MANILA, Philippines – It’s one thing to fight the best boxer in the world. It’s an entirely different proposition to do so with less than a week of training and two injured shoulders.
Those were the circumstances under which Filipino boxer Charly Suarez fought two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko back in 2012 in the AIBA World Series of Boxing, a semi-pro league organized by the world amateur governing body.
Lomachenko had been fighting for the Ukraine Otamans, while Suarez was representing the Dolce & Gabbana Italia Thunder.
As Suarez remembers it, he was at “50%” condition but didn’t want to let his team down. It was on this night that Suarez demonstrated his fearlessness in the ring.
“I said to them, ‘Yes I’ll fight Lomachenko, not for myself but for the team,'” said Suarez of Sawata, Davao del Norte, who will be one of 6 boxers representing the Philippines this month at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia. (READ: Boxer Charly Suarez makes SEA Games return with Tokyo 2020 in mind)
“I only trained for 5 days, I lost weight, got down, that’s it, I fought Lomachenko. Then my coach told me, ‘Charly, after 3 rounds, we stop the fight’… but during the fight, I said I can do it until the 5 rounds because that is a championship.”
Against the ultra-aggressive, ultra-quick, and ultra-elusive Lomachenko, Suarez hung tough, and rose off the canvas from a body shot knockdown in the third round to make it to the final bell. Suarez lost the decision 50-44 on all 3 cards but won much more in respect.
“I was excited because I know he is a good boxer, but for me that is my opportunity to beat him, or to fight with him. But you know I lost because I wasn’t myself, didn’t have good training, I lacked training. I lacked practice but I gave our fight my best,” said Suarez.
“Somebody told me, even my coach, that if I had been 100% physically fit, maybe I would have had a good fight at the time.”
Suarez said he received numerous offers from pro managers, including Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, whom Suarez said sent a contract. Instead, Suarez had to decline them all because of his shoulder injuries, for which he underwent platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection therapy to heal.
Suarez would not box again for nearly a year and a half, but he returned to the Philippine national team in July 2014 to earn silver at the President Cup in Kazakhstan, and another silver that year at the Asian Games in South Korea.
Lomachenko would go on to have an amateur record of 396-1, with the lone loss coming at the 2007 World Championships in Chicago – the same tournament in which Suarez made his Worlds debut. Now a pro, Lomachenko is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, a two-division champion with a 9-1 (7 knockouts) record.
Lomachenko has been without peer in recent fights, and made his third defense of the WBO junior lightweight title this past weekend with a stoppage of Miguel Marriaga.
As for Suarez, he finally made it to the Olympics last year in Rio de Janeiro and hopes a strong showing in Kuala Lumpur builds his momentum to a return in 2020.
Was Suarez surprised at the success of Lomachenko in the pro ranks? Hardly.
“He’s the best boxer in his weight division now and has a long journey ahead of him in his pro career,” said Suarez. “I said before that when this man turned pro, he will be the [best] pound-for-pound boxer.” – Rappler.com
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