and watched Felix Barrientos and Roland So at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium battle against Sweden (whose star, Stefan Edberg, opted not to join; Sweden still won 5-0).

It’s a long shot but… you never know. (If the Azkals can do it…) And speaking of dreams: imagine if we beat Japan, beat NZ/Uzbekistan, draw Spain… and the Davis Cup against Nadal is played in Plantation Bay!

Davis Cup player Cecil Mamiit with Sun.Star’s Marian Baring

BOOM!

Photos by Dondi Joseph

Yep. BOOM. He’s back! Mr. Bautista was impressive. Though I thought he lost that first round, he quarreled in the second 180 seconds and, in the third, his relentlessness stabbed the liver of Alejandro Barrera. On his knees, praying for a reprieve, facing a Boholano warrior, the cousin of Marco Antonio Barrera quit. He couldn’t stand it. He could not stand. Period.

Jason Pagara, only 19, took just 173 seconds before a first-round knockout–just like when Manny Pacquiao flattened Ricky Hatton–when Billy Sumba of Indonesia fell unconscious. Doctors, including top heart surgeon Peter Mancao, climbed the stage. Sumba trembled. His eyes, dazed. An oxygen mask was attached. In minutes, he finally stood. But the man who stood tallest and who toured the seats inside the Waterfront Cebu ballroom as cameras flashed with his flashy smile: Jason Pagara. He’s a talent.

Congratulations to Michael and his dad, Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, for staging another jampacked and thrilling ALA event. Looking forward to another mega-contest this March or April.

ROTARY. Of the hundreds/thousands who watched last Saturday were 14 of my closest friends. We meet every Tuesday night. Last weekend, instead of our usual gathering at the Cebu Country Club, we decided to see blood, sweat, red gloves and KOs.

Jimmy Lao. Maxwell Espina. Ray Patuasi. Benjie Cimafranca. Toto Cupin. Carl Supe. Wilton Uykingtian. Johnny Siao. Dondi Joseph and his son Morgan. Ronnie Medalle. Nonito Narvasa. Camilo Ceniza. Philip Tan. These top Cebuano businessmen are my fellow members of the Rotary Club of Cebu West. In the guise of watching boxing, they sat salivating at three scantily-clad round card girls “imported” by ABS-CBN from Manila. No one blinked. These men sat frozen like statues as the models paraded.(Ha-ha. That’s a semi-joke.) It was the group’s first live boxing watch and, with those boom-boom-bastic girls, I bet it won’t be the last.

Watch ‘Boom Boom Pow’ this Saturday

With the exception of Manny Pacquiao, no other athletes I’ve written about more on this box than Rafa and Roger. In Melbourne for the Australian Open, both, thus far, are en route to another No.1 vs. No.2 showdown. This rivalry bests any other in tennis history. There have been plenty: Sampras-Agassi, Graf-Seles, McEnroe-Borg, Evert-Navratilova. But none compare to R & R. Consider this most unbelievable of statistics: 21 of the last 23 Grand Slam singles champions have been either Federer or Nadal. This is wonderful news for fans of both–but awful for the rest of the ATP Tour.

Roger, of course, is the defending champion of Australia. He’s the Wizard of Oz. He’s appeared in 22 career Grand Slam finals–and won 16. Rafa? He’s aiming for the ‘Rafa Slam.‘ Having won the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2010, if he wins this Sunday at the Rod Laver Arena, that’s four straight majors. Roger hasn’t done that. The last man is R. Laver himself, who accomplished the feat in 1969.

BOOM-BOOM. I’m watching this Saturday. So will over a dozen of my fellow members from the Rotary Club of Cebu West, many of whom are first-time, live-boxing watchers. It’s Rey Bautista–possibly the most famous Filipino on boxing gloves next to Pacquiao and Donaire. His opponent this Jan. 29 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino? He’s a Barrera. And, in Mexico, this family name carries a lineage of champions.

Boom-Boom (center) in this Sept. 2007 photo with (from left) John Pages, Edito Villamor, Jingo Quijano and Jun Migallen

Boom-Boom is exciting to watch because, as his name implies, he boxes to the tune of will.i.am’s hit song, Boom Boom Pow. He’s offensive. He’s self-assured and domineering.

I know plenty of devotees will watch. My hope is that the non-boxing enthusiast will parade to the Waterfront this Saturday, too. Live, watching-with-your-bare-eyes boxing is so much different–and thrilling–than viewing from your TV set. Try it out this weekend.

