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What comes after a great 2011 campaign for several of Philippine boxing’s marquee names? Endless possibilites in 2012.
It was an interesting year for Philippine boxing as “the others” stepped up, when “the man” appeared to have plateaued.
Manny Pacquiao, boxing’s pound-for-pound king and the Philippines’ National Pride, had a fairly pedestrian year by his standards. His compatriots, however, flourished.
In fact, it was those who used to lurk in his shadows that carried the fight for Philippine boxing in 2011, with exciting wins by fellow top pound-for-pound mainstay Nonito Donaire, Jr., Brian Viloria and Donnie Nietes.
Several new and familiar names also emerged into significance, and are at the cusp of becoming bona fide world champs like Denver Cuello, Milan Melindo, AJ Banal, Mercito Gesta and Drian Francisco to name a few.
Here are some fantasy match-ups that can realistically be made into reality in 2012 involving some of our current top talents:
Nonito Donaire, Jr. vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa and/or JuanMa Lopez
Donaire will be campaigning at 122 for the first time on Feb. 4 against Wildredo Vazquez, Jr. With few real big names to slay at 122, Donaire can go 2 and out at the weight if successful, then easily move up to 126 and challenge either Lopez or Gamboa later this year.
Donaire told me he wants 4 fights in 2012. And if I were his promoter, I can lay it out by having him fight WBC super bantamweight champ Toshiaki Nishioka in May if he gets past Vazquez, then do a tune-up fight at 126 in August, and finally take on either Lopez or Gamboa in December.
Donaire is definitely capable of beating either guy as he has shown that he can carry his power and move up in weight efficiently. There are several other marquee names in the featherweight division such as Chris John, Johnny Gonzalez and Orlando Salido. If Donaire intends to start moving up to superstar status, this is definitely the kind of dangerous path he needs to navigate.
As a side note, Lopez is scheduled to have his rematch with Salido in March.
Milan Melindo vs. Brian Viloria vs. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
Here’s a three-way round-robin tournament I don’t mind seeing. Heck, throw in Moruti Mthalane, Hernan Marquez and Giovani Segura in there and you got yourself a tourney worthy of putting on Showtime.
Melindo is due for a title fight, while Viloria sits atop the division and has the luxury to pick and choose his next opponent. The Thai Wonjongkam has no choice but to face either Melindo or Viloria in 2012 after cherry-picking his opponents in the last couple of years.
Rocky Fuentes is another fight that can be thrown in this mix, and though I’d rather have 2 Pinoy champs rather than 1, I don’t mind seeing the contrast of styles between Melindo and Viloria go up against the other. Just make sure Ivan Calderon, together with his sleep-inducing style stays away.
Donnie Nietes vs. Roman Gonzalez vs. Ulises Solis
Here’s another three-way round-robin tournament I don’t mind seeing. Nietes captured the WBO jr. flyweight crown from Ramon Garcia last October and can the world title belts by fighting the undefeated Gonzalez and Solis. Nietes is a smart and skilled fighter with a style that can give anyone in his division problems. I particularly want to see how he’ll handle the hard-hitting Nicaraguan Gonzalez, in a fight that can easily be made by the top-notch ALA Promotions group.
Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista vs. Daniel “Ponce” De Leon 2
Yes. I want to see it. Bautista did get caught early, and truth is, he had nobody else to blame but himself. I want to see this for many reasons. First, to find out how much Bautista has truly matured and improved, and if he truly has it in him to be a top-notch fighter. What better litmus test than the same guy that exposed his true abilities.
Bautista is a courageous kid with KO power in his fists: two things that always gives a fighter a chance in winning any fight. De Leon told me he is willing to fight Bautista if there’s a significant belt or sensible offer on the table. Bautista said he is yearning for a chance to prove himself again, the way he did against his other former tormentors.
Denver Cuello vs. Nkosinathi Joyi and Kazuto Ioka
Denver Cuello is fun to watch. He’s tough as nails, clever and punches like a minimumweight version of Mike Tyson. His WBC Silver minimumweight title fight tool all but a buck thirty to finish, as he faked a straight and blasted his oppenent with an upper cut to the body. It’s only a matter of time when the top dogs at minimumweight run out of rocks and bushes to hide in.
I will not be surprised if Cuello becomes an undisputed champ after all is said and done. He has started his giant headhunting by sending an open letter to Team Ioka, questioning their manhood by issuing a public challenge.
Drian Francisco vs. AJ Banal vs. Jorge Arce
Mercito Gesta vs. Brandon Rios
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4 then Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
(CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO OF JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ TALKING ABOUT HOW HE WANTED TO SLAP BOB ARUM)
– dSG –
[Pacquiao-Mayweather Central]: Wakee Salud differs with Pacquiao’s willingness to take less cash to fight Floyd / Mayweather sentenced to 6 months in jail; surrender ordered on Jan. 6 (+ video) / Mayweather ducks felony charges; cops a plea deal – Pacquiao next? / Wakee Salud says Pacquiao-Mayweather fight ‘80% sure’ from happening / Still all hype: Mayweather will talk the talk, but forget about Pacquiao in May / A Pac full of Courage / Manny will be a lot bigger than you when he’s standing over you in the ring” — Roach claps back at Mayweather for calling Pacquiao “The Little Man”
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