Flashback memories of ‘The Filipino Flash’ in Cebu

Two months ago — on February 5 — Gerry Malixi, a fellow La Sallian who swims and bikes and is married to Sari Garcia, received a phone call. On his iPhone, the screen said: Rachel Donaire.

“Rachel?” Gerry answered.

“Hi there! We’re in Cebu!” said the sweet voice of the wife of the Philippines’ most famous boxer not named Manny. Rachel handed over the phone to Nonito. “Hey, Gerry!” said the 4-time world boxing champ.

Last Feb. 5, Nonito and Rachel Donaire were in Cebu. Unknown to anyone but their closest relatives, the current King of Boxing flew to our Queen City of Cebu.

“When they called,” Gerry told me last Friday, “I was on my way to the airport. Jun and Rachel wanted to get together. I wanted to cancel my flight but I had an important appointment in Manila.”

On the phone, they spoke for 30 minutes. “I just teased him that he does not keep in touch anymore since he earns more than $1M per fight. His response was, “Kaya nga kita tinawagan, pare! (That’s why I called you!)”

Gerry is Nonito’s closest friend in Cebu. Back in 2007, after Donaire annihilated Vic Darchinyan, the Talibon, Bohol-born champion came to Cebu.

“I met him at the ALA gym,” said Gerry. “I read in the papers that he was coming to train for Maldonado. This was a few months after he knocked out Darchinyan. I asked Tito Tony Aldeguer if I could watch him train. He gladly agreed. I just talked to him after training and told him I was a big fan. We hit it off. He would come to my village (Northtown) to eat in the house. I also sponsored his 1 month membership at Holiday Gym where he worked-out a few times a week.”

When I hosted dinner for the Donaires — Nonito Sr. and Jr. — at Mooon Cafe in Guadalupe (organized by my fellow writer Salven Lagumbay) in Nov. 2007, Gerry was there. So were Cholo Verches, Manny Villaruel, Oliver Kho and Atty. Jingo Quijano.

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Gerry remembers one trip to Manila. “My wife Sari, our son Ivan and I were booked at Oakwood. We had an extra room, so Jun and Rachel stayed with us overnight. We also spent a lot of time at the Manila Polo Club where the waiters mobbed him! Every time I visit Polo Club, the waiters ask when I’ll be taking him back there. I also invited PBA commentator Anthony Suntay to meet him at Polo. By the way, off training, that guy can eat!!! Almost as much as I can! LOL.”

Speaking of food, Gerry recalls those days when Nonito’s dad was very strict. “I remember that all he ate was Eggplant Torta the whole day. Since he had to lose 30 pounds in 1 month! I felt sorry for him. Working out so much with very little food!”

One revelation that will make architect Ed Gallego and his wife Bernadette smile: “He loves La Marea Hot brownie cup!” Gerry said.

On money matters, it was Bob Arum who revealed that Donaire will be earning over $1 million in today’s fight.

Gerry, a businessman who operates Genergex Petroleum, related to me another anecdote about that 2007 fight between Nonito and Luis Maldonado.

“Jun had to sign a contract – this was for his fight against Maldonato. He had no internet access nor did he have a fax. It was urgent, so he asked me if his manager Cameron Dunkin could send his contract by fax to my office or house. I know it’s confidential, but it’s not sealed so I ‘peaked.’ It was $250k. Hehehe. I did not read details. I just saw the amount. I sent the fax to ALA. He signed it and I faxed it back to the US.”

The last time Gerry met his boxing idol was in Nov. 2010. This was during the fight between Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito, which Gerry watched. “He was surprised to see me,” Gerry said. “We wanted to get together but he was too busy with interviews. He invited me to his wedding. Unfortunately, I could not fly down to Manila at that time.”

As to the fight today against the dangerous Guillermo Rigondeaux, who declared that, if he wins, it will be bigger than his two Olympic gold medals, Gerry said: “Rigondeaux is Cuban scary. But I think he’s too small and too inexperienced for Jun! He’ll do easy work on him. Fearless forecast = within 6 rounds.”

Categorized as Boxing
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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