Fantasy fighters - 14 boxing matches that could or should happen in 2014
By REY DE GUZMAN
2013 was not the best of years for Philippine boxing. Manny Pacquiao stayed dormant until December, while Nonito Donaire and Brian Viloria both lost their world titles after decision losses. Following Pacquiao’s knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez late in 2012, Philippine boxing fell into a slump. However, the Filipino ring icon’s recent win over Brandon Rios was like a breath of fresh air, creating the hope that others will follow Pacman’s lead once again.
Here are 14 fights potential fights featuring Filipino pugilists, repeat, these are not real fights…yet, that would make 2014 a year to remember:
There's unfinished business between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. Steve Marcus / Reuters
1. Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) versus Timothy Bradley (31-0-0, 12 KOs)
One and a half years after their highly controversial battle, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley have found themselves in each other’s path anew. In their first encounter, Pacquiao lost his WBO welterweight title via split decision, a verdict that was highly unpopular among boxing observers. Both fighters then tangled with Juan Manuel Marquez with differing results. Now, Pacquiao needs a dance partner for his April fight, while Bradley wants a shot at proving he deserved to win. This fight needs to happen for both boxers.
2. Manny Pacquiao (55-5-2, 38 KOs) versus Floyd Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 KOs)
This fight has been on the wish list of not just Filipino, but all boxing fans since 2010. There are still impediments preventing the fight from happening, but other options have dwindled for both fighters. Yes, Pacquiao has unfinished business with Bradley but who else could he fight after that? Floyd Mayweather on the other hand is trying to convince himself that Amir Khan and Marcos Maidana are both good opponents when the reality is that he will only generate a lot of interest if he moves up north to the middleweight division to take on either Sergio Martinez or Gennady Golovkin, which might be asking too much for the undefeated welterweight and super welterweight world champion.
3. Nonito Donaire (33-2-0, 21 KOs) versus Guillermo Rigondeaux (13-0-0, 8 KOs)
Nonito Donaire needs to prove that his heart is still with the sport of boxing. After losing to Guillermo Rigondeaux, Donaire bounced back with a technical knockout win over Vic Darchinyan but he was losing on the cards when the fight was halted. Donaire’s talent is still world class, but he needs a win over the Cuban to prove that he still belongs in the list of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
4. Nonito Donaire (33-2-0, 21 KOs) versus Orlando Salido (40-12-2, 28 KOs)
If Donaire can’t accommodate Rigondeaux’s demand of a rematch at the super bantamweight division, he should just aim for another title at 126 pounds. The Filipino Flash has won titles at the flyweight, super flyweight, bantamweight, and super bantamweight divisions, so he should now gun for a title in his fifth division (or fourth depending on how you judge his interim super flyweight title). The best option for Donaire is to fight the veteran Orlando Salido of Mexico who holds the WBO featherweight title. Although Salido is a tough fighter, he looks like he’s ripe for the picking.
5. Brian Viloria (32-4-0, 19 KOs) versus Juan Francisco Estrada (25-2-0, 18 KOs)
After losing his unified WBA and WBO flyweight titles against Juan Francisco Estrada last April, Brian Viloria took another break from boxing. Any other match should be far from Viloria’s mind as this is really the only one that makes sense for him. He was winning the early rounds against Estrada but he fizzled in the second part of the fight. Viloria needs to re-dedicate himself to the sport of boxing again if he wants to defeat the much younger champion.
6. Donnie Nietes (32-1-4, 18 KOs) versus Moises Fuentes (19-1-1, 10 KOs)
Even before his last fight against Sammy Gutierez, Donnie Nietes already said that he wanted to fight Moises Fuentes again. In their first match, Fuentes surprised everyone, giving Nietes all he could handle. The bout was ruled a draw but many fans thought Fuentes
deserved the nod. Nietes needs to fight the Mexican again to prove that he deserves to be called the WBO light flyweight champion.
7. Merlito Sabillo (23-0-1, 12 KOs) versus Carlos Buitrago (27-0-1, 16 KOs)
These two undefeated fighters battled in Manila for Merlito Sabillo’s WBO minimumweight title. Carlos Buitrago, the challenger from Managua, Nicaragua gave a very good account of himself, fighting valiantly against an over-eager Sabillo. The Filipino fighter was feeling the pressure all night long, both from his opponent and the situation. He
has never fought on a venue as hallowed as the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, so he over-exerted himself by going purely for a knockout instead of boxing. Buitrago landed more but Sabillo also scored some good punches. In the end, the defending champion kept his title with a
draw. The two also retained their undefeated records and a rematch should be the next fight for both.
