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Boxing

Sole loss continues to motivate Arthur Villanueva

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As the cliché goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

In his eight-year prize fighting career, Arthur Villanueva (30-1, 16 KOs) has only tasted defeat once.

Back in 2015, Villanueva absorbed the sole loss on his slate at the hands of McJoe Arroyo. The match had all the marbles on the line, as the vacant IBF world Super Flyweight title had been up for grabs. And the match still to give him nightmares, as he continues to believe that he had won the fight.

Nearly two years have passed, but Villanueva still remembers that sting of defeat. It is not because he has not moved on from it, however; rather, he treats it as a pivotal experience that has helped him move forward.

Since that loss, the 30-year old Negrense has strung together a three-fight win streak and is on the verge of another world title shot.

But if he had not experienced the Arroyo fight, this would not have been possible, according to him.

“Siyempre may natutunan din ako sa laban ko kahit natalo ako at naging inspirasyon ko din yun para manalo ako sa mga laban ko,” Villanueva, who is slated to fight Zolani Tete (24-3), this weekend in the UK, told Tiebreaker Times. “Kumbaga yung negative impact sakin sa pagkatalo ko ay ginawa kong positive para mas maging better fighter pa ako sa mga susunod kung laban.

“Yung mga na-learn ko dun sa laban namin ni Arroyo kailangan kong i-apply ngayon sa laban ko kay Tete. Dapat maipakita ko na panalo ako bawat round.”

The loss forced Villanueva to re-assess himself and take an even more detailed approach to fighting. From the preparation down to the fight itself, he makes sure to be diligent — especially with his conditioning. In addition, it made him realize that a move to bantamweight was necessary.

The result? Better performances and more exposure.

While the sacrifices he has made may be painstaking, Villanueva has taken it as a challenge to reinvent himself as a boxer. Moreover, has given him the right focus for every task at hand.

“Naging matured na talaga ako sa laban ko since nung pagkatalo ko kay Arroyo at malaki na din ang pagbabago ng kondisyon ko mula ng umakyat ako ng timbang. Mas gumanda ang kondisyon ko,” he pointed out.

A shot at reigning WBO bantamweight king Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12KOs) could be looming if he impresses against Tete — an All-Filipino showdown that he has looked forward to since the “Maranding Nightmare”, and against a fighter who also trains out of Cebu and is his good friend.WBO Champion - Marlon Tapales

“Matagal ko ring hinintay ang laban na iyon since nasa 115-pounds pa kami pareho,” he said.

“Pinaghirapan ko ang preparation ko ngayon at nag-ensayo ako ng mabuti dahil alam ko na ito lang din ang chance ko na makabalik ulit sa world title fight.

“Kung sakaling kami [ni Marlon] ang mag-aabot, siguro pareho kaming ma-prepressure dahil nga world championship eto. Pero alam ko ‘pag dating na sa ibabaw ng ring talagang ibibigay mo lahat ng galing mo eh at sigurado akong magiging magandang laban ito,” he promised.

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Manny Pacquiao eyes bout against Vasyl Lomachenko

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Even if he has hinted at retirement numerous times, Senator Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38KO) continues to stress that the time is not yet now.

In an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Wednesday morning, the 39-year-old sure hall of famer reiterated his stance that he and his camp are still looking for the best fights possible.

“I am not retired yet. Alam mo na-mimiss ko yun boxing e,” Pacquiao told Karen Davilla.

“I’m still okay.”

Pacquiao, who lost his last bout against Jeff Horn last July 2, is not afraid that another loss might affect his legacy.

Pressed about who he wants to fight next, boxing’s only eight-division world champion disclosed that he is currently under negotiations with the camp of WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8KO).

“Wala akong problema kung Amir Khan. May discussion din ngayon kay Lomachenko, he is the number one pound-for-pound fighter,” Pacquiao shared.

“Hindi pa na-finalize pero this year.”

Pacquiao is eyeing an April date for the bout, as it will be the time the senate goes on a break.

“This year, by April. Pangako ko sa mga tao na hindi maapektuhan ang trabaho ko. April, magandang idea dahil off kami from March 23 to May 13. April wala kaming trabaho,” a confident Pacquiao added.

“Three months is more than enough time to prepare.”

However, there is still one hindrance to the bout, according to Pacquiao. The two camps have yet to agree on which weight class the bout will be held.

According to reports, Lomachenko wants the bout to be at lightweight — a division Pacquiao has not been in for the last 10 years.

“Hindi pa sure. Nag-uusap pa about sa timbang.”

One thing is for sure — Pacquiao is hungrier than ever.

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SMART Sports’ Best of 2017: Pound for Pound

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2017 was an up-and-down year for Philippine martial arts

While world champions fell and expectations were not met in international campaigns, young warriors also rose. And this keeps the future bright for the industry.

