The president of ALA Promotions was my former high school basketball opponent. Trim and fit, he jogs five times each week in Cempark (“I make my business decisions when I run,” he says). The son of Antonio Lopez Aldeguer, he has followed his dad’s passion for the “Sweet Science.” Here’s my Q & A with MPA…
ALA GYM AND ALA PROMOTIONS, WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? ALA GYM is an organization that scouts, trains and manages fighters while ALA Promotions Inc. is a promotional firm that stages international boxing events and showcases the Filipino fighters and other fighters worldwide. The goal is to be a global promotional giant just like Top Rank in the US and Zanfer of Mexico.
For ALA Promotions, we had a successful 2012 except for the Genaro Garcia issue, as the TV ratings consistently reached new heights never seen before, overtaking the popular showbiz shows (consistently in the #1 position in daytime TV every time Pinoy Pride is aired). The key moments last year were the two events in Manila: the June event in Resorts World and the first boxing event in the SM MOA Arena in October. They gathered respectable crowds, more than what we expected. It was the first time in Manila in years that ticket prices for a boxing event were sold that much. The most expensive tickets were the first to be sold out.
For ALA gym, it was a successful year except for the Banal loss. Donnie held on to his crown and is now the longest-reigning Filipino world champion and could be the second longest Filipino world champ in history next to flash Elorde. Boom Boom had his best year injury-free. Milan made a name for himself with wins against named opponents. Jason Pagara had a sweet revenge in knocking out Rosbel Montoya; the rise of Genesis Servania in knocking-out former world champ Genaro Garcia in Manila and Rocky Fuentes winning and defending his OPBF title in Japan.
PLANS FOR 2013/2014: To stage more events, bigger fights with bigger name opponents. We have been working in bringing the Pinoy Pride series to the US. Hopefully, it will happen late this year in San Diego, CA and in the Middle East. In 2015, we are looking at staging events in Europe. Also, we did over 70 shows last year and are looking at over 100 events this year. Our TV partner ABS-CBN and sponsor Asia Brewery Corp. want more shows.
DONNIE. The Nietes vs Fuentes will be the start this year as Moises Fuentes is the WBO 105lb World Champion and will go up in weight to challenge Nietes. In his last fight, Fuentes knocked out Puerto Rican legend Ivan Calderon. This could be the toughest fight for Donnie. We hope to stage the fight here in March but the negotiations have not been easy with Zanfer, the biggest promoter in Mexico who handles Juan Manuel Marquez. They want the fight in Mexico. With Marquez’s win, Mexico Boxing is at its peak which means they have the power now.
TOUR. The ALA Stars Provincial tour was conceptualized to give chances to different provinces all over the country to watch international boxing live and to see their idols in flesh not just in TV, it is also our way of thanking the fans for making “Pinoy Pride” a top rating TV show
AJ BANAL. He’s one fighter who has been in the microscope since he was 16 when GoldenBoy signed him up and at 17 he fought in the undercard of the biggest fight in history Mayweather vs Dela Hoya since then the expectations were higher not allowing Banal to grow into his own. At 19, he fought for a world title and lost in front of his hometown fans, which was a traumatic experience for him,after four years we all thought he got over it but again it turned out to be the same thing all over again. Banal is only 24 and is still young, its up to Banal if he can comeback or not, Just like Villoria, he was knocked out by Carlos Tamara 3 yrs ago and is back now at his best at 32 yrs old.
WHO TO WATCH. Milan Melindo should have a title shot this year and we hope to get some big names for him. Genesis Servania needs a break out fight, Jason Pagara has shown Maturity, Rocky Fuentes and Jimrex Jaca is ready for a title shot.
POTENTIAL. Young fighters Prince Albert Pagara and Melvin Gumban from the ALA gym but we also have potential young stars fighting under ALA Promotions but from different stables.. Undefeated Arthur Villanueva and Merlito Sabillo, Lorenzo Villanueva, Marlon Tapales with more young fighters joining us soon.
UFC? I am not so familiar with UFC and MMA but I know its gaining ground. Still, I believe boxing will always be what it is because of its history and tradition. No question UFC has a brilliant promoter in Dana White but boxing has Bob Arum. The problem with boxing is politics. Take Golden Boy and Top Rank, they refuse to make the big fights because they can’t work together. It destroys the sport.
PACMAN. Manny will have to evaluate himself if he can focus on boxing 100%; if not, he should retire. It’s a demanding sport. Marquez knocked Manny out because he was 100% focused and Manny was not. Manny still has it as he was winning until he got careless and walked into the punch. It’s best for Manny to fight a tune-up first before a rematch with Marquez. He should go back to his strength training and conditioning which he didn’t do in his last fight.
The Parkinson’s disease report was unfair to Manny as the doctor did not even personally check him. Manny knows his body more than anyone but I agree with Bob Arum: have further tests in the US.
NBA? Miami Heat will win again. My best player: Lebron James.