A quiet 2018 for Cebu boxing?
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