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Saludar captures WBA minimumweight crown

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Saludar with GAB Chairman Baham Mitra.

VETERAN Vic Saludar crowned himself as the new World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight champion, beating fast-rising Robert Paradero in an all-Filipino title fight at the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna last Saturday.

Saludar, nicknamed “Vicious”, used his vast experience to frustrate the erstwhile unbeaten Paradero and eked out a split decision victory in the first-ever world title fight held in the country since the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus disease.

Two of the three judges — Atty. Aquil Tamano and Danrex Tapdasan scored it 115-113 and 116-112 for Saludar, respectively.

The third judge, Alfie Jocosol, saw it 119-110 for Paradero.

With the victory, Saludar captured the vacant WBA minimumweight championship less than two years after losing the WBO crown to Wilfredo Mendez of Puerto Rico last Aug. 24, 2019.

Saludar, the 30-year-old pride of Polomolok, South Cotabato, also raised his record to 21 wins and only four losses since turning pro in 2013.

Paradero, the 21-year-old fighter from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, suffered his first setback after 18 straight victories from 2016.

He previously won by knockout over Jonathan Almacen in a non-title bout in Malaybalay, Bukidnon last April 5, 2019.

A bronze medalist in the 2010 Asian Games and six-time national amateur flyweight champion, Saludar dominated the fight early on by landing several good shots on Paradero in the first two rounds.

Paradero, however, kept the fight close by becoming the more aggressive fighter and hurting the more-experienced Saludar with several body shots .

But Saludar wisely stayed out of trouble in the middle rounds and started to pour it on again in the last three rounds to earn the nod of the judges.

In the supporting main event, Carl Jammes Martin maintained his unblemished status by knocking out Joe Tejones in their 10-round super bantamweight duel of southpaws.

Nicknamed the “Wonder Boy from Lagawe”, the 21-year-old Martin unleashed a barrage of punches to soften up Tejones in the first four rounds and threw a vicious right hook to the body to send his Bukidnon-based opponent to the canvass in the fifth round.

Martin improved his record to 17 wins, including 15 by KOs, since turning pro in March 2016.

Last Dec. 18, Martin won by unanimous decision over Richard Rosales at the IPI Compound in Mandaue, breaking his streak of 11 straight knockouts

The 24-year-ld Tejones dropped to 13-8, with five of his losses coming abroad.

The Valencia, Bukidnon native also lost to Tsuyoshi Tamedaof Japan in 2019, Games and Amusements Board (GAB) Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra personally supervised the blockbuster boxing card promoted by international matchmaker Bebot Elorde of the Elorde Promotions.