By Nick Giongco
Filipino challenger Ernesto Saulong is upbeat about his chances of dethroning Japanese champion Ryosuke Iwasa in their International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-bantamweight title showdown on March 1 in Tokyo.
Fighting under the stable of Laguna businessman Ariel Araja and trained by fast-rising cornerman Joven Jimenez, Saulong, ranked 13th, believes he can score an upset and silence the crowd at the fabled Kokugikan Sumo Arena, the same site where Gerry Penalosa had captured a world title 21 years ago.
“We’ve been carefully studying Iwasa’a fights on video,” said Saulong (21-2-1 with eight KOs) in Pilipino from the Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite.
The left-handed Iwasa (24-2 with 16 KOs), also 28 years old like his Filipino foe, will be making the first title defense.
“His left straight is his best punch,” said Saulong, who comes from the province of Occidental Mindoro.
“We would like to see Iwasa engage Ernesto because he is a stylist while our fighter is a slugger,” said Araja.
“Ernesto’s right on track,” said Jimenez, who welcomed Saulong with open arms several weeks ago.