A quiet 2018 for Cebu box­ing?

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

What’s up Cebu Box­ing? Are we still the hotbed of box­ing in the coun­try? For a place to be rec­og­nized as a hotbed of box­ing, two ma­jor in­di­ca­tors should stand out. We must have a good num­ber of world class box­ers, and we must also have a con­sis­tent cal­en­dar of box­ing events held through­out the year.

For cri­te­ria num­ber one, Jhack Te­pora is an in­terim world champ. Don­nie Ni­etes should’ve been crowned with a new world ti­tle but he’ll get a sec­ond try in his next fight. Mi­lan Melindo bowed in his lat­est world ti­tle fight. But the three are up there with the best of the world in their weight classes. We also have a host of world ranked box­ers, re­gional cham­pi­ons or prospects like Al­bert Pa­gara, Chris­tian Araneta, Jeo San­tisima, Melvin Jerusalem, Cris Ros­ales and oth­ers who are be­ing groomed to chal­lenge for a world ti­tle within the next three years. Hon­or­able men­tion goes to Mark Magsayo and Ge­n­e­sis Ser­va­nia who spent most of their box­ing years in Cebu but are no longer con­nected with their for­mer Cebu gyms. With this lot, it’s safe to say Cebu Box­ing is still very much in the mix al­though a lot of box­ing buzz is also be­ing cre­ated down south in Gen­eral San­tos.

But one stun­ning statis­tic that doesn’t look good for Cebu Box­ing is the num­ber of box­ing cards that we have this year. Ac­cord­ing to boxrec.com, Cebu has a to­tal of only eight fight cards in 2018, and it doesn’t in­di­cate if there’s an­other card to be staged in De­cem­ber. Of the eight, only one can be con­sid­ered ma­jor: Pi­noy Pride on Novem­ber 24. The rest are small cards spread over the year and even one event was staged by a Manila-based pro­moter. We didn’t have big time events like those staged at the Water­front Ho­tel or Cebu Coli­seum. If you look at the trend of the past five years, this is a sig­nif­i­cant drop. In 2017, Cebu staged nine events.

In 2016, there were 15 box­ing events. In 2015, there were 21 box­ing cards staged. In 2014, Cebu had 15, and in 2013, there were 12. What hap­pened? Don’t we have box­ers to pro­mote? Are Cebu’s pro­mot­ers los­ing money? Aren’t there spon­sors or TV part­ners will­ing to sup­port? I can still re­call how we would look for­ward to all the box­ing events that filled up the year. There was a nice mix of ma­jor fights fea­tur­ing for­eign­ers and small cards that show­cased ex­cit­ing fights of young prospects. I guess box­ing fans like I were spoiled and we got used to this in the past. And so if you ask us, we’ll say “min­gaw” gyud ang box­ing, even if eight cards in a year are par for the course na­tion­wide.

Lets face it. Stag­ing box­ing events is not a cheap en­deavor. Mil­lions of pe­sos are needed to stage such events and one needs a deep pocket to put it all to­gether. Big events bring in for­eign­ers as op­po­nents for the main fights; and they’re paid in US dol­lars. You also spend for their air­fare, ac­com­mo­da­tions, meals and trans­porta­tion. And a boxer doesn’t travel alone; he comes with a man­ager and a trainer. One also has to pay for the purses of all the box­ers on the fight card, their trans­porta­tion, meals, and ac­com­mo­da­tions (for those from out of town). Venue rental, se­cu­rity, medics are also a must.

And one can never for­get the fees of the of­fi­cials: judges, ref­er­ees, time­keep­ers ring physi­cians, ta­ble of­fi­cials/su­per­vi­sors and ring an­nounc­ers. For big time pro­mo­tions, box­ing pro­mot­ers usu­ally tie up with big me­dia TV part­ners. ABS-CBN and ALA Pro­mo­tions has been a solid part­ner­ship be­hind the Pi­noy Pride se­ries. If I’m not mis­taken, they’ve staged only one edi­tion this year, the one in Maasin fea­tur­ing the Pa­gara broth­ers. The up­com­ing card on the 24th of this month will be their sec­ond of the year. Not counted here are the fights of Ni­etes and Melindo when they fought over­seas. I have a funny feel­ing that rev­enues and spon­sor­ships haven’t been too healthy, thus the slash­ing of Pi­noy Pride events to only two for the year. With Pi­noy Pride slashed to only two fight cards for the year, that’s a huge vac­uum of box­ing go­ing “off the air.”

An­other trend these days that may also have an ef­fect on the stag­ing of lo­cal fights is the send­ing of box­ers abroad for fights.

Cebu-based box­ers have now be­come reg­u­lar fea­tures in fights in many places from the United States toAus­tralia, Rus­sia, China and Ja­pan. This is much more ef­fi­cient from the busi­ness side of things since the box­ing man­ager doesn’t have to spend any­thing at all. All ex­penses are shoul­dered by the pro­moter of the card where these box­ers fight. In fact, the man­ager gets to earn from the reg­u­lar man­ager’s fee or cut that he gets from his boxer. The best ex­am­ples here are Te­pora, Ni­etes and Melindo whose past fights have all been held over­seas where they earn prob­a­bly dou­ble or triple of what they earn if they fight on lo­cal shores.

As fans, there re­ally isn’t much we can do ex­cept com­mit to watch box­ing con­sis­tently so that ad­ver­tis­ers will be at­tracted to spon­sor box­ing events. We also pray that TV view­er­ship in­creases so that the big TV play­ers will sup­port more box­ing events. And we also pray that world-class and crowd-friendly box­ers are de­vel­oped so the mar­ket ex­pands its reach the in­dus­try grows.

Don’t worry. Cebu Box­ing is down for the mo­ment, but will get up, beat the count and never al­low it­self to be knocked out. Box!

Univer­sity of South­ern Philip­pines Foun­da­tion spik­ers cel­e­brate af­ter win­ning the ti­tle in the CE­SAFI vol­ley­ball tour­na­ment yes­ter­day at the USPF gym in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City. PAUL JUN E. ROSAROSO

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