Cebu stages country's first fight card since COVID-19

Philippine boxing takes its first swing back to normalcy on Wednesday, October 7, with a four-fight card hosted by Omega Pro Sports Promotions inside a bubble at the International Pharmaceuticals Inc. plant in Mandaue City, Cebu.

Unbeaten Mark Vicelles, power puncher Peter Apolinar, knockout artist Christian Araneta, and rising star Carlo Bacaro, all of the Omega Boxing stable, will be tackling separate opponents as the sport tries to break free from the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vicelles (11-0, with 5 KOs) battles Junuel Lacar (8-5-3, 6 KOs) in a 10-round flyweight encounter while Apolinar (11-1, 8 KOs), former sparring partner of Japanese monster Naoya Inoue, tangles with Jetro Pabustan (30-7-6, 9 KOs) in a featherweight tussle.

Araneta  (17-1, 14 KO) aims to find out whether his shoulder injury has fully healed when he clashes with light flyweight Richard Rosales (14-12-2, 8 KOs), while Carlo Bacaro guns for his sixth straight win in as many fights against super featherweight Jeffrey Stella (4-9-3, 4 KOs) to round up the closed-door event dubbed Kumbati 5.

With their vaunted power, Apolinar and Araneta are expected to go for knockouts against journeymen Pabustan and Rosales.

Araneta, who lost to Daniel Valladares in an International Boxing Federation title eliminator in Mexico following a shoulder injury in the 4th round on September 8, 2019, is raring to climb back in the contender rankings where he fell to No. 9.

Apolinar, on the other hand, is seeking a third straight stoppage as he continues to work his way up after suffering his lone loss to Jeo Santisima in 2015.

While he is not as explosive as Apolinar and Araneta, Vicelles has been described as a very good ring technician with a lot of savvy inside the ring by Jerome Calatvara, vice president of Omega Sports Promotions.

According to Omega Boxing stable head coach Julius Irving Junco, his fighters have not stopped training since January and are ready to display their talent in the card to be shown on Facebook Live.

The boxers, ring officials, coaches, and referees are already in the bubble since Wednesday and have been tested for COVID-19.

The Omega Boxing stable is filling up the big void left by the closure of ALA Promotions not only in the province but also in the country. –