Diaspora Feature Story

Pinoy vs Pinoy fights fail to excite fans

By Abner Galino

Nietes and Palicte exchange blows during their fight last week at the The Forum in Inglewood, California. Photo by Jhay Otamias

BOXING fans are probably the most uninhibited of all sports fans. And when fights were boring, they certainly knew the things to shout away to unshackle themselves from the humdrum.

That’s just what exactly happened last September 8 at “The Forum” in Inglewood, California.

That Saturday had been touted for its historic significance for Philippine boxing fans and as well as for the anticipated explosive duel between Donnie “Ahas” Nietes and Aston “Mighty” Palicte for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight division crown.

Nietes and Palicte both fought skillfully but no bomb exploded. The boxing fans filled up the void.

Inadvertently, the judges provided the meat for some post-game excitements by ruling that the Nietes-Palicte fight was a “split draw.”

All the excitements were confined to the verbal assaults that went the way of the two of the five judges who were deemed to have erred in their scoring of the Nietes-Palicte match up.

I couldn’t blame them, particularly the Filipino scribes, as the decision indeed robbed Nietes of what should have been another world title in a fourth weight class.

It would have been another world record for Nietes (41-1-5, 23 KO) who used to be world champion in the 105 lbs., 108 lbs., and 112 lbs. divisions.

The same can be said of Palicte, who also holds an impressive record of 24-2-1 (win-loss-draw), and who told the media during a pre-fight conference that he was dedicating the fight to a son who was then celebrating a birthday —and fittingly, because that would have been his first world crown.

Why the Nietes-Palicte fight turned out to be a dud is beyond me.

The average punches thrown in a boxing match is said to range from 500 to 600 punches on a 12-rounder. The computers counted about the same numbers of punches for both Nietes and Palicte — which indicated that while the Filipino fighters didn’t hold back, they apparently missed their targets a lot.

Interestingly, fans also observed dull moments during another championship fight between Filipino fighters last May 26 in Fresno, California.

The fight between two Filipino fighters who were both known to possess aggressive boxing styles, International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and Jonas Sultan, also failed to explode the fireworks when on top of the ring.

Of course, it would be unfair to say that that was deliberate.

On other hand, there is this nagging desire to find out what went really wrong on both well-publicized fights between these world-class Filipino boxers.

Back home, Filipino boxers fight exciting fights against one another. Otherwise, boxing wouldn’t have came up as the country’s most loved sports next to basketball.

But why such kind of match ups turned out to be duds when played in international boxing arenas?

I guess there are many, particularly here in Los Angeles, who want that mystery figured out.

But setting this aside, the bout between Nietes and Palicte was one for the Philippine boxing history books. The same goes for the match up between Ancajas and Sultan that was fought in Fresno.

Exactly 93 years ago was the last time that two Filipino fighters fought against each other for a world title belt. It was fought between the legendary boxer Francisco “Pancho Villa” Guilledo and Clever Sencio.

That fight happened in Manila and was won by “Pancho Villa,” who had held the world flyweight title for two years prior to that bout against a compatriot.

Of course, we have reasons to celebrate.


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Abner Galino
The author is a poet and a writer. He was a cultural worker before he became a reporter for Tinig ng Masa and Malaya Midday Edition during the Marcos regime. He later became a reporter of People's Tonight shortly after 1986 EDSA Revolution. He went on to become its Chief of Reporters, City Editor and News Editor. He retired after 15 years in the Journal Group of Publications. He now writes for Weekend Balita and the US Asian Post (USAP), weekly Filipino-American newspapers based in Los Angeles, California.

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