THE Games and Amusement Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, is taking up the cudgels for Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) bantamweight champion Mark John Yap.
While most of top sports officials and athletes are still in holiday mood, Mitra buckled down to work in defense of Yap, the Filipino champion from Cagayan de Oro City who was “unfairly stripped of his bantamweight title by OPBF officials from Japan.”
Mitra raised several questions on the decision to strip Yap of the OPBF title and demote him from chamption to No. 1 ranked contender.
Boxing analysts said the decision was “like a below-the-belt punch that must not be tolerated in boxing.”
In a short but direct-to-the point letter to OPBF head Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of Japan, Mitra questioned the decision of the OPBF, a professional boxing organization affiliated to the World Boxing Council that sanctions title fights in the Asian and Pacific region.
“We at the Philippines Games and Amusements Board (GAB) would like to formally inquire why Filipino boxer Mark John Yap was removed as OPBF bantamweight champion, and why now only rated as # 1? May we request for an explanation,” Mitra wrote.
Copies of the letter were obtained by the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS), the Manila-based media group composed of the country’s leading tabloids.
Mitra argued that the removal of Yap’s title without a valid reason has caused harm to the Filipino’s rating in the WBC world rankings.
“This (stripping of Yap’s title) has caused him (Yap) to lose his WBC # 11 world ratings.”
Furthermore, facts seem to indicate that Yasokuchi requested the WBC Ratings Committee to remove Yap from his WBC rating.
“I do not want Filipinos to be pushed around,” stressed Mitra.
In his Fight News Asia report, veteran boxing journalist Carlos Costa wrote extensively about Yap’s case.
“Who is Filipino fighter Mark John Yap and why he as stripped of OPBF belt?
Since GAB, the Philippine government’s authority that oversees pro boxing in the country, puts all its weight on this serious issue, here is a brief recap on Mark John’s battles as OPBF champ at a moment when Filipino boxing fans wonder if the OPBF was right in stripping the Pinoy fighter of his title, or not:
With the ring name of “Journey Man,” Mark John Yap (29-13, 14 KO’s) claimed the vacant OPBF bantamweight championship by knocking out in five rounds the reigning OPBF champion Takahiro Yamamoto (21-6, 17 KO’s) in November of 2016 in Kobe, Japan.
Then, the Filipino successfully defended his OPBF belt by overpowering Japanese bantamweight national champion Kentaro Masuda (27-9, 15 KO’s) in July of 2017 in Osaka, Japan.
Again, “The Journey Man” defended his title by destroying tough Japanese challenger Seizo Kono (19-11-1, 12 KO’s) in ten chapters in December of last year in Osaka, Japan.
And again, Mark John Yap defended his OPBF crown by defeating Nippon warrior Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13 KO’s) in April of 2018 in Tokyo.
The successive OPBF victories earned Yap the right to battle for an WBC title eliminator against unbeaten Japanese rising star Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3 KO’s). It was a 12-round battle in September of 2018 in Tokyo, a good battle that the Filipino lost by points.
However, in the eliminator fight against Takuma Inoue, Mark John Yap’s OPBF title was not on the line.
Therefore, it seems that Yap has been an active OPBF champion who has never lost his belt in the ring, for which stripping him of his title and placing him as No. 1 ranked boxer could be considered as controversial, thus giving merits to the formal inquiry being put forward by GAB.”