DAVIS CUP. Harry Don Radaza, the councilor and city council sports and tourism head of Lapu-Lapu City, has news for all: This Friday, tickets to the Philippines vs. Japan tennis event called Davis Cup will finally be for sale. Planet Sports in Ayala Center’s Active Zone and (hopefully, given the permission) Nike Stadium at the SM City will be the official ticket outlets.

PBA. In a contest between the Danding Cojuangco-owned San Miguel Beer and the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned Talk N Text, the winner in Game One was the Tropang Texters of MVP. That game was in Victorias City. Game Two–tomorrow–is back in Metro Manila at the Cuneta Astrodome. Expect this best-of-seven series to be a see-saw battle.

NFL. Far, far away from our 7,107 islands, the top story in American sports was the National Football League. Just two nights ago, two teams emerged winners and will face each other in Super Bowl XLV. It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Green Bay Packers. The Super Bowl–the single most important day in U.S. sports–will be on Feb. 6 at the venue where Manny Pacquiao won twice: the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Like I’ve done in the past, I’ll definitely be late for work that Monday morning (Feb. 7 here) to watch.

M & M. If there’s Rafa-Roger, there’s a version in boxing. When will Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. finally silence his blabbering mouth to fight Manny Pacquiao? In another twist to the numerous curves and turns in this spiraling story, Floyd said he’ll fight Manny.

“I want to talk to my fans,” he said, in an online video reportedly made last weekend. “Okay, I got y’all… I’m never gonna let my fans down. Not me. That’s the reason why I’m 41-0.”

Ever the braggart, he continued… “Don’t worry we’re gonna beat Poochie-iao’s ass. Stop asking the same question. ‘When are you gonna fight Poochie-iao?’ I’m gonna fight the Pacman. Do me a favor… I’m gonna fight the Pacman when he is off the power pellets.”

Here he goes again, calling our Pinoy champ names. Again, he accuses MP of taking ‘power pellets.’ Like you, I can’t wait when Manny will finally extinguish his foul mouth via a boom-boom knockout.

Rotary Cebu West + ALA boxers = a knockout night!

Call me biased. As president of the 48-year-old Rotary Club of Cebu West, I presided over a terrific evening of stars and laughter and Christmas celebration last Tuesday. Our guests? World-class boxers. Not one, two or six—but eight of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer’s best.

Donnie Nietes. Rocky Fuentes. AJ Banal. Jason Pagara. Boom-Boom Bautista. Milan Melindo. Z Gorres. Mark Melligen. All these famous men, all in one room, all sharing their stories – how Nietes started as a janitor before becoming world champ; Boom-Boom’s “secret” three months “abstinence” story, too juicy I can’t share with you here; Melligen’s black eye on Floyd Mayweather, Jr. during sparring; Z Gorres’ touching words and handshake.

Wow. I wish you were all there. The seating arrangement was like a press conference. Lined up on a perched long table with nine seats that included coach Edito Villamor, the boxers were peppered with questions. But, the best part, all queries were light, funny, relaxed. And so – unlike a formal pre-fight press-con where frowns are required – we had a dinner plate of jokes and cheers. Thank you, Michael Aldeguer. Thanks, Dennis Cañete and Chad Cañares. Thanks, most of all, to Tony Aldeguer.

AZKALS. Tonight is the night. It’s when our suddenly-famous Azkals football squad meet Indonesia in the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup. This Game One is supposed to be played in Bacolod. But, unlucky us, nobody expected we’d reach the semis – thus, no ready venue. And so, the game will be broadcast from Jakarta… live at 7:55 p.m. over Star Sports.

Do we stand a chance? Yes. But consider the odds: We have lost 16 of 17 matches against the Indons. The good news, if any: the pressure will be on Indonesia. We have nothing to lose. We’re not even supposed to be there! Thus, Team PHL should have the mentality of a David vs. Goliath. They’re the giants of soccer; they’re supposed to win. But, who knows, with the slingshot of our feet, we might pull-off an upset. Game One is crucial. If the Indons win, they’ll be extra confident heading into Sunday’s Game Two. But, if we beat them — or, score a draw — that will be tremendous. Let’s watch tonight. Go, bark, bite, Azkals!

THE HEAT IS ON. Who said Miami and the Three Kings of LeBron, Dwayne and Bosh were burned? I did. So did millions of others. With an embarrassing 9-8 record two weeks ago, we thought there was no way Erik Spoelstra would survive his coaching stint; no way for the Heat to cook the NBA crown. We’re wrong. Thus far, Miami has won nine straight. What happened? It’s clear that — like most beginnings — this team had yet to gel. Now, they have synergy. In plain English, teamwork. In June, I’m hoping for this finale: Miami vs. L.A.

