IT took more than seven years before the magnitude of Manny Pacquiao’s breakthrough performance in boxing’s biggest stage finally sank and produced young and determined boxers eager to carve a name of their own in the square ring.
The likes of Richie Mepranum, Marvin Sansona, Jheter Oliva were all, like Manny Pacquiao, amateur standouts who are now carving a name of their own in professional boxing.
Richie Mepranum, managed by Maasim Mayor Jojo Lopez, is the reigning World Boxing Organization Oriental and Pacific flyweight champion and totes a superb 19-1-1 win-draw-loss record. He is slated to fight in the Pacquiao-De la Hoya undercard if he manages to obtain a visa.
Sansona recently annexed the WBO Asia Pacific Youth flyweight title via a second round stoppage of Joel Rafols in Naga, Cebu on October 4. He now sports a spotless record of nine wins with eight of his victories coming via KOs.
Jheter Oliva is fresh from a sixth round TKO win over Jerome Buntog whom he also knocked down in rounds 1 and 2 in Talisay City, Cebu last October 3, improving is immaculate record to 10 wins with no defeats. Eight of his wins came via knockouts. He is from JM Boxing Stable and is managed by 15-year old JC Boy Mananquil.
The three are just among the scores of promising boxers from the Soccsksargen area dreaming to become world champions one day and follow the footsteps of Manny Pacquiao.
Sadly, local promoters of the old are no longer around to stage fights for these promising boxers.
Promoters/managers in the likes of Naty Cabreros, Erning Jaudian of Magnet Stable, the Claras of Clara boxing stable have since retired from professional boxing.
In the 70s and early 80s, Davao promoters like Vic Adriano and the late Rene Galope have been staging boxing cards in General Santos where the Navareette brothers (Lando and Romy), Andy Balaba (deceased), Lorimer Pontino, Fel Clementes and many more got their breaks.
Today, the only active promoter is Mayor Lopez but most of his cards are staged in Maasim, a good 44 kilometers away from General Santos.
Manny Pacquiao himself dipped his hands in promoting boxing cards in the city but his tight schedule and celebrity status has left boxing promotion in General Santos in the doldrums.
The last professional boxing card held in General Santos was in 2007.
Amateur boxing is doing alright here, okay. Thanks to Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines chapter president Rey Golingan and Mayor Jun Acharon.
The two have been staging weekly amateur boxing matches at the Oval Plaza Gym where the likes of ABS-CBN’s Soscskssrgen TV Patrol reporter Sonny Sombrio have been fielding his amateur wards.
But sooner or later, some of these simonpures will go professionals.
If nobody will step forward to promote boxing bouts here in the city, they will find managers who have access to promoters elsewhere.
Manny and Mayor Jun will have to fill in the shoes if only to repay the city and boxing aficionados who are the faceless men behind the early success of these boxers.
As Manny has proven, honor goes along with success.
And General Santos has created a niche of its own in the boxing world, second only to its tuna products.
Calling Manny and Mayor Jun, and even Pacquiao lawyer and confidante Jeng Gacal, when are we going to see monthly pro boxing cards in the city again?