The 16th annual Gabriel “Flash” Elorde Boxing Awards was a night were Philippine boxing’s best and finest gathered at the Grand Ballroom of Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila City. Moreover, what made the night more special was the night’s guest of honor: World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman was on hand to see what Philippine boxing has become.
To open the night, as per tradition, was the “Boxing Kontra Droga” event. The fight against substance abuse has been an advocacy of the Elorde family throughout the years.
In the opening fights of the night, Raymond Dela Cruz (0-4-2) and Raymond Yanong (6-1-1) opened the night with a four-round majority draw (39-37, 38-38, 38-38) while in lightweight action, Philippine-based Japanese fighter Kenta Ide (4-2-1) soundly defeated Gebby Manago (0-4) after a huge body shot for a KO victory in the 2:31 mark of the third round.
Promoter Johnny Elorde’s brightest prospect Giemel “Pistolero” Magramo showed why he is a world-ranked flyweight in dismantling John Bajawa (11-14). Magramo showed off all of his arsenal before ending the match in the fourth round with a huge uppercut to set-up lighning quick jabs. Bajawa did not even attempt to stand on his stool after the break for Pistolero’s 16th straight victory.
In the last two bouts of the evening prior to the awarding, the grandsons of the late, great Gabriel “Flash” Elorde took to the ring to honor their family.
29 year old “The Boss” Juan Miguel Elorde (21-1) successfully defended his WBO Asia Pacific super bantamweight title in a lopsided decision win over Indonesian Waldo Sabu (7-4). Scores were 100-90, 100-91, 99-91.
In the main event though, Juan Martin “Bai” Elorde (20-1-1) and Musa Letding (10-5-4) figured in a tough tilt for the vacant WBO Oriental lightweight title. The 31 year old “Bai” Elorde had a tough time closing in on southpaw Letding all throughout the fight. However, outside of the fourth and seventh rounds, the elder Elorde was the more aggressive fighter. Moreover, when the Indonesian turned it up, Bai was able to counter with stinging jabs to stop Letding from his tracks. Elorde was able to take a decision victory, 98-92 across the boards, to win the WBO Oriental lightweight crown.
Then, the festivities for the 16th Annual Elorde Awards commenced.
In his keynote address, World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman admitted that the rich boxing tradition of the Philippines never seizes to surprise him. “It’s beautiful. The Philippines is such a boxing country. There’s so much interest, so much energy. It’s such a beautiful boxing country,” he opened. “Boxing in the Philippines is a national sport.”
“It is because of the great era that Flash Elorde began. Elorde showed the world what Philippine boxing is.”
In one of the most heartwarming moments of the night, the Mexican president of the biggest sanctioning body of boxing in the world admitted that Mexicans and Filipinos shared the warrior’s tradition the Latinos are known for. “The Mexicans and the Filipinos are much alike. We were a colony of the Spaniards and share the same Latino warrior spirit,” he closed to the warm applause of the audience on hand.
Local boxers from the amateur and professional boxing ranks were then honored highlighted by WBA interim junior flyweight titleholder Randy Petalcorin (23-1-1, 18KOs) and IBO junior flyweight titleholder Rey Loreto (21-13, 13 KOs) crowned as Boxers of the Year. ALA Boxing’s Mark Magsayo and Jonathan Taconing were also crowned as the co-Most Promising Boxers of the Year while Nonito Donaire Sr. won the Trainer of the Year award.
ALA Promotions President Michael Aldeguer was also given the Lope “Papa” Sarreal Achievement Award. The feat Aldeguer set was winning the Promoter of the Year award for the last seven years. “This is a collective effort coming from everyone,” a humbled Aldeguer told Tiebreaker Times. “Without the people from our offices, the trainers, the fighters, and even the media, this would not be possible.” His program “Pinoy Pride” was also given a special citation award.
To cap the night, the fists of Philippine boxing’s past and present were plastered and, after two weeks, be glazed in gold and displayed at the soon-to-be-built Elorde Hall of Fame in Paranaque City.
Rolando Navarette (WBC super featherweight), Rene Barrientos (WBC super featherweight), Erbito Salavarria (WBC flyweight) and Ronnie Magramo (WBF minimumweight), and world light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes were the first class of the Elorde Casting of the Fists.
Truly, it was a magical night for, not only the Philippine boxing scene, Philippine sports that would have made Gabriel “Flash” Elorde proud.
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