Giovanni Escaner retains PH bantam title at Pride of Bohol

JR Isaga
Giovanni Escaner retains PH bantam title at Pride of Bohol
Emptying his clips in the final round, Giovanni Escaner scores a split decision win over Renoel Pael as Filipino undercard fighters up the ante



BOHOL, Philippines – With all the attention drawn to Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo at Pride of Bohol, undercard fighters at Tagbilaran City had to up the ante for themselves, and they did just that.

In the penultimate fight of the seven-match card on Saturday, August 31, Giovanni Escaner (20-4, 12 KO) retained the Philippine bantamweight championship with a split decision win over Renoel Pael.

Both fighters measured each other very well in the first 3 rounds, with no man budging nor gaining ground. With every advance Escaner made, Pael quickly responded with a flurry of jabs and hooks.

Escaner then traded quality for quantity by the 6th as he let the punches rain, but without much luck. Pael simply got back with a single solid right to Escaner’s jaw with 1:49 left and regained control by the end of the round.

Pael then built on his lead in the latter rounds by roundly outboxing the increasingly desperate Escaner. After 11 grind-out rounds, both fighters decided to throw caution to the wind and emptied their clips at each other in the final round with blinding combinations that sent the Boholano crowd to a frenzy. 

Apparently, this was enough to swing two judges to vote in favor of the champion’s title retention bid.

Punching masterclass

Prior to Escaner’s win, Virgel Vitor (15-2, 9 KO) put on a punching masterclass as he pummeled a hapless Alan Alberca (11-4, 6 KO) to a 4th-round knockout finish.

Vitor flexed his dominance early in the 1st round as he knocked down Alberca with a hard left hook with 1:40 left. He then followed this up in the following round with a quick two-hook combo at the 2:20 mark and another at the very end of the 3rd. 

The fight script did not change one bit in the 4th round as Vitor finally put Alberca out of his misery with one last knockdown at the 1:49 mark. 

In one of the earlier bouts, knockout artist Danrick Sumabong (10-2, 8 KO) survived a very game Jonathan Francisco (10-12-1, 4 KO) via split decision. 

Although Sumabong got clocked hard with a low blow in the 2nd round that left him down for more than 5 minutes, he eventually regrouped and got back his aggression in time. 

Sumabong’s anger showed in the succeeding rounds as he peppered Francisco with hook shots coming left and right. However, Francisco got him right back as much as he can with his own counter shots.

This exchange went on until the final bell of the 8th round, with Sumabong doing just enough to get two judges’ nods for the split win.

Surgical straights

A more methodical bout followed that frenetic slugfest as Charlie Malupangue (9-4-3, 6 KO) kept Powell Balaba (9-31-1, 5 KO) slipping with a bounce-back unanimous decision win. 

Fired up by a new lease on his career, Balaba came out guns blazing for the first 3 rounds, hitting Malupangue with a persistent barrage of overhand hits and hook shots.

However, Malupangue saved his best for last as he repeatedly tagged a visibly-gassed Balaba with surgical straights and his own hooks in the latter 3 rounds. Malupangue eventually became too much for Balaba as he slid down to his 31st career loss.

And in the other bouts of the undercard, Raffy Ciar (3-0-1) and Pablito Balidio (3-1-2) opened the event with a split draw while Jimboy Rosales (4-3-1, 2 KO) handed Franco Serafica his first career loss (3-1, 1 KO) via split decision in the following match. –

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