CEBU CITY MARATHON. The deadline for registration is on Dec. 22. That’s six days from now. If you have yet to enlist, do so now. You may log-in www.CebuMarathon.com, register online, or you can visit the Active Zone of Ayala Center and you’ll find the booth there. Apart from the 42.195-km. distance, there’s the half-marathon (21K) and the 5K Run. Over 4,000 participants have already registered–and so less than 500 New Balance shirts are left for you to grab. Hurry!

MEDAL. Designed by Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan of ASAP Advertising, the CCM finishers medal — limited only to the 42K runners who cross that finish line — is dazzling. Mango-shaped to represent the fruit made famous in Sugbu, the medal has two mangoes interlocked. It’s yours if you’re willing to suffer – and celebrate — running those 42 kms.

TENNIS. The Thirsty Tennis Cup – open to all junior players — will be this Dec. 20 to 23. Three venues are ready: Cebu Country Club (for the Boys 18, 16 and 14), Casino Español (Girls 12, 14, 16 and 18) and Baseline (Boys 12 and Unisex 10). Registration is now on-going at Thirsty Fresh Fruit Juices and Shakes outlets in SM, Ayala and Robinsons with the fee, P350 (inclusive of shirt and Thirsty drinks). Deadline is this Saturday, Dec. 18. For more inquiries, call Sandy or Emma at 416-1122 local 100 or 112.

Michael Aldeguer: ‘AJ Banal in toughest fight’

Gary Valenciano and Martin Nievera are performing tomorrow at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. Yes, we are proud that they’re Pinoy, but, no, they’re not in “Pinoy Pride.” That’s this Saturday. And, instead of a duet, it’s a duel. It’s the duel between AJ Banal and Luis Perez. It’s the concert of boxers: there’s U.S.-based welterweight Mark Melligen, the undefeated Jason Pagara, Larry “Bon Jovi” Canillas, and the popular Jun Intor.

First, let’s talk about Melligen. “Mark has always been talented, even in his amateur days as a member of the RP team when he won silver in the SEA Games,” said ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer. “In 2007, he came to ALA and was part of the program. We felt that he had to be in the U.S. to maximize his potential because of his weight division.

Thanks to the help of Las Vegas-based Tony Martin, Melligen trained at Mayweather’s gym. “He had the chance to spar with Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Marcus Maidana and Devon Alexander,” said Aldeguer. “Mark learned a lot from Floyd who has become his good friend. When he came back, his game was in a different level. Learning from one of the best is a whole new experience for Mark; he patterns his counter-punching style and calculated approach to Mayweather’s.”

Bladimir Hernandez. That’s Melligen’s opponent. Who is this Mexican nicknamed “The Blade?” “He’s a knockout artist with a record of 18 wins and 16 KOs with 14 of his opponents not going past the third round. He also has six first-round KOs,” said Mr. Aldeguer. “When we informed the Top Rank executives about Bladimir Hernandez as Mark’s opponent on Oct. 30, they showed concern and sent us as a video. If you look at Hernandez’s credentials, he’s dangerous–and Mark knows that.”

The main bout, of course, stars Alex John Banal. “AJ has worked so hard on his conditioning which will play a major role in his quest to be a world champion,” said Aldeguer. “We enhanced his training by hiring a conditioning coach in Pio Solon, who specializes on scientific conditioning. Even though ALA had a conditioning program, we felt that it was best to inject the new scientific method to improve on stamina. However, no matter what you do in training, it’s the athlete’s state of mind and mental toughness that are most important. We believe that it comes with age and experience.

Now 21 years old, Banal has matured. “He has learned much from that devastating loss two years ago,” said Aldeguer. “I always believe that everything happens for a reason. To be great, you need to go through adversities. Even Manny Pacquiao went through two knockout losses. I believe Banal is ready. That’s why we’ve risked getting two-time world champion Luiz Perez, who has a menacing record of 27 wins, 17 KOs with only four losses (and those were mostly against world champs such as Joseph Agbeko, the fighter who gave Vic Darchinyan his second loss, and Ricardo Cordoba).”

