GAB must curtail biggest risk factor: Mismatches

Inquirer Libre - Davao - - SPORTS - By Teo Medina Reynoso

IN an unprecedented move to further promote the growth of Philippine professional boxing, the Games and Amusements Board through its Chairman Abraham Khalili Mitra has sought the help of the Department of Health for a program to provide free medical assistance to our prizefighters especially those who are just starting out in their career or just barely earning to put food on the table.

Under the program, Filipino professional boxers will be provided free medical examinations in any of the DOH-run public hospitals or health care centers in connection with the renewal of their license or in compliance to pre-fight or post-fight medical requirements of the GAB. As it is now, the boxers and/or their handlers are the ones paying for the medical examinations such as CT scan which eat up into the boxers’ oftentimes meager earnings.

The GAB through the initiatives also of Chairman Mitra is also reportedly working for a possible medical insurance coverage for our boxers and has already received an offer from an interested bidder which is willing to provide insurance coverage of up to P30,000 per boxer. That may not be much but at least it is better than nothing.

While these latest moves of the GAB to protect the health and welfare of our professional boxers are commendable and deserve our support, it could do much better if it will also focus on limiting if not altogether eliminating the biggest risk factor that necessitates these measures in the first place.

I am talking about mismatches, especially the ones held abroad where our pro boxers have been exposed to for the longest time due to connivance among local and foreign promoters and managers which several past GAB administrations had either turned a blind eye to or seemed powerless to curtail much less stop.

Though it is noticeable how cases of mismatches involving Pinoy fighters here and abroad have lessened with the assumption of the new GAB leadership, it appears that some boxing handlers here are back to their old ways of doing things. Balik sa dating gawi.

Just this previous week, of the five Pinoy fighters who figured in fights abroad, one for a minor world title and two for major regional titles, only one won--Japan-based Mark John Yap who successfully retained his OPBF bantamweight title via come from behind fourth round knockout of his Japanese challenger Masuda in Tokyo. The others, Ryan Rey Ponteras lost on points to Gideon Buthelezi in South Africa for the IBO super flyweight title, Jaysever Absede lost by fourth round knockout to Koura in Japan for the vacant OPBF minimumweight crown, Jhon Gemino also lost by knockout to Jose Navarette in Mexico and Richard Garcia lost on points to his Chinese foe in Shanghai.

The losing Pinoy fighters all paled in comparison to their opponents as far as world ranking, records and other credentials are concerned, with Abcede and Garcia even coming off not just a loss but series of losses.

The previous week, all Pinoy fighters who saw action in foreign rings also bombed out led by the erstwhile unbeaten but very raw junior lightweight Cris Rosales who was knocked out by Mexican veteran former three division world champion Jhonny Gonzales inside two rounds.

Two potential mismatches are in the offing in Australia with the undefeated world-rated Moloney fighting brothers, Jason and Andrew, tangling with lowly nationally ranked Pinoy fighters, Raymond Tabugon and Lolito Sonsona for WBC Oceania international titles in the super flyweight and super bantamweight divisions. Particularly disturbing is the fight involving Lolito, locally rated number nine in the super flyweight class (115 lbs.), just a notch above Tabugon, who will be going up against Jason Moloney who is a legitimate super bantamweight (122 lbs.).

GAB will indeed do better in curtailing if not stopping boxing mismatches than merely providing our boxers with medical assistance and insurance for doing that will eliminate the biggest risk factor for our fighters.

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