MANILA, Philippines – The stage is set for ONE Championship’s year-end event dubbed “Spirit of Champions” tomorrow night as 16 fighters made weight during the official weigh-in at SM Mall of Asia’s Music Hall in Pasay City.
All eyes are on the headlining bout as Filipino-American fighter Brandon Vera faces short-notice replacement Paul Cheng in a 5-round contest for the inaugural ONE heavyweight championship.
Vera tipped the scales at 247.5 pounds, while Cheng checked in at 250 pounds to receive the green light for Friday night’s main attraction.
The 38-year-old Vera was supposed to square off with British kickboxer Chi Lewis Parry, who was removed from the bout after failing to submit his medical results and drug tests as well as deciding not to board the plane departing from London to Manila on Tuesday, December 8.
Cheng stepped in to take Parry’s spot to dance with Vera inside the ONE cage for the available heavyweight belt.
“Big ups to Paul Cheng for taking this fight on short notice. It takes a warrior-mentality and a lot of guts to step inside the cage, especially against a guy like me, but we put it all on the line for the fans. This fight means a lot to me, my family and my country, and I will do everything in my power to bring home the belt. I’m ready as I’ll ever be,” Vera said.
Fast-rising star Mark Striegl was also cleared to compete as he came in at 134.4 pounds for his 3-round match against Australian combatant Recce McLaren, who weighed 134 pounds.
Meanwhile, former boxing world champion Ana Julaton did not have difficulties making weight as she exactly weighed 125 pounds for her flyweight showdown versus Russia’s Irina Mazepa, who came in at 124 pounds.
Aside from the three aforementioned Fil-Am competitors, two other homegrown talents will represent the Philippines at ONE: Spirit of Champions, which takes place at the 20,000-capacity SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City
Ruel Catalan (123.5 lbs) battles Brazilian flyweight Alex Silva (124 lbs), while Eugene Toquero (125 lbs) locks horns with Chinese combatant Li Wei Bin (124.5 lbs).
On the other hand, the flyweight match between Filipino fighter Geje Eustaquio and China’s Yang Jian Bing has been scrapped from the fight card as Yang did not meet the allowable flyweight limit of 126 pounds. – Rappler.com
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