An unprecedented number of Filipino boxers will be featured on the Top Rank Promotions fight card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8 (December 9 in Manila).
Led by Manny Pacquiao who is determined to put an end to the controversies surrounding his three previous encounters with four-division Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez in an eagerly anticipated showdown, four other Filipino boxers will see action including undefeated Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta who will battle Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez for his International Boxing Federation lightweight title.
Other Filipino fighters on the undercard are southpaw Michael Farenas, a protégé of former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa who takes on undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa in a WBA super featherweight interim title fight, Philippine welterweight champion Dennis Laurente who clashes with American Kenny Abril over ten rounds and undefeated Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr., son of the former two division world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa, Sr. whose opponent hasn’t been named yet.
In a rare twist all five Filipinos are southpaws, which is somewhat of an edge that they seem to cultivate. With five Filipinos on the card, it reflects the growing competitiveness of Filipino fighters on the international boxing scene and the reality that they are an attraction.
It would also appear to indicate the powerful influence Pacquiao and his MP Promotions has over Bob Arum with whom they have a tacit agreement that any Filipino who fights on a Top Rank card where Pacquiao is featured especially, must go through Pacquiao’s promotional outfit where the scheduling is handled by his adviser Michael Koncz who is himself close to Arum.
This is the reason why talented fighters from ALA Promotions can’t get a slot on a Top Rank card with the sole exception being WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire who hasn’t been featured on a Pacquiao card but headlines Top Rank fight cards banking on his own indisputable talent which, as of today, has him ranked No. 5 in the prestigious Ring Magazine pound for pound rankings.
No question, the biggest attraction next Saturday will be Pacquiao while Gesta’s crack at a world title will surely draw considerable attention.
Farenas, Laurente and Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr. may be considered essential ingredients to an attractive package that is expected to draw a sell-out crowd as indicated by ticket sales which have always done particularly well even if Pacquiao was the sole Filipino on the card.
In his last sparring session at the Wild Card Gym on Saturday, Pacquiao recovered convincingly from a somewhat lackluster showing on Thursday when observers noted he took too many punches from the rugged Frankie Gomez.
On Saturday, as he often does, Pacquiao turned things around in an exciting fashion. With one week to go before he takes on Marquez, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza told us “Manny looks good, looks sharp and definitely looks ready to go.”
With his charming wife Jinkee among the onlookers, Pacquiao got back at Gomez in a few torrid exchanges during four rounds of sparring before going another four rounds with one of the Roman twins…
How crazy is people in Philippines about basketball? Well, Manila, the capital of the country – 7,000 miles removed from the closest NBA action – is the sixth city in the world where this site draws the most traffic. That puts it ahead of Houston, Washington, Atlanta or Boston, all of them hosting NBA teams.
The game, taken to Philippines by Americans in 1900, has long been popular in the country. It’s by far the most practiced sport by Filipinos and TV ratings are consistently strong. The passion for the game has not equalled success on the international level, though, with lack of height very much to blame. While the National Team has medaled 15 times in Asian tournaments, Philippines has failed to make a big impact on a worldwide level. The country has not qualified for the Olympics since 1972 and has never produced an NBA player.
Although it’s a long shot, at least there’s one young man trying to change the latter. Japeth Aguilar, an athletic 6-foot-9 forward, has spent the last month working out in the U.S. with hopes of joining a pro team stateside. The 25-year-old Aguilar has already practiced in front of scouts from the Spurs and Hornets and tried out for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBADL.
The son of a former basketball player now working in a factory in Chicago, Aguilar calls Jeremy Lin an inspiration to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA one day.
“The story about Jeremy Lin is really inspiring,” Aguilar told HoopsHype. “How he worked to get into the NBA… It’s really inspiring. I actually had the chance to play with him in Las Vegas at Impact (Basketball). He really worked hard. You can tell that he’s really something special. When we were playing with him, you could see he was all over the court. I don’t really know if he remembers, but we went and say ‘Hi” to him.”
As expected, Aguilar’s American adventure is being closely followed back home with daily reports about the experience.
“I think the Philippines is the most basketball-crazy country in the world not to have any local-born player yet making it to the NBA,” Filipino reporter Fidel Mangonon said. “So we’re hoping Japeth makes it.”
“People there always want to know what’s happening (with me),” Aguilar said. “There’s a little pressure from the media. It’s the media and the fans, both. I try not to think about it.”
