PH boxers’ woes

THERE were two clear instances this past week where individuals mandated to look after the interest of Filipino boxers – both amateur and professional – failed miserably to do their job.

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richie Garcia effectively set back the training of our boxers, who form an integral part of our national pool trying desperately to pursue the quest for our first Olympic gold medal by his failure to secure the approval of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the release of the boxers recalled to their various military units when their Detailed Service permits lapsed last June 30.

The boxers obviously need time to train for the Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand which opens on Aug. 25 and serves as a qualifier for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October.

By his abject failure to request the various AFP units to release the fighters well before the deadline lapsed for renewal of their Detailed Service permits, resulting in the boxers being recalled to their mother units following a highly successful stint in the last Southeast Asian Games in Singapore when the Philippines emerged as champions with a haul of 5 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals, Garcia displayed his inefficiency at the very least.

The agreement on the DS permits was entered into by the PSC and the Defense Department, with the Amateur Boxing Alliance of the Philippines or ABAP headed by Ricky Vargas and back-stopped with remarkable passion and commitment by executive director Ed Picson, effectively sidelined,  although both Vargas and Picson pleaded with Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin to release the boxers and their trainers so they could get back into training camp since time was running out.

There is no way a boxer can train for a highly competitive meet in one month and they certainly won’t get into condition by performing sentry duties and other odd jobs.

Picson sounded helpless when he told us “we have no team in the Asian Championships (as of Wednesday) because we don’t have a chance to evaluate our boxers.”

The AFP is an institution that adheres to protocol, unlike Garcia who apparently couldn’t care less as long as he can get in his regular round of golf. This callous attitude explains the disastrous state of Philippine sports.

Internationally, Sampson Lewkowicz, who co-promotes former International Boxing Federation light flyweight champion and current No.1 Johnreil Casimero, along with Filipino promoter Sammy Gello-ani, issued a press release in which he said that despite the injustice done to “my fighter” Casimero,  when he was a blatant victim of an ugly, foul-filled hometown decision  against champion Amnat Ruenroeng in Thailand, which is notorious for such travesties, he was shelving the obvious right to a rematch in favor of a better opportunity to face McWilliams Arroyo of Puerto Rico in another title eliminator. This raised the question, which we ourselves asked IBF president Darryl Peoples in Macau, as to how many eliminators must Casimero get through to earn his rightful opportunity, even as we pushed for Casimero’s right to a rematch based on the scandalous performance of referee Larry Doggett, who we insisted should be fired.

What Lewkowicz failed to mention which we raised with Peoples was that he also handles Ruenroeng, which meant he was in a win-win situation. How nice!

Lewkowicz said he will “not pursue an immediate rematch against the IBF flyweight title holder but will instead look for a more lucrative match against McWillliams Arroyo,” referring to it as the “business-wise career path!” Obvious question, for the fighter or the promoter?

He claimed, as did his Filipino partner Sammy Gello-ani, that they were offered another fight in Thailand to make up for the fiasco that occurred in the last fight and posed the question “what’s to stop it from happening a second time?,” recalling that McWilliams Arroyo was “also a victim of a questionable decision against Ruenroeng last year.”

If Lewkowicz is the influential promoter he is believed to be, surely he could have taken his case to the IBF and demanded a rematch outside Thailand. The world witnessed the travesty and there is no way the IBF could justify not acceding to the request.

Lewkowicz  said the winner  of the Casimero-Arroyo bout “will then look at a rematch with Ruenroeng on neutral ground in the US early next year,” little realizing that Casimero, no matter how much we believe in his ability, could conceivably lose. What then?

“Sometimes, putting your frustration and disappointment away for a better time makes more sense for the fighter’s career and this is what we are choosing in this case,” said Lewkowicz, even as he expressed confidence that Johnreil “will get his justice eventually and he will get a huge opportunity to face Puerto Rico’s Arroyo. Out of a bad situation will come two of his biggest victories.”

When we pointed out to Gello-ani that McWilliams Arroyo scored a second-round TKO over previously undefeated Froilan “Sniper” Saludar – one of their fighters in a title eliminator in Puerto Rico on June 19, 2014,  he insisted “Casimero is not Saludar. He is a much better fighter and has fought and beaten tougher opponents abroad.”

The record shows that justice in professional boxing is a myth!

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