Before we begin, martial artists that need to be acknowledged as well are former ONE Featherweight World Champion Eduard Folayang (Career: 18-6, 2017: 1-1), former IBF Light Flyweight World Champion Milan Melindo (Career: 37-3, 13KO, 2017: 2-1), SEA Games gold medalist Samuel Morrison (Taekwondo, -74kg), SEA Games gold medalist Dines Dumaan (Pencak Silat – Men’s Tanding (Match) Class A), and SEA Games gold medalist Agatha Wong (Women’s Compulsory 3rd Taijiquan).

Here is the top pound-for-pound list for the year that was.

Mixed martial arts: Kevin Belingon (Bantamweight)

Representing the famed Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon is one of the country’s most talented martial artists with a professional record of 16-5.

Belingon is known as a fierce competitor with the ability to finish opponents in a variety of methods as the 29-year old Wushu practitioner owns seven huge knockouts on his resume and is considered as one of the most feared strikers in ONE Championship’s deep bantamweight division.

Since losing to reigning ONE Bantamweight World Champion Bibiano “The Flash” Fernandes in January 2016, Belingon has barged through his top rivals with a slew of fearsome striking performances and showcased his incredible punching power.

It began with a thorough defeat of Tajikistan’s highly-touted Muin Gafurov in October 2016, followed by a complete first-round annihilation of Finnish submission wizard Toni “Dynamite” Tauru at ONE Kings of Destiny in Manila, Philippines.

Those two consecutive wins earned Belingon a showdown with top bantamweight contender Reece “Lightning” McLaren at ONE: Quest for Greatness in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Belingon needed just 62 seconds to end matters abruptly as hee began the bout-ending sequence by dropping McLaren with a well-placed overhand right.

As the Aussie crashed to the canvas, Belingon followed with a relentless volley of punches to finish the contest.

At ONE: Legends of the World in Manila, Philippines, Belingon scored his fourth straight victory by defeating Korean-American contender Kevin “Old Boy” Chung via unanimous decision.

Come 2018, he is looking to get another crack at gold.

Judo: Kiyomi Watanabe (-63kg)/Mariya Takahashi (-70kg)

In a lackluster 2017 Southeast Asian Games campaign, there was a sport that came into national consciousness. Women’s judo hauled two of the medals for the division.

And it’s all thanks to Filipino-Japanese judokas Kiyomi Watanabe and Mariya Takahashi.

Watanabe, who celebrated her 21st birthday last August 25 — a day before she took stage, wasted no time in dispatching Thailand’s Orapin Senatham in the finale, scoring a waza-ari after a throw early in the contest. Watanabe gained control of her opponent, pinning the latter to the mat to eventually win the match in just 37 seconds.

It was her third SEA Games gold medal, and it was also the Philippines’ 17th gold in the competition.

A day after her win, another star rose as 16-year-old Mariya Takahashi overcame great odds to give the country its 21st overall gold in the competition.

Takahashi stunned four-time SEA Games medalist Surratana Thongsri (Thailand) to win the women’s -70kg division. She secured a leg trip seconds into the contest. The young judoka then carefully transitioned to a pin to secure the win via ippon.

With this, the Philippine Judo Federation has big plans for the two as they are grooming them for the Olympics.

Poomsae: Rodolfo Reyes Jr.

To open his 2017 campaign, Rodolfo Reyes Jr., together with brothers Dustin Jacob and Enrico Raphael Mella, kept the SEA Games’ Men’s Team Poomsae crown in the country after a rousing performance in the finals.

The Southeast Asian Games reigning men’s team poomsae champions turned in 8.37 in the Taegeuk 8, but followed it up with an even more impressive 8.43 in Shipjin. That brought the final score to 8.40, 0.6 clear of hosts Malaysia.

The troika bagged the country’s 16th gold medal in the regional meet.

Reyes then flew from Malaysia to Turkmenistan for the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. He won silver in the Men’s Invidual event while copping bronze with the Mella brothers in the Men’s Team event.

Back as a student-athlete last November, he capped his spectacular UAAP career by helping send the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Jins back to the top of the collegiate taekwondo scene during the UAAP Season 80 Poomsae championships.

Brazilian Jiujitsu: Meggie Ochoa (-45kg)/Annie Ramirez (-49kg)

Jiu-jiteros Meggie Ochoa of Atos Philippines and Annie Ramirez of John Baylon Clube de Jiu Jitsu grabbed the sole two gold medals for the Philippines in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.

Ochoa won the first gold for the country in the 62-nation sportsfest following a convincing 5-0 victory over Vietnam’s Le Thu Trang Du in the women’s Ne-waza -45kg finals.

Ramirez followed Ochoa on the medal stands an hour later after defeating Jenna Kaila Napolis, 9-0, in the all-Filipino finale of the women’s Ne-waza -55kg category held at the Martial Arts Arena.