With the NBA an unrealistic goal at this time, Aguilar’s best shot at a career in the United States right now would be in the D-League. Brian Levy, assistant general manager for the Bakersfield Jam, saw some positives in Aguilar’s game during his workout with the club.
“Japeth has great length and athleticism, especially at his size,” Levy said. “He’s an explosive leaper that runs the floor well and has good instincts when crashing the offensive glass. He can shoot just well enough from three that he must be respected.
“He has the tools to contribute to a team this year if he finds the right situation.”
While Aguilar’s potential remains intriguing, his lack of production in his home country should raise some red flags. At 6-foot-9, he averaged just 5.9 ppg and 4.1 rpg last season at the Governor’s Cup in Philippines, where 6-foot-5 centers are not rare and Aguilar should be dominating on physical skills alone….
LOS ANGELES – TO former Philippine Basketball Association No. 1 pick Japeth Aguilar, it’s now or never.
There is an urgency in the 25-year-old Aguilar, who is in the U.S. right now planning to showcase his basketball skills in front of National Basketball Association and NBA Development League executives and coaches.
The 6’9” Aguilar wants to be the first Philippine born player to make it in the NBA.
“I think about it a lot of times,” said Aguilar to the Asian Journal and ABS-CBN. “Sometimes I pray to God because He gave me this ability, He gave me this athleticism, He gave me the height. I’m just thinking what is my purpose?”
Aguilar believes his purpose is to make it in the NBA or at least do all he can to try and make it.
For Aguilar, so far so good.
Over the weekend, the former PBA Burger King Whopper and Talk N Text Tropang Texters, made a good impression on coaches and officials for the NBA D-League team Bakersfield Jam during an open try out held at East Los Angeles College.
“Japeth is an intriguing player,” said Will Voigt, head coach of the Jam. “Obviously, his length and athleticism. He’s been playing as a four or a five (power forward / center) in the Philippines we’ll have to transition him into a three (small forward). It’s going to be a process for him. But he’s shown flashes throughout the weekend that makes you want to see more.”
Aguilar arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines last week. On a whim, he decided to try out for the Jam, the development league affiliate for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors.
Joining Aguilar were more than 80 basketball players – many of them recently finishing their college career in the NCAA Division I Pac-12. There were ballers from the University of Southern California, Oregon and UCLA, according to Jam assistant general manager Bryan Levy. Saturday began with 80 players before coaches whittled the list down to 20 by the end of the day. Aguilar was one of the 20 chosen to come back and play in the “All Star scrimmage” Sunday.
On Sunday, Aguilar didn’t disappoint. Despite his team losing 62 – 48, Aguilar’s performance stood out. He scored 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, blocked five shots and had one assist. Six of his ten points came as dunks. One dunk came from a breakaway, and another from an alley-oop in bound pass from the baseline.
Coaches praised the Filipino’s performance afterward. Voigt said he likes Aguilar’s game and sees a lot of potential in him.
“I thought his athleticism really stood out,” said Voigt. “He didn’t really shoot the ball as well as he has in the past. But his size and length, the way he moves, I think he just made a lot of plays just based on that.” Jam Assistant Coach John Bryant called Aguilar a very intriguing prospect because of the Filipino’s length, size and athleticism. Bryant commended the Filipino’s game saying Aguilar has “one of the quickest…
Indelibly linked with the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, where Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier laid their bitter boxing rivalry to rest some 37 years ago, the Araneta Coliseum welcomed “the future of fighting” on Friday in the Philippines’ biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) event.
A tied, yellowing banner marking the date of that brutal battle in 1975 reminded fans of the Araneta’s place in boxing history, but most of the 16,500 people packed into the domed venue were not even born when Ali met Frazier in that last great clash of heavyweight titans.
While the full contact sport of MMA has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years, boxing, and the heavyweight division in particular, has fallen on hard times.
Years of greed and self interest, and a lack of direction from the alphabet soup of governing bodies, has brought the once proud sport to its knees. Only a handful of superstars such as the Philippines’ own Manny Pacquiao stand between boxing and sporting irrelevance.
Victor Cui, the CEO of Asia’s biggest MMA promotion ONE Fighting Championship, told Reuters one of the keys to success was figuring out what the current generation of fight fans want.
Sitting at the edge of the cage, as South Korean Kim Soo-chul rained elbows and punches down on home hope Kevin Belington, Cui said part of boxing’s demise lay in its “old school” approach.
