BEFORE VIC “Vicious” Saludar’ s split decision victory over upstart Robert Paradero in an all-Filipino title fight for the World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight championship in Biñan, Laguna last Saturday, the biggest boxing news to hit the local world of prize fighting is the decision to strip boxing legend Manny Pacquiao his WBA super welterweight championship.
The WBA, the oldest of four major boxing organizations which sanction professional boxing fights, stripped Pacquiao of his super welterweight crown due to inactivity.
And although the WBA tried to soften the blow by declaring Pacquiao as “Champion in Recess“, the Panama-based boxing organization has promoted Cuban boxer Yorden Ugas as super welterweight champion.
What would the WBA be without Pacquiao one of the boxing world’s biggest attractions in recent years?
Pacquiao, after all, is now synonymous with boxing.
And in a nation which had its fair share of legendary world boxing champions in the mold of Pancho Villa, Gabriel “Flash” Elorde and Erbito Salavarria, Pacquiao ranks highly on the elite list.
The WBA, now headed by Gilberto Mendoza, Jr., may have done a lot in the promotion of professional boxing since its establishment in 1963.
But stripping Pacquiao of his super welterweight crown simply because he can’t fight due to the worldwide lockdown in sports due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak missed its target completely.
To the boxing world, this decision isn’t a knockout.
Rightly so, the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) under Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra is now taking up the cudgels for Pacquiao.
As GAB head, Mitra is now pulling all strings to help Pacquiao recapture his super welterweight crown.
In a two-page appeal letter addressed to Mr. Mendoza, Mitra asked for the immediate restoration of Pacquiao’s WBA welterweight championship belt which he had won against Keith Thurman on July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As the government agency mandated by law to regulate and supervise professional boxing and other combat sports in the country, GAB requested the WBA to shed light on the matter involving the revocation of Pacquiao’s WBA belt.
“GAB is mandated by law to champion the rights of every Filipino professional boxer at all times. That is why we are appealing to WBA to reconsider its decision,” Mitra told sportswriters in explaining the decision to try to recapture the Filipino fighter’s crown.
Citing Rule C.22 and C.23 of the WBA Rules on reverting a ‘Champion in Recess’ to his former status, Mitra said GAB would assist the eight-division champion to return from being “Champion in Recess to the status of a Full Champion.”
“We are studying the WBA Rules and we want to assist our good Senator who may have to fight next. Also, we want to know from our partners in the WBA what particular documentation that we must have to comply with as WBA requirements, to regain the WBA belt, in case our Pinoy boxing champ opts to,” added Mitra.
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Ten more legendary Filipino sports heroes will soon be enshrined to the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) .
PSC Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and PSHOF secretariat head Anna Christine Abellana said a total of 44 legendary athletes from various sports were nominated and the 15-man screening and review committee has started to prune down the list.
The final list is expected to be determined on March 5.
Abellana also said the PSC is increasing the financial rewards to the inductees — from P100,000 to P200,000 — to help them during these trying times amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have increased the amount of the token because of the needs in these times,” said Abellana during the PSC Hour program of the Radyo Pilipinas Dos last Friday.
Among those expected to be included in the fourth batch of inductees are well-known Olympians Leopoldo Serrantes (boxing), Roel Velasco (boxing), Stephen Fernandez (taekwondo), Arianne Cerdena (bowling), Dionisio Calvo (basketball) and Tuding Lozada (swimming).
By virtue of Republic Act No. 8757 or the Philippine Sports Hall of Fame Act, the highest sports award-giving body has enshrined Filipino athletes, coaches, and trainers who made valuable contributions in Philippine sports since its first induction in 2010.
NOTES — My heartfelt condolences to the family of my very good friend, Arman D. Armero, who passed away last Monday, Feb. 22. Armero was my college buddy at the Lyceum of the Philippines where we took up journalism from 1982-1985 and worked as my assistant sports editor at People’s Tonight from 1991 to 2002.
Always a loyal companion, he was also one of the founders of the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS), which we established in 2018.
Goodbye, my friend.
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