8. John Riel Casimero (19-2-0, 11 KOs) versus Roman Gonzales (37-0-0, 31 KOs)
Here’s an idea: the Sabillo-Buitrago rematch as the supporting main event for a John Riel Casimero versus Roman Gonzales battle to unify the WBA and IBF world titles in a Philippines versus Nicaragua fight card. This won’t be a boxing match. It will be an all-out war between two fighters who do not like going the distance. Both Casimero and Gonzales throw their punches with evil intentions and with the Filipino’s willingness to fight anywhere in the world, this fight should not be hard to make.
9. Rey Bautista (34-3-0, 25 KOs) versus Bernabe Concepcion (32-6-1, 18 KOs)
Rey Bautista and Bernabe Concepcion were some of the brightest prospects in Philippine boxing. Years ago, they were picked as the ones who would carry the torch for Philippine boxing after Pacquiao retired. It hasn’t worked out quite as planned for both guys though, as they are a combined 0-3 in world title fights with Bautista losing to Daniel Ponce De Leon and Concepcion bowing to Steven Luevano and Juan Manuel Lopez. With that said, a fight between the two should totally happen. They are no longer prospects that need to be built up. At this point in their careers, they need to stop fighting foreign opponents and just fight each other. This fight will tell the public who’s done and who still has a chance.
10. Milan Melindo (30-1-0, 12 KOs) versus Brian Viloria (32-4-0, 19 KOs)
Back in 2011, Milan Melindo showed up to watch Viloria’s fight against Giovani Segura. Most people there thought that Melindo was angling for a title shot against Segura as his camp sensed Viloria would lose his title. Melindo was then the mandatory challenger for the WBO flyweight belt. Viloria went on to win that fight but he lost his titles to Estrada. Melindo quickly swooped in to challenge the new champion bet he too fell short.
Also, wouldn’t you watch a fight card with Concepcion-Bautista as support for a Viloria-Melindo main event?
11. Michael Farenas (37-4-4, 29 KOs) versus Mikey Garcia (33-0-0, 28 KOs)
Gerry Penalosa already said that Top Rank Promotions boss Bob Arum has signified that he wanted to arrange a match between Michael Farenas and WBO super featherweight champion Mikey Garcia. Both are power punchers with Garcia holding an edge in technical ability. Farenas is not getting any younger and he needs to take on the biggest challenges right now. If an offer to fight Garcia comes, Farenas should sign it in a heartbeat.
12. Denver Cuello (33-5-6, 21 KOs) versus Xiong Zhao Zong (22-4-1, 12 KOs)
The last time Denver Cuello fought WBC minimumweight champion Xiong Zhao Zong of China, the Filipino was a one-armed fighter as he suffered a torn shoulder. After being given the run-around, Cuello bit the bullet against Zong, accepting the fight even if he was injured. The result was a majority decision loss for Cuello but the outcome should be a lot different in a rematch.
13. Jun Doliguez (18-0-2, 14 KOs) versus Evgeny Gradovich (18-0-0, 9 KOs)
Featherweight Jun Doliguez really close to a world title shot. The fighter who comes from Elmer Anuran’s stable in Batangas will head back to the United States for a couple of more fights and if plans don’t miscarry, he should fight for a world title this year. Evgeny Gradovich, the reigning IBF featherweight champion, should be a tough opponent for Doliguez but his punching power could give Robert Garcia’s student some trouble.
14. Richard Pumicpic (14-5-2, 4 KOs) versus Ryosuke Iwasa (16-1-0, 10 KOs)
Richard Pumicpic is one of the better up and coming fighters in the Philippines. His record may not be as clean as some people want it to be but this is because the young fighters has faced the toughest opposition locally. He is the number one challenger in the OPBF’s bantamweight division and a fight against reigning champion Ryosuke Iwasa should top his wish list. Not only will Pumicpic get the OPBF belt if he wins against Iwasa, he’ll also move up the rankings as the Japanese fighter is the number one contender for the WBC belt. - AMD, GMA News