“Manny Pacquiao walks on water here, but the days of people buying tickets and being happy just to see two people fight are long gone,” he said.
“Where MMA has succeeded is recognising the overlap between sport and entertainment. Whether it’s MMA or the Olympics or football, you have to entertain, and sports that don’t do that are going to wither and die.”
Nodding to the five star generals and the heads of major Philippine banks and corporations watching the action from the VIP section, Cui said the ‘one size fits all’ approach to hosting live events was out of date.
“From those fans up there with the beer and the cheapest tickets, to the VIPs who walk down the red carpet and enjoy a glass of wine before the fights, I have to make sure I deliver to each and every one of them,” he added.
While boxing continues to bank on diehard fans shelling out for a main event and lackluster undercard on pay per view, MMA has taken to the Internet to open up new revenue streams and tries to give better value for money by stacking fight cards.
Through reality television shows and the canny utilisation of social media, MMA has also become much more accessible than boxing, helping fans connect with fighters and building brand loyalty.
But while boxing has always been considered the gentlemanly form of fighting, the raw violence and lack of regulation in the early years of MMA saw it shunned and scrapping for survival.
Only after evolving from bare-knuckle brawls in underground carparks to highly-regulated bouts between professional athletes has MMA become the mainstream money-spinner it is today.
Alvin Aguilar, who helped bring MMA out of the shadows in the Philippines with his URCC promotion, said fans were frustrated by boxing – the unscrupulous promoters and overpaid fighters — and were increasingly turning to MMA.
The gloves are smaller, a steel cage stands in place of a ring, and a fighter’s fists are not his only weapon. Knees, feet and elbows are used to gain victory, as are an array of grappling submissions.
Just like boxing, however, bodies are broken, blood splashes on the canvas and fans pay good money to watch.
“There’s no such thing as a Filipino man who has never been in a fist fight,” he said. “But boxing these days, it doesn’t do much to entertain fans outside of the fight itself. MMA entertains. For my first event I expected 500 people to come, but 5,000 showed up. I keep saying it, the next Manny Pacquiao is going to come from MMA.”
There was much to entertain the fans on Friday.
American Phil Baroni, the self-proclaimed ‘New York Bad Ass’, strode to the cage giving one-fingered salutes to the crowd. They cheered him harder.
The crowd roared when two Korean ring girls danced to the K-pop smash ‘Gangnam Style’, and went wild when a delirious photographer jumped up on the cage to join them.
#2 pool player in the world Fu Xiao Fang stunned by Iris Ranola at Women’s World 9-ball Championships
Taipei, Taiwan – Reigning Southeast Asian Games double gold medallist and Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) awardee Iris Ranola and Cebuana Rubilen Amit posted impressive wins yesterday at the start of the 2012 AMWAY eSpring Women’s World 9-Ball Championships in Taipei, Taiwan.
The world No. 24 Ranola, who plays for the Aristeo “Putch” Puyat stable, stunned world No. 2 Fu Xiao-Fang of China, 7-4, in the first round of the Group matches.
Meanwhile, Amit the former Women’s World 10-ball champion and world No. 1 Chen Siming of China, both posted 7-0 victories.
“It’s a good start for Iris and Rubilen, I hope they can perform well in the Amway Women’s World 9-Ball event in Taiwan,” said Aristeo “Putch” Puyat, long time benefactor of Ranola and Amit and the acknowledged godfather of Philippine billiards.
The tournament has a total purse of $70,000. It is sanctioned by WPA and organized by Chinese Taipei Billiards Federation (CTBF). The champion will get $20,000 while the runner-up will go home $10,000 richer.
In other results: Tan Ho Yun of Chinese-Taipei edged Yu Ram Cha of Korea, 7-6; Ga Young Kim of Korea nipped Zhuting Wu of China, 7-5; Lin Hsiao Chi of Chinese-Taipei shocked Pan Xiao Ting of China, 7-6; Jasmin Ouschan of Austria toppled Zhou DouDou of China, 7-6 and Allison Fisher of Great Britain tripped Angeline Ticoalu of Indonesia, 7-6.
via Ranola, Amit post emphatic wins at start of 2012 Amway Women’s World 9-Ball Championships | Inquirer News.