This Banal-Perez clash will be the Bukidnon-native’s most formidable clash since Concepcion. Originally scheduled in Dubai, Banal wanted Cebuanos to see him redeem himself. “AJ once told me, ‘The loss (to Concepcion) is devastating because I’ve let my supporters down.’” said Aldeguer. “Now he wants to make up for it. Beating Perez is his ticket to stardom and a chance to fight for a world title. AJ is the highest-ranking Filipino with the four organizations: WBO # 2, WBA # 4, IBF # 3, WBC #13.”

As to the difference between ALA’s stars named Bazooka and Boom-Boom? “Rey ‘Boom Boom’ Bautista’s fighting style is very different from that of AJ ‘Bazooka’ Banal’s,” answered Aldeguer. “Boom Boom comes to attack with a volume of punches but Banal, for a lot of boxing experts, is the complete package. He can box. He can brawl. He has good hand speed and excellent footwork. He is versatile and can adopt to any style which confuses opponents.”

Will Alex John confuse Luis? Melligen pulverize Hernandez? Will they bring pride to Pinoys? Two nights from now, let’s watch “Pinoy Pride.”

Philippines vs. The World: Don’t miss this battle!

Michael Pastrano Aldeguer is the president of ALA Promotions. ALA, of course, is Antonio Lopez Aldeguer. The father-and-son tandem has organized a real-life, better-than-the-reel-movies blockbuster: “Philippines vs. The World!”—that’s this Saturday at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino.

“This is our biggest promotion since ‘The Moment of Truth’ with Gorres vs Montiel in 2007,” said Michael Aldeguer. “To put together world-rated Filipino fighters and a former world champ in one card is not easy. Plus, bringing four foreigners with good records entails a huge budget. But this is the plan of ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN—to bring world-class boxing here, in Cebu, which is RP’s boxing capital—just like Las Vegas is to America.”

Who are fighting? There’s Florante Condes vs. Sofyan Effendi (Indonesia). There’s Jimrex Jaca vs. Pipino Cuevas, Jr. (Mexico). Milan Milendo fights Jin Man Jeun (Korea). And, Rey Bautista is against Alejandro Barrera (Mexico). With BoomBoom, if his opponent’s second name sounds familiar, that’s because Alejandro’s cousin is Marco Antonio Barrera.

“It will be star-studded,” said Michael. “It’s hard to say which fight may steal the show but, for one, BoomBoom’s fights are always exciting. The fans know that anytime, BoomBoom can knock-out his opponent—or that he himself could be knocked-out. Alejandro Barrera is a former WBC and NABA champion who holds a record of 20 wins (13 KOs) with only three losses.”

As to the other fights, Michael adds: “Milan will be fighting Jin Man Jeon, a Korean champion rated # 4 in the OPBF. This will be exciting because Koreans come to fight just like Big Yoo (AJ Banal’s last opponent). Milan loves to brawl.

“Jimrex is against Pipino Cuevas Jr., the son of the legend who fought Tommy Hearns. Cuevas is a knock-out artist; in his 14 wins, he had 12 KOs. Jimrex comes to fight so whoever throws the first big punch will win by KO.

“The fans will be excited to watch Florante Condes in his comeback fight under ALA Promotions. He is a former world champion and one of the biggest punchers in boxing. He has the power like Manny Pacquaio.”

Back to B-B-B, this Saturday will be crucial for the Candijay, Bohol-native. “BoomBoom has gone through adversity. Not many know that he was fighting injured the past years. When he lost to Heriberto Ruiz last Nov. 2008, we found out that he had a rotten bone in his left wrist that needed major surgery. He came back last Oct. 2009 but after he knocked-out his opponent, he felt the pain again. His last fight was in Dubai last April which he did not feel any pain. BoomBoom had a good training camp for Barrera. He knows that this is his biggest test… if he has what it takes to be a world champ.”

On this World Champion topic, I asked Michael about ALA stable’s No.1 warrior. “We are very proud of Donnie Nietes. He has gone through a lot. He started as a janitor at the ALA gym. Through hard work, he made it to the top. He drives his own car now and lives in a three-bedroom house. Donnie made history last Sunday when he won in Mexico making him the only Filipino to win three world title fights in Mexico against Mexicans.

“We took the risk of fighting in Mexico for the chance to make history. We knew Donnie could do it. He had the mental toughness. He himself wanted to fight in Mexico to prove a point. He deserves all the attention now because he is such a humble person. Not many know that the Philippines has only two world champs: Nietes and the great Pacquiao.”

Finally, I asked about everyone’s sentimental favorite: Z Gorres. “He’s doing very well. It’s a miracle where he is now after what he has gone through. The support of the Filipinos worldwide was overwhelming. Z once told me that aside from his family, he now understands his reason to live: he has inspired people. Z is one of the nicest guys and he deserves a second chance to live.”

