Filipino boxer Bacho upsets Cuban Despaigne in Thai tournament
THANYABURI, Thailand - All 6 boxers fielded by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) in the Thailand International Boxing Tournament here scored sensational wins on opening day Tuesday, April 4.
But none more spectacular was Joel Bacho's 3-1 decision over World Series of Boxing (WSB) and AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) veteran Arisnoidys Despaigne of powerhouse Cuba.
Despaigne, silver medalist in the 2013 World Championships, was highly favored over Bacho, who until recently has been fighting under the shadow of his erstwhile co-welterweight (69 kilos) Eumir Felix Marcial, a 2015 SEA Games gold medalist.
The last time a Filipino beat a Cuban in international competition was at the 2014 President's Cup in Kazakhstan, when Rey Saludar won a split decision over Jorge Luis Cordero Parlay.
Marcial, fighting for the first time as a middleweight (75 kilos), also had a smashing debut - a technical knockout (TKO) victory over Japan's Ren Umemura. The referee stopped the contest in the final canto after a series of left straights from Marcial had the Japanese wobbly, glassy-eyed and bleeding profusely from the nose.
Bacho, from Mandaluyong, was not intimidated by the Cuban's sterling credentials and surprised Despaigne by taking the fight to him, using excellent ring movement and snappy combinations.
"Joel used his head. Cuban coach Enrique Steiner came over to congratulate us and concede that they were unprepared for a much-improved Bacho. I think Joel's time has come," says Philippine head coach Pat Gaspi.
Steiner spent a couple of years in the Philippines as ABAP coaching consultant until 2009.
Another TKO victory was 21-year-old James Palicte's bout against Patrick McLaughlin of Australia. A couple of right straights to the face forced the referee to summon the ring physician twice as the Aussie spewed blood from the nose and mouth. The doctor mercifully halted the bout towards the end of the second round.
Scoring unanimous 5-0 decisions were Carlo Paalam over Australian Alex Winwood, Ian Clark Bautista against Juhyeon Chloe of Korea and Mario Fernandez versus India's Hussam Uddin Mohammed.
ABAP President Ricky Vargas, who monitored the event over the phone with ABAP Secretary-General Ed Picson, was jubilant but cautious.
"This is an excellent start, a perfect 6-0. But you must always be on your toes, there are bigger tasks ahead. I will constantly be praying for our boxers' safety and success," said the PLDT executive in a text message to Picson.
There are 18 countries and 20 teams in the tournament (host Thailand fielded 3 teams), with 107 boxers spread out over 10 weight categories. Favored teams aside form Cuba are Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan Mongolia and host Thailand.
The tourney ends on Saturday, April 8.
The venue is the Queen Sirikit Sports Complex in Thanyaburi District, Pathum Thani Province, about 50 kilometers north of the capital city of Bangkok. – press release with reports from Ryan Songalia/Rappler.com