SAN FRANCISCO — Giants ace Tim Lincecum’s new $40.5 million, two-year deal includes a series of bonuses for winning the Cy Young and other awards. Lincecum and San Francisco reached verbal agreement on a new contract Tuesday pending a physical, which likely will happen early next week before a formal announcement is made by the club.
Lincecum, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $18 million this year and $22 million in 2013.
Lincecum — the 10th overall draft pick out of Washington in 2006 — has been an All-Star in each of the past four seasons. He went 13-14 with a 2.74 ERA last year for his first losing record. The Giants scored no runs while he was in the game in seven of 33 starts, had one run six times and two runs five times, according to STATS LLC.
During a San Francisco press conference last year, Lincecum acknowledged the huge Filipino following that he enjoys. In fact, because of Lincecum, there is a Filipino Heritage Night every season at AT&T Park. According to Lincecum, whose mother Rebecca Asis is the daughter of Filipino immigrants, “You know, I’m a Filipino. I have Filipino heritage in me. As far as the diversity of the city goes, it’s up there. It’s just great. I think the game is just getting followed more and more worldwide. To find that in your own city, to find that same kind of following it’s good.”, referring to the Filipino fans.
In a recent interview with the Score’s Arda Ocal, UFC middleweight contender Mark Munoz talked about his title eliminator bout at UFC on FOX 2 with arguably the fight game’s most polarizing figure: Chael Sonnen.
“Chael (Sonnen) is a good guy. We’re managed by the same manager…the same management team, so we’re actually real cordial…with one another,” Munoz said about his next opponent in the Octagon. Ocal, recognizing the real life friendship between Munoz and Sonnen, asked “The Filipino Wrecking Machine.” “If you have this knowledge of Chael Sonnen, what percentage of him talking to the media is him selling the fight, and what percentage is the real Chael Sonnen?” ”Uh..about 99 percent,” Munoz said with a smile, “is (Sonnen) selling the fight.”
Will the relationship between Sonnen and Munoz outside the cage affect what happens inside the Octagon? Munoz certainly doesn’t think so. ”I grew up in the sport of wrestling, so we wrestled our friends all the time,” Munoz recalled. “We competed against our friend all the time…so I’m just gonna leave it at that.” ”It’s just business and we can be friends afterwards,” Munoz said. “The winner buys dinner afterwards.”
When asked if he liked the match up, given that he is one of the few professional fighters today with college wrestling credentials superior to Uncle Chael, Munoz kept his answer vague. ”You know, it’s gonna be a tough fight. No matter how much you slice it. I know Chael’s gonna bring it, I’m gonna bring it too, and the best man is gonna win.”
Munoz also discusses other topics such as the importance of fighters getting sponsored, fighting on the FOX network and the mental aspect of fighting.
The winner of the Jan. 28 title eliminator is expected to take on reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva in either May or June of 2012.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris GoCong suffered a strained oblique on Sunday in the Browns lost to Baltimore Ravens. He is listed as day-to-day. GoCong has been playing well. He has 43 tackles, 1.5 sacks in 12 games this season.
Chris Gocong has sent thousands of Asian/Pacific American fans to their computers to Google his name— Chris Gocong: Vietnamese? Filipino? Pacific Islander?
Well, no need to speculate any longer, crack Epicanthus researcher Rachel Roh contacted Gocong’s dad to pin down Chris’ ethnic roots. Here’s what he had to say:
“After review with Chris and his mom (Julie), he is the following—100% American, 12.5% French, 12.5% German, 25% American Indian (and) 25% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 25% Filipino.” So there you have it. Quite a mix. Gocong calls himself a “mutt”
Amano makes reception look easy. Titans center Eugene Amano made the first reception of his career against the Buccaneers, as he snatched a batted Matt Hasselbeck pass out of mid-air and rumbled for seven yards to the Tampa Bay 45.
“It was great,” Hasselbeck said. “When a ball gets tipped, it’s anybody’s ball. Usually you get unlucky and a defender catches it. When it got tipped, my stomach kind of sank, and when Eugene caught it, I was cheering him on. I was his biggest fan.”
Tackle Mike Otto might have been even more excited about the grab.
“It was unbelievable,” Otto said. “I look up and I see Eugene catch it in stride and go downfield … That’s unbelievable. Eugene even looked semi-athletic and that’s impressive.”
