Future world champ Azukal Servania (all photos by Dong Secuya)
In all my years of watching the ALA (Antonio Lopez Aldeguer) Promotions fights, I’ve never arrived home earlier. A little past 10:20 p.m. last Saturday, I was inside our bedroom, cuddled beside Maria Jasmin Mendez Pages.
Knockout after KO after knockout. Of the eight fights scheduled, we missed watching only two bouts. Of those two, the Japanese invader Kazuma Ejiri KOed Don Amaparado while Elmo Traya won over Gabby Siempo in a unanimous decision — the night’s only bout that reached the full distance. And that was a four-rounder.
Seven of the eight bouts were KOs. That’s an 87.50 percent knockout score.
Bunny, my dad, and Tommy, my daughter’s Swedish tennis coach, and I arrived at the venue by 7:30. The “Chiwawa” from Bais — Richard Barrios — stepped inside the ring against Rocky Incepido. KO! “Magnifico” (Mark Magsayo) against Hagibis Quiñones. KO! Those were all-Filipino contests. Now, entering the Philippines-vs.-Foreigners sequence, you’d think the sessions would last longer. Wrong.
“He looks like a cook from Bangkok!” I overheard one spectator, commenting on Khunkiri Wor Wisaruth, who lost — knocked-cold, of course — against Mark Bernaldez. The Thai, though he lasted five rounds, hardly punched until his face dripped with blood and the referee waived his arms for a stoppage. TKO!
Seated on the 10th row, we had a magnificent view. Sure, TV is relaxing and comfortable and nothing beats the upclose footages and multi-view replays — but nothing, too, beats the suspense and adrenaline rush of a live watch.
After Thai food was served and gobbled-up by the Pinoy, Indonesian cuisine was next. Lande Olin looked funny. He sported long braided hair and wore multi-colored shorts. Did he just come from Boracay? He looked like Bob Marley reincarnated. After 64 seconds in Rd. 2, Bob Marley was floored. He looked like a comedic act that elicited more laughs than claps.
Finally, the two main events: Edgar “Chololo” Martinez from Mexico promised to recreate an earthquake inside Waterfront Hotel. Well, his Richter power measured not 7.2 but 0.072; weak and fragile. To start with, his frame was not slender or light — it was skeletal. Cholokoy ni si Chololo! He was absolutely no match compared to the dapper and suave King Arthur Villanueva, who improved his spotless record to 24 wins in 24 performances. The contest was declared a no-contest inside the first round — I can’t even remember the time because it happened too quickly.
Next, we waited for 30 minutes. I guess the main fighters did not expect to be called so early. King Arthur’s win finished by 8:55. Very early. While waiting, I spent the time chatting with Chris Aldeguer, who was seated beside the super-talented athlete-couple Mendel and Lohriz Lopez.
“The Revenge” turned out to be “The Rout.” In simpler words, the destruction of Genesis Servania over Rafael Concepcion was swift and merciless. You saw it on TV. The perfect ending to a perfect evening of almost perfect knockouts, sugar melted the spicy chili pepper.
Azukal mauled El Torito. With quick, responsive feet and even quicker and more explosive fists, the undefeated 22-year-old Bacolodnon won his 23rd straight bout by handily defeating the old-looking, weary-looking, mauled-too-many-times Concepcion.
After Concepcion’s fall on the canvas, it was Dr. Rene Bonsubre, a fellow sports columnist, who climbed the stage to attend to the unconscious Panamanian. Lying on the floor with eyes open but his body stiff and not moving, Dr. Rene stood up and waved for the oxygen and paramedics to help. He stood again and asked that they speed up. Seconds later, “The Bull” (“El Torito”), though bulldozed, was okay and responsive.
Thirty minutes after, Jasmin was shocked to see me home so early. “All knockouts!” I explained, glad that we won and the bouts finished early.
“Were our fighters that good or were the opponents not good at all?” Hmmm. Good question. I paused for a moment and replied, “Both.”