Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Following in Manny's footsteps - philstar

Posted by chardyboy on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 0 comments

source: By Joaquin Henson
The Philippine Star

 

LAS VEGAS – Who’s next in line to follow in Manny Pacquiao’s footsteps? Nonito Donaire is a possibility as he’s now a two-division world champion with a huge upside. Donaire, 28, has won the IBF flyweight title and now holds the WBC and WBO bantamweight championship. A showdown with newly crowned WBO super bantamweight titlist Jorge Arce of Mexico would be a matchmaker’s dream.

Superflyweight contender Drian Francisco’s pursuit of a world title was temporarily derailed. A recent shock loss to Terrapith Singwancha has shot down his plan to challenge WBA 115-pound champion Hugo Cazares of Mexico and now, he’ll wait his turn all over again after frittering away his mandatory crack.

Former WBO minimumweight champion Donnie Nietes has invaded the lightflyweight ranks and should be in line for a crack at a second world title but alas, he doesn’t enjoy the stature of a Donaire or even a Francisco. Flyweight Milan Melindo is a hot prospect and two other ALA fighters, A. J. Banal and Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista are sizzling on the comeback trail.

Former North Cotabato Gov. Manny Piñol has a prized protégé in unbeaten 5-7 featherweight southpaw Lorenzo (Thunder) Villanueva who totes a 20-0 record, with 19 KOs. Villanueva is the reigning WBO Oriental 126-pound champion and looks like he’s going places. Another Piñol talent Rommel Asenjo recently failed in a bid to succeed Nietes as WBO 105-pound titleholder. Asenjo was stopped in three rounds by Raul Garcia in Mexico City last April 30.

Aljoe Jaro’s star Denver Cuello is the WBC International minimumweight champion and long overdue for a title shot. Cuello, 24, has a 26-4-6 record, with 16 KOs, and is feared by contenders in his class.
Bernabe Concepcion, 23, was once hailed as a future world champion but has now lost three of his last four outings in an alarming tailspin. Not even Freddie Roach’s presence in his corner could prevent his loss to journeyman Juan Carlos Martinez at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino last Friday. Pacquiao’s legendary Argentine cutman Miguel Diaz was also in Concepcion’s corner.

Alas, Concepcion – who almost dethroned then-WBO featherweight champion Steve Luevano in 2009 – has fallen into hard times. Against Martinez, he was just a ghost of his old self. He hardly let his hands go despite words of encouragement from Roach. Martinez was supposed to be a set-up patsy with an unglamorous 18-12-1 record. But Martinez took advantage of a listless Concepcion to pound out a split eight-round decision. Judge Tim Cheatham saw the Virac, Catanduanes, fighter on top, 77-76, but Burt Clements had it 78-74 and Jerry Roth, 77-75, both for Martinez. The loss dropped Concepcion’s record to 28-5-1, with 15 KOs.

Concepcion has figured in two failed bids for world titles. Against Luevano, he was ahead in one of the three judges scorecards when all hell broke loose. After the bell rang to end the seventh round, Concepcion landed a brutal shot that toppled Luevano. Concepcion was disqualified. Then last year, Concepcion floored defending WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez but couldn’t follow up and was knocked out in the second round in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

It may be the end of the road for Concepcion unless he does something dramatic to reverse his fortunes.

A fighter to watch is unbeaten lightweight southpaw Mercito Gesta, a Mandaue native now based in San Diego. His record is 21-0-1, with 11 KOs. The technical draw was with Rey Llagas in San Andres in 2005. Gesta, 23, relocated to the US in 2007 and has since scored 11 straight wins, eight inside the distance.

Last February, Gesta retired Genaro Trazancos in the third round in San Francisco with relative ease. Fans are calling the charismatic, tattooed Gesta as the next coming of Manny Pacquuiao.
Gesta is affiliated with the Alliance Gym in Chula Vista, San Diego, under manager Joel Coombs.
After the pre-fight Holy Mass for Pacquiao in the South Pacific Events Center of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Gesta said his next fight may be in July against either an Argentine or Mexican contender.
At the moment, Gesta said he is considering which promotions group to sign up with – Golden Boy or Top Rank. He confirmed that there are two firm offers on the table and his manager Coombs is studying both options carefully before making a decision.

* * *
Boxing guru Hermie Rivera was in his elements before, during and after the Pacquiao-Mosley fight, rubbing elbows with the media giants in world boxing. He’s well known in fistic circles as the man who masterminded the world championship careers of Luisito Espinosa and Morris East, now living in this city as a trainer of top-class fighters like Zab Judah.

Rivera said he had the chance to interview two Mexican reporters from ESPN Deportes and they spoke about how Pacquiao is revered as an icon South of the Border. Of course, the reporters were female – which may be why Rivera spent a lot of time doing the interview. They were Cristina Ramirez and Evelyn Martinez.
* * *
Boxing promoter Johnny Elorde and wife Liza were in town to watch the Pacquiao-Mosley fight. In a brief conversation, they mentioned that their son Nico, a La Salle Zobel graduate, has asked for his release from the Green Archers varsity team.

“NIco spoke with coach Dindo (Pumaren) who wanted him to reconsider and sleep over it,” said Liza.

“But Nico feels he won’t have a place with the team anymore. Dan Sara was recruited, Simon Atkins is the starter and L. A. Revilla is back so the point guard position is deep. When Ateneo found out about Nico leaving, (team manager) Luigi Trillo immediately called to ask if he could move. Nico is green-blooded through and through but he wants to play. Ateneo tried to recruit him after high school graduation. Nico decided to stay at La Salle.”

Liza said Nico has enrolled at Ateneo and coach Norman Black will give him the opportunity to crack the lineup. What made Nico decide to leave was Pumaren’s decision to leave him out of the 16-man lineup that he took to Chicago for a training program this summer.

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