The Philippines has four new champions.
Former two-time Philippine titlist Rey Pelonia, Sukarno “Master Showman” Banjao and diminutive Benjie Sorolla knocked out their separate opponents while Mark Sales upset a veteran compatriot to become the first holders of the World Boxing Foundation International crowns in their respective division.
The stocky 32-year old Pelonia stopped former Indonesian welterweight king Ferri Wirawan with single cracking straight right punch to capture the welterweight belt.
Pelonia, a native of Nueva Ecija, never expected a quick victory when Wirawan almost matched his skills in the first round, although the Indon was caught several times with the 32-year old Filipino’s combinations.
As the crowd, including members of Elorde and Sarreal family, at the Grand Flash Ballroom of Elorde Sports Center paid attention to a looming hard fight, a thundering right straight punch from Pelonia did the final damage.
Wirawan sat stunned as referee Bruce McTavish counted him out at 53 seconds of the second round.
Banjao, stablemate of Pelonia under the guidance of the promoter Gabriel “Bebot” Elorde Jr., captured the flyweight belt against the game but talentless Yongki Afrizal, another Indonesian import.
The Negros Occidental-native Banjao scored a knockdown with a left hook late in the 2nd round and then finished Afrizal with a right hand punch at 2:08 of the 6th round. Afrizal also failed to beat American referee Gene Del Bianco’s count.
A nasty cut on Sales from the second accidental clash of heads with seasoned former RP champ Celso Danggod in the fifth round forced the ring physician to advice the referee to stop the bout and consult the scorecards.
Sales was ahead on the scorecards of this writer and Alex Vidal, who both saw him 48-46 ahead to make him the winner of the super-flyweight crown via majority decision in the 5th round. The third judge had it 47-47 draw.
After a slow start, Sorolla began pounding compatriot Rey Orais in the middle of the third round and ended the fight with a single straight right blow to the mid-section, dropping the taller contender from Pasay City, causing him to slump down in neutral corner where he laid stunned and counted out at 53 seconds of the 7th round.
Sorolla’s victory was for the minimumweight belt. “Sa umpisa, nagulat ako kasi ang alam namin kaliwete si Orais,” said Sorolla, who won his first championship he dedicates to his kababayans in E.B Magalona, Negros Occidental.
In the curtain raisers, both scheduled for four rounds, superbantam Rey Labao from Leyte stopped southpaw Leonard Dagdagen from Caloocan City at 1:14 of the first round, while Elorde’s minimumweight fighter Marlo Villamor from Baybay, Leyte scored two knockdowns en route to a TKO win at 1:02 of the second round over Domingo Paraiso from Laguna.
The boxing show was a tribute to the 100th birthday of the late Lope “Papa” Sarreal, the Grand old man of Philippine boxing, who produced 22 world champions, including his son-in-law Flash Elorde. Parts of the proceeds will be donated to the St. Rita College and Orphanage in Paranaque City.
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