The crowning of Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo as World Boxing Organization minimum weight champion, raised local boxing to unprecedented heights, Games and Amusement Board chairman Juan Ramon Guanzon said yesterday.
With Donnie “Ahas” Nietes keeping a firm hold on his WBO light flyweight title and Sabillo’s bright prospects as the new WBO miniweight king, Guanzon said he is filled with both pride and sadness as he looks back at the enduring saga of local boxing in the province.
“On one hand, I am happy that both Nietes and Sabillo were products of our Negros Amateur Boxing Association and I have personally seen how they rose from strapping young fighters to what they are now,” Guanzon said.
“But I am also saddened at the desolate condition of our local boxing where the lack of funds, facilities, and equipment continue to hound our fighters,” the GAB chairman and NABA president said.
Guanzon said he always believes in the talent of both Nietes and Sabillo and he is thankful that the Cebu-based ALA Boxing Promotions has taken good care of their careers.
“Much as we want to, we can not give our local pugs the same kind of promotion, training, and exposure that ALA provides them. We are grateful to ALA for giving our Negrense fighters the chance to be recognized for their worldclass talent,” Guanzon said.
On June 29, he said Sabillo will have his first title defense for his WBO miniweight title in Bacolod City.
Guanzon said it is already 99 percent sure that the event will push through and he hopes that all sectors in Negros Occidental will come together to support the new Negrense boxing champion.
While Sabillo’s challenger is yet to be named, he said ALA Promotions has included in the undercards the names of Arthur Villanueva, Juren Labordo, Genesis Servania, Ciso Morales, Melvin Gumban, and Rafael Sueno.
The Sabillo title defense fight in June will be the second time for Bacolod City to host a world title fight, after Nietes won his light flyweight belt at the University of St. La Salle Coliseum in October 2011.
Guanzon said they hope to tap more sponsors for the June 29 boxing extravaganza to help boost local boxing and establish Bacolod City and Negros Occidental as the home of worldclass fighters.*NAB
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