Filipino boxers

Gaballo to sub for Donaire in title clash with Rodriguez

Roy Luarca

BIG BREAK. Reymart Gaballo may just get elevated to the headliner.

File photo by Alvin S. Go/Rappler

Offered to fill in for COVID-hit Nonito Donaire, unbeaten Filipino fighter Reymart Gaballo readily grabs the chance to contend for a world title

Reymart Gaballo won’t waste a chance to be world champion.

Offered to fill in for ‘Filipino Flash’ Nonito Donaire, who contracted COVID-19 and withdrew from his World Boxing Council bantamweight title duel with Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez on Saturday, December 19 (Sunday, December 20, Philippine time), Gaballo readily gave his nod.

As such, Gaballo, instead of fighting in the chief support against Chilean Jose Velasquez for the World Boxing Association interim bantamweight belt, will be elevated to the headliner opposite Rodriguez in the Showtime televised card set at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Like the unbeaten Gaballo (23-0, 20 knockouts), Rodriguez also substituted for Frenchman Nordine Oubaali, who was supposed to be Donaire’s foe but backed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

According to JC Manangquil, head of Sanman Promotions which handles Gaballo’s ring career, event organizers called him up early Wednesday, informing him of the development that deprived Donaire of a possible grudge rematch with Naoya Inoue.

Manangquil said Gaballo, who has stopped his last 4 opponents, is just happy with the opportunity to contend for the title.

“He (Gaballo) okayed it, so did coach Moro (Fernandez) and the whole team,” said Manangquil. “Anyway, the fight will be on the same day, same weight, same rounds, and also against an orthodox fighter so we see no problem. What’s important is Gaballo is in shape and ready to fight.”

While Donaire tested Inoue to the limit in their Fight of the Year encounter in Saitama, Japan on November 7, 2019, Rodriguez failed miserably earlier, hitting the canvas 3 times and getting knocked out in 2 rounds in a World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation unification in May 2019.

The 28-year-old Rodriguez, who stands 5-foot-6 like Gaballo, hasn’t fought since that first loss in 20 fights with 12 knockouts.

Manangquil said he’s waiting for the organizers’ final decision on Wednesday. – Rappler.com