Back to this Saturday’s festival: Boxing fan or not, you must watch. For this event can happen only in the “Las Vegas of the Philippines.”

Z is the world champion of life

Manny Villaruel, the sports editor of The Freeman, wrote it best in his eloquent and impassioned story last Tuesday entitled, Welcome home, Z ‘The Dream’ Gorres: “He was loved by fans for his being a gentle, humble and unassuming person. Following his miraculous recovery from a serious head injury he sustained in a fight that ended his boxing career in November last year, Cebuano fighter Z “The Dream” Gorres drew global attention and has gained, without doubt, more love and adoration.

“And after several months of staying away from home, a proud Filipino nation, the Cebuano community in particular, welcomes back its beloved son, who has since become a symbolic figure of true courage, immeasurable fighting spirit and strong faith in God…

“He may no longer have the physical capacity to achieve his dream, but Gorres can consider himself greater than a world champion for winning the biggest fight of his life.”

Zeta Celestino Gorres arrived home two days ago. At the Patio Isabel luncheon hosted by Antonio L. Aldeguer, the sports mediamen had an up-close look at the boxer nicknamed “Buchoy.”

How does he look? Can he talk? Move? He looks phenomenal. I gripped his right hand. He didn’t just shake hands with me. He gripped it right back. Firm. Tight. A powerful, forceful grip we engaged in for a few seconds.

Z with Edito Villamor (left) and Jun Migallen; standing: John P., Mike Limpag and Edri Aznar

Talk? Yes, he can. In fact, Z has become funny. Very funny. When one of his lady friends asked whether he still remembers her, he paused for a few moments as everyone awaited and, in all seriousness, said, “Wala ko kaila nimo kay ni-gwapa ka (I didn’t recognize you because you became prettier).”

The girl laughed. I did. So did the others. Z smiled.

Z smiles. When he saw his children, he smiled. When he thanked the Aldeguers and the man who took care of him in Las Vegas and accompanied him all the way to our land, Dr. Ben Calderon, he smiled. When he was met at the airport by dozens and hundreds of fans and friends and fellow fighters, he smiled.

Z cried. For he was not a world champion. He won’t be; he’ll never be when he fell to the floor that Friday November the 13th evening. He did not bring home to Mandaue the gift the city awaited: a glittering boxing belt.

But he did more. Much more. For who, but a returning and healthy Z Gorres, could have commanded a convoy of more than 50 vehicles that greeted him at the airport and paraded the streets of Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue and Cebu?

Not MP. “Even Pacquiao did not attract that many cars who joined the welcome,” said Manny Villaruel, who was one of the many who trooped to the Mactan airport.

Z is no world champion. But he did more.

Pa,” he told Antonio Lopez Aldeguer upon his return. “I’m sorry na dili ko ma world champ,” he said, calling Mr. Aldeguer “Pa,” having grown-up in the Aldeguer household and become like a younger brother to Chris, Michael and Jay. “You’re more than a champion,” ALA whispered to him. “You have touched people’s lives.”

Perfectly-said. For isn’t touching people’s lives our ultimate life goal? Isn’t it far nobler an achievement that just being one of boxing’s top-ranked?

Z’s last 90 days have grabbed more attention than almost any other in the boxing community. In Las Vegas, says Dr. Ben Calderon, these past three months have seen a multitude of articles devoted to Z’s condition and his fight for life. “The morning we left for the Philippines,” said top Internist in Nevada, “there was a story on the Las Vegas newspaper about Z.”

The story of Z has inspired the world’s boxing capital to finally enact a bill to help boxers. “Imagine, the medical expenses of Z amounted to over $500,000 and the insurance was only $50,000?” said Michael Aldeguer. “Because of the proposed ‘Z Gorres Bill,’ the insurance, for major and world title fights, will possibly be increased to $1,000,000.”

Thanks to Z. Thanks to his near-death experience. Thanks to his new life. Welcome home, Buchoy.

Near-death tragedy turns into blessing for Z

“Gorres is okay,” said Michael Aldeguer, the president of ALA Promotions, when we spoke yesterday. “He just has a problem with the left side of his face. It’s not paralyzed but it’s not functioning normal yet. But you can talk to him. His mind is sharp and he communicates well. He remembers everything. He has no memory loss. He even makes jokes. But Z is still having a hard time walking. He can walk only for several meters. I talked to him five days ago and we were discussing when he’s coming home. He misses his kids a lot. I asked if he wanted to come home now and he said, ‘Sir, not yet. I don’t want my kids to see me like this.’”

