Marvin Sonsona to make Madison Square Garden debut in June

Former champion Marvin Sonsona will make his American debut on June 7 at Madison Square Garden underneath the middleweight championship clash between Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto

GARDEN PARTY. Former world champion Marvin Sonsona will make his US debut on June 7 at Madison Square Garden. Photo by Ryan Songalia/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Just four months ago, Marvin Sonsona was essentially homeless, living in a gym after being burned out of his home in General Santos City, Philippines near the start of the Christmas season. In a storybook-like turn of fortunes, the 24-year-old former champion will take his next step towards regaining a world title at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Sonsona’s promoter Sammy Gello-ani and New York-based adviser Nathan Lewkowicz both confirmed to that Sonsona (18-1-1, 15 knockouts) will fight an opponent to be named on the undercard of The Ring magazine middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s clash with Miguel Cotto on June 7.

The Cebu City-based promoter Gello-ani says that no opponent has been solidified, though they have a few names in mind. Sonsona said he had been told of one name in particular, and that the fighter’s style is similar to that of Akifumi Shimoda, the former junior featherweight titleholder whom he knocked out in three rounds last month in Macau to resurrect his stagnant career.

The knockout blow was a single left uppercut that dropped Shimoda flat, and is expected to contend for Knockout of the Year honors.

Sonsona first broke out onto the world stage in 2009, defeating Jose Lopez by unanimous decision to win the WBO junior bantamweight title. Sonsona’s reign would be brief, however, as he lost it on the scales two months later before drawing with Alejandro Hernandez.

Sonsona’s career took another hit in his next fight the following year, suffering a fourth-round knockout to Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Sonsona had languished in his obscurity for years afterwards, fighting tuneups against unknown opposition before taking the Shimoda fight on short notice for money to repair his home.

(READ: Marvin Sonsona: The new ‘Bad Boy from Dadiangas’)

Sonsona said he had just 26 days to train for the Shimoda fight, but managed to fit in 100 rounds of sparring in that period, sparring up to 16 rounds per day.

Sonsona is currently in Manila, training with Jhun Agrabio at the gym owned by his manager Rajan Yraola.

Casimero defends May 3 against Fuentes

IBF junior flyweight titleholder Johnriel Casimero will make the third defense of his title on May 3 at the Waterfront Hotel against Colombia’s Mauricio Fuentes, said Casimero’s promoter Gello-ani. The 24-year-old Casimero (19-2, 11 knockouts) of Ormoc City, Leyte, Philippines has held the title since stopping Luis Lazarte in 2012, while Fuentes (16-2, 10 KOs) will be fighting outside of Colombia for the first time in his career. –

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at An archive of his work can be found at Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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