By Joe Koizumi
The 55th OPBF (Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation) Convention was successfully held with more than three hundred attendants among member countries thanks to the OPBF president Abraham Mitla’s excellent leadership and warm hospitality last week (November 9 through 12) in Palawan, Philippines. Puerto Princesa, the capital of Palawan, is a famous resort place with many foreign people to enjoy their vacation, but boxing people were so hard workers that they diligently engaged in tight but useful sessions.
On the first day, many attendants moved to a shopping mall where the weigh-in took place for the boxing show in commemoration of the OPBF Convention on Friday. In the afternoon the OPBF president and GAB (Games and Amusements Board, the commission under the Philippine government) chairman Mitla administered various schedule so well that people appreciated nice speeches of local VIPs including the Palawan mayor and enjoyable songs/dances to our satisfaction.
The second day saw veteran US judge Hubert Minn from Hawaii give informative lessons to approximately one hundred officials (referees and judges) to improve their understanding of the scoring standard. Also, veteran US referee residing in the Philippines, Gen Del Bianco conducted fruitful and sometimes humorous lectures on refereeing by utilizing well-prepared footages.
On Friday night, we witnessed hot action in the commemorative show at the City Coliseum, featuring five title bouts to entertain the audience including all the OPBF conventionists. The results were as follows:
Only once-beaten southpaw prospect Carlo “Cesar” Penalosa, 112, acquired the vacant WBO ABCO (Asian Boxing Council) flyweight belt by earning a split decision (96-94 twice, 94-96) over busy-stalking Salatiel Amit, 112, over a see-saw tenner. Carlo, the nephew of former world champ Gerry Penalosa (conqueror of Hiroshi Kawashima and Jhonny Gonzalez), improved his mark to 11-1, 3 KOs, but he needs more aggressiveness rather than slick counterpunching.
Busy-punching Filipino southpaw Jelbirt Gomera seized the interim OPBF featherweight belt when he dropped unbeaten hard-punching Venezuelan Omri Bolivar twice and halted him at 1:33 of the fifth round. Gomera withstood Bolivar’s opening attack in the first, and dominated the contest thereafter and finally sank the retreating opponent with a vicious left hook to the side of the belly twice. Gomera bettered his credentials to 14-4, 7 KOs, while Bolivar impaired to 5-1, 3 KOs.
Filipino Jerronil Borres was awarded the ABF (Asia Boxing Federation) flyweight belt by a majority nod (96-94 twice, 95-95) over game but less accurate southpaw Robert Onggocan over ten. It’s a close affair though Borres, 8-3-1, 5 KOs, was fortunately awarded the new belt of the newly established regional organization by Naris Singwangcha of Thailand.
Non-stop punching Japanese girl Erika Hanawa, 8-1, 3 KOs, gained the interim OPBF female 105-pound belt, stopping Thailand’s Sornsawan Khunmarn at 1:07 of the third round in a scheduled eight.
Yuka Henzan of Japan and Phannaluk Kongsang of Thailand hammered out a split draw (77-75, 75-77, 76-76) over hard-fought eight with the OPBF female bantamweight belt at stake.
Unbeaten Filipino Ryan James Racaza, 8-0, 5 KOs, halted compatriot Junar Adante at 2:42 of the fourth session of a curtain raiser.
The president Mitla proudly presented citations to people that contributed to the OPBF development in the ring. The OPBF presidency, based on the ABC rotation system, should move to Korea next year and then Japan, but the Korean boxing fraternity is under confusion with such proliferation of numerous domestic governing bodies such as KBC, KBA, KBF, KBM, and KPBF (Korea Professional Boxing Federation). If so, this reporter suggests the new OPBF president Mitla’s administration may extend its term for another year since he showed his ability to draw the government’s financial supports like this time. It was fortunate that we could end the convention before US president Donald Trump arrived in Manila to participate in the ASEAN conference for us to avert too strict investigation and congestion at the airports in the Philippines. It was Mitla that showed such fine traffic regulations. Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much).