“I trained everyday coming in, except on Sundays. But the most important part of my preparation was fixing my mindset,” recalled Ochoa, a three-time world jiu-jitsu champion.

“I prepared the entire year for this and it paid off,” added the 26-year-old Ramirez, the reigning continental and Asian Beach Games champion.

With the gold rush in the upstart sport, the Philippines exceeded one-gold, two-bronze performance of the Philippines back in 2013.

And we have the two jiu-jieteros to thank for it.

Boxing: Jerwin Ancajas (Junior Bantamweight)

Reigning IBF Junior Bantamweight world champion Jerwin Ancajas (28-1-1, 19KO) is just one of two remaining world champions in the Philippines’ stable. With the way his 2017 went, it seems that he will be a world champion for a very long time.

The 25-year-old pugilist started the year by making his first successful defense of his crown by retiring José Alfredo Rodríguez at the Cotai Arena in Macau.

Fighting in the co-main event of the Battle of Brisbane, Ancajas was not fazed, scoring a seventh round TKO win over Teiru Kinoshita last July 2.

He capped his sensational year by taking over Ireland with a stoppage win over hometown favorite Jamie Conlan in the eighth round last November 18.

With this, the Davao del Norte-born southpaw is being dubbed as the next Manny Pacquiao. Still, he is remaining grounded as he always looks back to the time he was a struggling fighter.

“Lagi naman akong naghahanda talaga at hindi po ako nagpapabaya lalo na parang sakin po kasi, habang tumatagal na nagdedepensa, pabigat na ng pabigat ang mga laban.

“Ganun po yung ginagawa ko talaga, hindi ako nagkukumpyansa. Sa ensayo, ensayo talaga,” he furthered. “Kumbaga ito na yung daan na makilala kami, yung team namin na maipakita yung best sa laban.”

Ancajas will make his fourth title defense on February 3 against Israel Gonzalez.

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Bloodied Milan Melindo loses IBF crown in Japan

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ALA Promotions’ Milan Melindo could not end the year with a bang as “El Metodico” lost the International Boxing Federation World Junior Flyweight championship to World Boxing Association World Light Flyweight Champion Ryoichi Taguchi via unanimous decision, 117-111, 117-111, 116-112, Sunday evening at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.

Melindo (37-3, 13KOs) won the IBF crown last September 16 after taking a split decision against Hekkie Budler in Cebu. His reign lasted for 224 days.

The 29-year-old Filipino started strong, dominating the first two rounds even if Taguchi held the reach advantage. However, a headbutt in the third round resulted to a gash on his left eye that slowed him down.

With Melindo bothered by the cut, the WBA champion went on to focus on the prone body of Melindo. Moreover, he used his range to keep Melindo at bay with stinging jabs.

Needing the points, Melindo found his second wind in the ninth round, landing body shots of his own.

The final three frames turned into a slugfest that was capped by a scintillating 12th round. By then, Melindo needed a finish to unify the two crowns. Taguchi though did not back down as the two went for broke to close out the fight.

Taguchi (27-2-2, 12KOs) took advantage of this in the middle rounds.

With the loss of the IBF Junior Flyweight strap, the only Filipino world champions remaining are Donnie Nietes and Jerwin Ancajas.

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Bob Arum sees Jerwin Ancajas as the ‘next Manny Pacquiao’

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What a day it has been for IBF World Junior Bantamweight Champion Jerwin Ancajas.

On a day that saw him make courtesy calls to President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Manny Pacquiao, Top Rank Promotions chief executive officer Bob Arum revealed that the 25-year-old is set to sign with his company.

The veteran promoter revealed the news to Boxing Scene’s Steve Kim Wednesday morning.

“He is going to become a Top Rank fighter,” Bob Arum told Boxing Scene. “We’re going to fight him at least three or four times a year.

“We call him the ‘next Manny Pacquiao.'”

Ancajas (28-1-1, 19KOs) defeated McJoe Arroyo for the world title back in September of 2016. Since then, he has defended his crown three times, with the most recent coming via a TKO of Jamike Conlan last November 18 in Belfast, Ireland.

Throughout his journey to the top, he was affiliated with MP Productions and he will continue to do so as the deal between Pacquiao’s camp and Arum’s will be to co-promote the native of Cavite City.

Later in the day, Ancajas, together with stablemate Mark Barriga and coach Joven Jimenez, made a courtesy call to the president.

“Nakakatuwa at na-meet namin si Presidente,” said Ancajas.

“Nakikita na rin namin siya dati sa Davao, pero iba pa rin po nung nameet namin siya na presidente na siya.”

Ancajas is set to face Israel Gonzalez (21-1) on February 3, 2018 at the Bank of America Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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