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’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.


Categorized as ALA Boxing

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.”

Categorized as ALA Boxing

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.”

Categorized as ALA Boxing

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 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.”


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.”

Categorized as ALA Boxing