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Donaire victorious in Venetian; Cuenca upsets Yang for IBF title



In Top Rank Promotion’s Victory at the Venetian held in Macau, China Saturday night, “the Filipino Flash” scored his second consecutive second round knockout. Nonito Donaire Jr. (35-3, 23KO) defeated French boxer Anthony Settoul (20-4) in their super bantamweight feature bout.

Right from the opening bell, the former five-division world champion was aggresive in cutting his opponent from all angles and attempting quick combinations. In the early stages of the opening round, the Filipino quickly knocked his opponent down after a straight that landed to the side of the face of his opponent. Then, as Settoul stood up, Donaire landed a huge shot to the body of his opponent that momentarily shut down the body of Settoul. The French boxer was able to recover but was groggy heading to his corner during the interval.

In the second round, Donaire stalked his prey knowing that he cannot let his opponent recover. At the 1:17 mark of the round, the Filipino Flash was able to land a powerful right hook that once again knocked his opponent down. The corner of his Settoul threw in the towel knowing that on this night, the 33 year old Donaire had their number.

In the main event of the evening and a battle of unbeatens, Cesar “El Distinto” Cuenca (47-0, 2KO) defeated young upstart Ik Yang (18-1, 13KO) to win the vacant IBF World super lightweight championship. The veteran Cuenca quickly scored a knockdown on his opponent to open the match in the first round. Yang only gained set his imprint on the match in the fifth round in knocked down Cuenca midway. The Mexican was able to recover and was dominant the rest of the way. In frustration, Yang threw El Distinto down while in a clinch that only made the scorecards worse for the upstart boxer from China. Cuenca defeated Yang by unanimous decision 117-110, 115-110, 116-109.

In other bouts, another undefeated fighter continued his streak as Jose Ramirez rolled past Japanese boxer Ryusei Yoshida. Ramirez outclassed his opponent in three rounds of action. With the win, the former Olympian jumps to 14-0, 12KO while Yoshida falls to 26-8.

#1 IBF super lightweight contender Denis Shafikov also made quick work of his opponent Roy Mukhlis. Shafikov just punished his opponent in the third round that resulted to the stoppage at the 1:14 mark. The victor was originally scheduled to face the champion, Mickey Bey, but the champion refused to face his opponent. As a result, he was stripped of the belt due to not competing in a mandatory championship match.

Finally, Chinese upstart Rex Tso continues to make waves in winning his tenth KO victory. This time it was against Thai boxer Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth (21-12-1). The fight was a crowdpleaser as both men exchanged fists and fire for the majority of the bout. Tso was able to gain the upperhand in the exchange at the fourth round and the referee had no other recourse but to end the bout at the 2:55 mark.

Top Rank Boxing’s Victory at Venetian Results
July 18, 2015 – Cotai Arena, Macau, China

Super bantamweight bout (10 rounds): Nonito Donaire def. Anthony Settoul via TKO2 (1:17)
IBF World super lightweight championship: Cesar Rene Cuenca def. Ik Yang via UD (117-110, 115-110, 116-109) to win the championship
Welterweight bout (8 rounds): Jose Carlo Ramirez def. Ryusei Yoshida via TKO3
Super lightweight bout (10 rounds): Denis Shafikov def. Roy Mukhlis via TKO3 (1:14)
Super bantamweight bout (8 rounds): Rex Tso def. Khunkhiri Wor Wisaruth via TKO4 (2:55)
Light heavyweight bout (6 rounds): Qu Peng def. Michael Van Nimwegen via UD (58-56, 58-56, 58-56)
Welterweight bout (6 rounds): Kuok Kun Ng def. Phompetch Twins Gym via KO4 (2:02) due to an uppercut
Super middleweight bout (6 rounds): Zulpikar Maimaitiali and Joo Young Kwon ended via technical draw due to an accidental head butt

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Rose Vargas all set for UAAP return after four-season absence



In an unprecedented move, hard-hitting Far Eastern University spiker Rose Vargas will return to finish her UAAP career when Season 80 kicks off on February 3 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Vargas last played for the Lady Tamaraws in Season 75. With a year of eligibility left, Vargas left the Morayta-based program to focus on her academics and pursue a career in the semi-pro ranks.

Five years since her last UAAP game, Vargas says that she did not hesitate when FEU officials asked if she wanted to return to play out her final year of eligibility.

During her time in the V-League, she played for the Cagayan Valley Rising Suns, the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors, the Bureau of Custom Transformers, and, most recently, the Creamline Cool Smashers.

“‘Yung pag-babalik naman dito (FEU) is hindi ko naman pinag-isipan matagal or nag-dalawang isip ako,” said the Season 74 Best Scorer. “Noong tinanong lang sa akin kung gusto ko daw bumalik, ang sagot ko lang, oo.

“Kasi gusto kong makatulong, and gusto kong makuha ‘yung championship namin na matagal ng hindi nakukuha ng FEU.”

Vargas adds to an already solid FEU core which includes graduating captain Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan.

The last time Vargas suited up for FEU, she was the main piece to a core that included Mari Toni Basas — Toni Rose’s older sister, a young Remy Palma, Gyzelle Sy, and Tin Agno.

Vargas now sees herself as more of a complimentary piece, the hardened veteran looking to guide FEU’s younger guns in a season where much if expected of them.

“Ngayon, nadagdagan siguro yung maturity and ko, pagiging veteran daw, sabi, na pwede ko mai-share din sa mga bata ‘yun, as a leader, as an ate,” added Vargas.

