Pinoy boxer Jhack Tepora dealt with HIV scare before Komanisi fight
MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxer Jhack Tepora had the scare of a lifetime before his most recent fight in East London, South Africa. And it had nothing to do with his opponent.
Shortly before stepping on the scale for his bout against Lusanda Komanisi, Tepora was informed that his standard pre-fight test for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) had come back positive, potentially nixing the fight and ending his career.
“We didn’t even care about the fight anymore,” said Tepora’s promoter, Pio Paolo Castillo, president of Omega Pro Sports International (OPSI). “We were worried about the kid and his children (two sons). We were worried about the other fighters in our stable. We were worried with his life.”
Tepora (21-0, 16 knockouts), who was accompanied by his brother Jellyper "Jing-jing" Tepora and head trainer Jinggoy Junco, had to wait through a tense, sleepless night to get the results of a confirmatory test, which came back negative. The team surmises that the reason for the positive result was a mix-up in the laboratory as Tepora’s results sheet had a different given name before his surname.
“We were receiving word from the promoter already that he is cancelling the Tepora-Komanisi fight if the retest will still be positive,” said OPSI vice president Jerome Calatrava.
The fight itself was an afterthought until they were given the good news at noon of September 22, about 8 hours before the fight. Castillo said another test was administered once he returned to the Philippines, which also came back negative.
It was the first time for the Cebu City native to fight outside of the Philippines, and his first significant matchup since turning pro 5 years ago. Tepora appeared smaller than his opponent due in part to the team not thinking about rehydration following the weigh-in, in light of the mixup. But Tepora had a renewed sense of purpose once he was in the clear.
“I remember Jhack telling me when he found out he was negative for HIV that he was gonna kill his opponent once he gets in the ring,” Castillo said. “And he really did.”
Tepora finished matters at 1:59 of the second round as a sharp counter right hook felled Komanisi (21-4, 18 KOs), earning the 24-year-old Tepora the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) inter-continental featherweight title and snapping Komanisi’s 9-fight winning streak.
The win also will earn Tepora a world ranking with the WBO at featherweight (126 pounds), and has already garnered him attention with various power brokers in the sport.
“We want big fights now. As to who and where? We really don’t know yet but because of Jhack’s performance from that day….International promoters have been calling us and been wanting to work with us,” said Castillo.
In the Philippines, there is no currently no required test for HIV or Hepatitis C as part of the boxing licensing process, as is standard throughout much of the world. The only blood-borne pathogen currently tested during annual licensing procedures is Hepatitis B. – Rappler.com