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Omega Promotions to hold first PH boxing event in pandemic

For the first time in the country, Cebu-based Omega Sports Promotions will hold a groundbreaking “bubble” boxing card on Oct. 7 inside the International Pharmaceuticals Inc. compound in Mandaue City, Cebu.

“We are honored and privileged to be holding this historic boxing card in Cebu. It is a challenge but we are looking forward to it,” said Omega Sports Promotions chief Jerome Calatrava Tuesday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) online forum.

Sanctioned by the Games and Amusements Board led by chairman Baham Mitra, the pro ring program is the first to be held nationwide since government authorities locked down virtually the entire country in mid-March to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in the suspension of all sports events.

Known for his alias “Joe Romeo” as a disc jockey on the side, Calatrava bared the four matches and the boxers involved in the keenly-anticipated event during the session supported by San Miguel Corp. PAGCOR , Milo, Go for Gold, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, powered by Smart and with Upstream Media as webcast partner.

Omega’s Ronnie Vecilles and Baguio’s Junel Lacar collide in a light-flyweight (108-pound) clash in 10 rounds, while stablemate Christian Araneta takes on Richard Rosales of Bohol also in a 10-round light-flyweight match.

Omega’s Penitente Apolinar tackles Cagayan de Oro’s Jetro Pabustan in a featherweight (126-pound) bout in the third 10-rounder, while stable partner Carlo Bacaro tangles with fellow Cebuano Jeffrey Stella in a light-welterweight (140-pound) encounter set for six rounds.

Vecilles is the reigning World Boxing Association South light-flyweight champion and is ranked No. 10 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) ratings, while Araneta was an ex-WBC Asia silver champion in the light-flyweight division, according to Calatrava.

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“All the boxers are excited and itching to fight. The excitement cannot be described, including the opponents of our boxers,” said Calatrava, whose promotions outfit led by Paul Jake Castillo has been around since the nineties.

Among the products of the Omega stable, he said are World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight John Riel Casimiro, who successfully defended his crown in the US last weekend, and world title contender Jhack Tepora.

“We would like to also thank GAB chairman Mitra’s backing in staging this event,” added the promoter, who stressed that they had to strictly comply with the quarantine protocols laid down by GAB for the fights to push through.

Calatrava revealed all of the boxers and personnel involved in the card underwent rapid tests and have moved to live within the IPI compound in Mandaue City, and would undergo swab test two days before the date of the boxing program.

“We will have about 50 people involved, including the boxers, crew, and the one referee we hired for the event that will be held in closed doors with GAB officials watching,” he said. “We will then play the video of the event on our Facebook page Omega Boxing Gym on a delayed basis.”

He also cited IPI president Castillo, an avid boxing enthusiast, for his all-out support of the event amidst the virus crisis.

“We in Omega Sports Promotions are passionate about the sport and would want to give our pro boxers a lift so we can hopefully produce world boxing champions and contenders once again in the future,” Calatrava said.

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