“Nako-contribute ko kung anong knowledge ang natutunan ko.”

League insiders are confident that Vargas, who turned 25-year-old on December 12 last year, will be declared eligible to play in Season 80. Although the UAAP is yet to have their eligibility meeting this week, a source closely monitoring the situation expressed confidence that Vargas will pass the league’s eligibility rules.

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23 for 2023 cadet CJ Perez honored to help out Gilas



Having had the chance to represent the Philippines in FIBA-sanctioned cagefests such the Asia Challenge Cup and the 3X3 All-Stars back in 2016, Lyceum Pirates star CJ Perez is no stranger to the international stage.

But the 24-year-old do-it-all swingman admits that he still gets overwhelmed whenever he sees his seniors — the stars and pillars of the program — in the team. “Nasusurprise [pa rin] ako,” he said. “Mga professionals eh.

“Na-istarstruck pa rin ako sa kanila.”

Perez said so when he finally made his return within Gilas’ realms last Monday night. The last time he was with the National Team was in August 2016, when the SBP built an amateur-laden batch of Gilas cagers that served as the transition from the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers squad to the 2017 SEABA team.

“Sobrang grateful ako (sa invitation),” said the talented six-foot-two guard, after practice at the Meralco Gym.

The reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player is back in the fold for Gilas as his name, along with young, up-and-coming stars, was included in the 23 for 2023 pool — a list of cagers projected to be the contingent for the Manila-hosted World Cup.

“Iniisip ko yun (FIBA World Cup 2023) simula magtawag sila ng practice. Actually nandoon na yung utak ko eh,” the Lyceum Pirate ace bared. “Kailangan ko lang mag work hard pa para makapasok dun sa lineup na yun, kahit malayo pa.

“It’s an honor para ma-represent yung country.”

Unlike in 2016, Perez graced the court and took part in drills with the veterans such as Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo, among others. With those type of players around him, he feels that the lessons he can get will be limitless.

“Oo sobra. Kahit kanino naman (matututo ka talaga),” Perez shared. “(At tsaka) Dito parang more on sa mental. ‘Di na iniisip yung conditioning kasi may ibang teams naman sila so about sa mental toughness [talaga].”

For now, the 23 for 2023 cadets are already working out not just for familiarity, but also to help the seniors in preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this February.

“Sobrang happy and grateful na nakakatulong ako sa kanila kahit sa simpleng practice lang.”

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Blistering Mikey Williams takes home Heritage Import of the Week honor



Photo from ASEAN Basketball League

The resurgent Saigon Heat have been the thorn to topflight clubs teams Hong Kong Eastern Basketball Club and Nanhai Kung Fu, handing both squads their first losses in the eighth season of the ASEAN Basketball League. The Heat would not have done it without Filipino-American import Mikey Williams.

Williams, a 6-foot-2 guard out of Cal State Fullerton, dropped 39 points on 14-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in Saigon’s 121-115 overtime win over Hong Kong.

The former NBA G-Leaguer followed it up with a sensational 24-point, five-rebound, and seven-assist outing in their 96-93 win over Kung Fu.

Overall, the 26-year-old guard averaged 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists, and 1.0 steals to edge out fellow Filipino AJ Mandani of the Singapore Slingers for the weekly award.

For the Local Player of the Week, two Alab Pilipinas stalwarts were the runners-up for the crown.

Reigning local Most Valuable Player Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. and his floor general Josh Urbiztondo had stellar weeks that earned them honorable mentions.

Parks averaged 17.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists for the week that saw Alab lose to the Slingers at home last Wednesday before bouncing back on the road against the Mono Vampire last Sunday.

Urbiztondo, on the other hand, had norms of 14.5 points on a hot 9-for-17 clip from downtown.

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Brazilian football legend Zico to visit Manila



Contributed photos

One of the best to ever play the Beautiful Game is coming to the Philippines. Zico, who electrified the footballing world in the ’70s and ’80s, is slated to visit Manila on the weekend of January 27.

The Brazilian, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, is considered one of the best footballers in the world during the late 70’s and early 80’s. Zico starred for the Brazilian national team, scoring 48 goals in 71 appearances for the Selecao. In 1999, the attacking midfielder came 8th in the FIFA Player of the Century grand jury vote, and in 2004 was named in FIFA’s list of the world’s greatest living players.

Zico played for legendary Brazilian club Flamengo and also for the Italian Serie A team Udinese. He finished his playing career suiting up for Kashima Antlers in the J-League, the top tier of Japanese football, leading them to an unlikely runner-up finish.

The 64-year-old also had a successful managerial career, leading Turkey’s Fenerbahce, Greek team Olympiacos, and CSKA Moscow to titles. Zico was also in charge of the Japanese national team when they won the AFC Asian Cup in 2004. Because of that accomplishment, Zico is one of the most beloved football figures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Seven Seas Properties, a company that promotes Philippine real estate and Philippine stocks in the Japanese market, is bringing the football icon here.

“We are delighted to welcome Zico to the Philippines. I’m sure he will give a big boost to the growing football scene here,” says Seven Seas Properties President Yukihiro Nishimura.

Zico will attend a CSR event with young footballers from underprivileged communities on Saturday, January 27. The following day, Sunday January 28, he will lead a football clinic for elite young players and coaches in the McKinley Hill stadium in Taguig. Football fans and media are welcome to watch this event, which kicks off at 2:00 pm. Admission is free.

Zico in Manila is also made possible by Otsuka – Solar Philippines, Inter Sports Partners, AgriNurture, and Primex.

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