The long-awaited return of our Cebuano hero? It’s late February or early March.

“Miracle,” added Michael. “It was a miracle. I was there all the time. It was one of the most severe cases they ever had, said the doctors. I couldn’t forget this because I slept at the hospital when all this happened. And you know that the doctors opened him up without delay. It was scary. It came to a point when the doctor told me, ‘We did what we had to do. But we’re not sure if he can make it.’ In fact, not many do make it. To me, I couldn’t imagine what would have happened.

“But something good is happening with the unfortunate case of Z. Because we met Frank Slaughter, who is a retired fighter and he’s with a nonprofit boxing organization. He’s talking to the Nevada authorities with the hope that a new state bill will raise the insurance amount of $50,000. That amount is too small.”

The total bill for Z? Just with the University Medical Center (UMC) hospital?

It’s 550,000. Pesos? I asked Mike. “Dollars,” he said. That’s $550,000 or over P26,000,000. “And that’s just for the UMC hospital. That excludes the expenses for the rehab in the U.S. and the rehab when Z’s back to Cebu which might take between six months to one year,” said Michael.

“Good thing plenty are helping. There’s Frank Slaughter, there’s Dr. Ben Calderon, Tony Martin and his wife, Yvonne, and so many more. A group from the U.S. has also launched a website that accepts donations for Z. This site is www.ZGorres.info. We will also soon, here in the Philippines, provide everyone with Z’s account number so donations can be sent straight to their family’s account.”

“Also, Manny Pacquiao has communicated with us and is looking at a mid-February target for a benefit dinner,” he said. “According to interviews, Manny hopes to raise $500,000 in that charity dinner for Z. That would be a great, great help. Right now, with the $550,000 amount, we’re working with Top Rank to pay that off… they have the means. We’re also talking with the insurance companies. We have to come up with something. What’s good is this incident has caused massive awareness, especially in Nevada, where they hold fights every week.”

Mr. Aldeguer then e-mailed me an article published in the state’s top newspaper, Las Vegas Review-Journal, with a full-length story on Z’s catastrophe and his problem with paying the medical bills.

“People have taken notice. The UMC Hospital CEO has spoken. Same with the Nevada State chairman. Boxing promoters make a lot of money and they have to ensure that boxers are well taken-cared of. Many people only see the good side of boxing… but it’s a brutal sport,” said Mike.

“This is our quest now. To help push for this bill. This will be good for the sport. This will be good for the boxers. Because what happened to Z will happen again.

“Even around Asia, where there are plenty of irresponsible fighters, there is awareness now after the scare with Z. Some fighters from Thailand or Indonesia get involved in mismatches. These are very scary. Now, some boxing commissions are getting stricter; they’re reviewing thoroughly the sanctioning of fights. They’re also ensuring that fighters are medically-prepared before they fight. This is the good that has come out of the bad. God has a purpose for Z.”

Visit ZGorres.info.

Rey Bautista: Will his punches boom-boom?

Boom-Boom (center) with Edito Villamor and Atty. Jingo Quijano

His first fight was at the Gaisano Country Mall. He was one week shy of his 17th birthday. Against an unknown Reyco Compendio, he won that battle in June 12, 2003. Since then, Rey Bautista has gone on to become one of the most celebrated of sportsmen in our island, his popularity as high as a Dondon Hontiveros. He also inherited a striking nickname. One that is defined as “bursting” and “explosive.” Continue reading Rey Bautista: Will his punches boom-boom?

Live boxing beats a television box

Ever watched live boxing? You should. No, you have to! I’m not joking. You and I watch prizefights on TV. We all do. Who hasn’t seen our national hero, Dr. Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, on a live telecast at the MGM Grand? We all watch.

But in-the-flesh boxing? With your two eyes? It’s a must. Take last Saturday night at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino. Four couples went out on a quadruple date: not to watch the movie “Taken” at the Ayala Cinema or to stargaze and hold hands at Tops or to drink vodka and dance until 2:30 a.m. at Loft. No. Holding hands, we watched boxing. Live. In the flesh.

Chris Aldeguer and his beauteous wife Nia invited our barkada of marathoners—Frederic and Millette Chiongbian, Meyrick and Perl Jacalan, myself and Jasmin—to a slugfest smorgasbord. Continue reading Live boxing beats a television box