Posted on November 27, 2011 by JOHN GLENNON, The Tennessean
So much for the expected Manny Pacquiao rout over his great rival Juan Manuel Marquez. A huge betting favorite, Pacquiao, who has been on an incredible roll in recent years, was expected to handle Marquez decisively, mainly because he was moving up to welterweight (well, actually to the 144-pound catch weight maximum) for the second time in his career, and we all know what happened the first time: Floyd Mayweather Jr. bulldozed him over 12 uncompetitive rounds. Marquez is also 38 now and, besides a farcical first-round knockout of a tomato can in July, he had not fought since struggling to a ninth-round knockout of Michael Katsidis in a lightweight title defense last November. But the three-division champion showed once again that he is the consummate Mexican warrior and still one of the very best fighters in the world. He gave Pacquiao, the 32-year-old Filipino icon, everything he could possibly handle. As usual. They have now waged 36 incredibly close rounds over three terrific fights in one of boxing’s greatest trilogies. It was fitting that Pacquiao-Marquez III took place in the midst of tributes to the great Joe Frazier, who died earlier in the week and was part of boxing’s all-time greatest trilogy with Muhammad Ali.
After three fights between Pacquiao and Marquez there is still no clear-cut winner of any of the bouts, even though Pacquiao is officially ahead 2-0-1 in their rivalry. But he could easily be 0-3 or 1-1-1 or 1-2, whatever. Although Pacquiao got the decision this time, there were numerous writers who scored the fight a draw or for Marquez.
Pacquiao, boxing’s only eight-division titleholder, made the fourth defense of his welterweight belt, but it was not easy. Pacquiao lacked snap on his punches, seemed confused at times and once again had a lot of issues dealing with Marquez’s supreme counterpunching ability, not to mention his nice right hand and even a jab that is underrated. With a pro-Marquez crowd of 16,368 filling the MGM Grand Garden Arena for another huge night, Marquez controlled many of the early rounds and there seemed to be a sense of an upset in the air. But Pacquiao was aggressive and there were so many close rounds. Shocking right? They both had their moments, although neither man was able to visibly hurt the other, though Pacquiao suffered a cut over his right eye (which required 28 stitches) from an accidental head-butt in the ninth round.
While Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, was telling his man to pick the pace and that it was a close fight, Nacho Beristain, Marquez’s Hall of Fame trainer, committed a terrible error in judgment that may have cost his man the fight. He told Marquez in the late going that he was winning, including before the 12th round. Now when you have fought two controversial fights with Pacquiao already and are entering the final round of another obviously close fight, shouldn’t Beristain have told Marquez he had to win the round? Better safe than sorry, right? Instead, Beristain made it seem like they had it in the bag. Marquez seemed to play it slightly safe in the championship rounds. Had he really stepped on the gas and cleanly won the 12th round when the fight looked like it was still on the table — he won the round on one card, but lost on the other two — he would have at least gotten another draw.
The crowd, which was heavily Mexican, hated the decision, booing lustily for many minutes after it was read. Marquez feels as though he has been robbed three times against Pacquiao by the Las Vegas judges. But, as the counterpuncher, he faces a tough situation because as great as he is, judges often will score in favor of the aggressor and the busier man, which was Pacquiao. According to CompuBox statistics — which are not gospel, but at least provide some idea of how the fight went — Pacquiao landed 176 of 578 punches (30 percent) while Marquez connected on 138 of 436 blows (32 percent). So perhaps the edge Pacquiao received from the judges had something do with the fact he threw more and landed more.
Even with his 15th consecutive victory, Pacquiao looked as vulnerable as he has since winning a split decision in the 2008 rematch with Marquez. There was talk of a fourth fight, but it remains to be seen if Pacquiao wants to tangle with him again and Marquez, so frustrated, talked of possible retirement. There is also the specter of Mayweather, who says he will fight May 5 and his representative said he wants to make the long-awaited, massive money fight with Pacquiao. That is the way they should go. That is the fight boxing has needed for a long time. Enough is enough. It’s time to make that fight before one of them loses, which Pacquiao almost did. And if you are Mayweather, you have to be licking your chops after seeing how bad Pacquiao looked compared to the way he usually looks.
If you missed the fight — and if you’re a boxing fan you shouldn’t have — HBO will replay it on Saturday’s edition of “Boxing After Dark” (10:30 p.m. ET/PT) along with coverage of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. making the first defense of his paper middleweight belt against Peter Manfredo Jr. in Houston.
By Dan Rafeal