The Philippines and its world-class boxing

By Mauricio Sulaimán
President of the WBC – Son of José Sulaimán

I had the great honor of being invited by Manny Pacquiao and the Elorde family, to be the speaker at the first edition of the annual Philippine boxing awards, called: Paquiao/Elorde Annual Awards,

This is following the 23-year tradition established by the family of the legendary world champion, Gabriel Flash Elorde, but this year they incorporated Manny due to his illustrious boxing career.

From the moment I arrived in Manila, I encountered smiles, kindness and hospitality very similar to that in Mexico.

I visited the downtown of the city called Intramuros, because it is like a walled city, and to my great surprise, I found a statue of former Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos, and a sculpture that commemorates the relationship with Acapulco, since for 300 years there was an important commercial link. The best of barter!

The ceremony at Flash Elorde’s grave was very emotional, where I alongside two legendary champions Erbito Salavarria and Rolando Navarrete placed flowers, and afterwards, we enjoyed a meal with the family of the late Great forever remembered champion.

The Philippines was one of the eleven founding countries of the World Boxing Council (WBC), in 1963; Justiniano Montano was the third President of our organization, and in the 61 years of our existence, we have had the president of the National Federation as a member of the Governing Board.

This nation has produced 47 world champions, 15 from the WBC, and all of them of outstanding quality, inspired plus led by Elorde and Pacquiao, and also Nonito Donaire and Luisito Espinoza, among other supreme boxers.

I spent countless hours at Manny’s side, and it was only now that I realized his sincere simplicity as well as open-hearted generosity and heartfelt kindness. He never denies an autograph or a photo, even when he is overwhelmed by crowds wherever he appears. He also dedicates his life to the service of others, giving humanitarian aid in a large number of charities. All this for more than 20 years.

Manny is one of the greatest. The only one to win world titles in eight different weight categories. He began his reign with the WBC flyweight title, and also ended it with the WBC super welterweight title, when he defeated Antonio Margarito at the Cowboys Stadium.

He was known as the executioner of the Mexicans, with dazzling victories over Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Juan Manuel Márquez, Óscar Larios, Antonio Margarito and Jorge Solís, among others.

We made a series of very interesting agreements; This 2024 we are going to organize a dual meet, between Mexico and the Philippines, to bring a group of national fighters in June to compete against the very best Filipinos and then at the end of the year, they are invited to our country. We will also have a big celebration in October 2025, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the most important fights in history, the third between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, known as Thrilla in Manila, promoted by the legendary Don King and Bob Arum , which is remembered and revered as one of the most spectacular.

Ali successfully defended his WBC world championship, by technical knockout, in 14 rounds. Muhammad was exhausted, and asked his corner to stop the fight after the bell tolled.But Angelo Dundee begged him to hold fire and he would stop the fight, but not with him sitting on the stool. Ali accepted, but just seconds later, Frazier’s corner threw in the towel, and Muhammad had won.

This past weekend there were tremendous fights around the world. The Argentine Yamil Peralta traveled to South Africa to defeat the local Thabiso Mchunu by split decision, and in Rome, Japanese Masanori Rikiishi, who was down on all three judges’ scorecards by more than four points, mustered a fierce attack and knocked out the then silver super featherweight champion, Michael Magnesi.

The WBC rule of releasing the judges’ official scores after the fourth and eighth rounds worked perfectly, and achieved the goal of making dramatic finishes for the fans. In England, the Mexican José Chon Zepeda was knocked out by a monumental body shot from the Englishman, Dalton Smith, who won the WBC super lightweight silver belt.

Did you know…?

Manny Pacquiao won the first WBC diamond belt, when he knocked out the great champion Miguel Cotto in Las Vegas.

Today’s anecdote

We were in Guadalajara for the WBC light fly world title fight between the Filipino monarch Rodel Mayol and the Mexican Omar Niño. A great close fight from bell to bell; The instant replay rule introduced by the WBC was just beginning.

In the fourth round, Niño delivered a low blow, and Mayol complained about it, lowered his guard and turned to Referee Vic Drakulich, from Las Vegas, who immediately advanced towards them, and shouted: “stop”, but Niño was already on his way with a left hook, which connected with the Filipino, who was knocked out.

The fans went crazy, celebrating the evident knockout from the Guadalajara fighter, but the Referee determined that the blow had been illegal, as he shouted for the actions to stop, and proceeded to disqualify Niño.

My dad, with his calmness that prevailed, called upon the Referee to review the actions on the monitor provided by Televisa, and justice was done, when he saw how Niño had already started the blow prior to the Referee’s instruction, so this was a accidental foul, and a “no contest” was decided. Therefore, a direct rematch was ordered. Months later, Niño won the title by defeating Mayol, in San Juan del Río, Querétaro.

I appreciate your comments at [email protected]

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