Philippine Stars Shine as Francisco, Cuello, Viloria And Donaire All Score KO Victories in Manila

By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - April 18, 2009 -- The Filipino Stars were rising Sunday morning in Metro Manila, where the Filipino fighters had their way big time in front of a crowded Araneta Coliseum. This action packed fight card should be the model for any future PPV boxing events. Five entertaining fights, each fight more exciting than the last, except for the next to last fight—a potential fight of the year candidate in Viloria vs. Solis.

First up was Super Flyweight, Drian Francisco (16-0, 1, 12 KOs) vs. the embryo level, Sahril Fabanyo (2-2-1). Midway into the second round, Francisco landed a monster left hook to the solar plexus that ended it for Fabanyo..

Second on the card was Sonny Boy Yaro (30-7-5, 19 KOs) who scored a first round KO against the only Filipino to lose during this event—Eriberto Gejon (25-5-1, 14 KOs). This fight lasted about a minute, when Sonny Boy landed a roundhouse right that ended the night for Gejon. Two fights over in less than a half hour, fantastic!

Third up was Denver Cuello (16-2-5, 8 KOs) against Japan’s Hiroshi Matsumoto (18-10-4, 8 KOs). Matsumoto was downed in the third and it was over in the fourth, after Cuello landed a nasty uppercut that put the period on the sentence. 103-pound Denver Cuello may fight at Minimum Weight but he’s charismatic, exciting and delivers maximum entertainment. I look forward to seeing him fight again. The Philippines is a gold mine of rising stars following the success of Philippine Super Star, Manny Pacquaio, who may be more beloved in the Philippines than any fighter is loved anywhere else—except for maybe his up coming opponent—Ricky Hatton.

The fourth fight should’ve been the Main Event, since it was the most exciting, drama packed fight of the entire morning. Jr. Flyweight Brian Viloria (25-2, 15 KOs) snatched up the IBF title from Ulises Solis (28-2-2, 20 KOs) in a tremendously entertaining fight that saw Viloria test the limits of his own refined approach, as well as Solis’ chin. There were many explosive moments where Viloria would attack with combinations that were landing flush and wearing Solis down. Then Solis would mount a comeback and the action got ever more intense. There were lots of back and forth exchanges that shifted the momentum, like when Solis would come on strong and land big shots that slowed down the fast punching Viloria in the middle rounds.

This was an intensely competitive fight but Viloria usually managed to get the better of Solis during exchanges and certainly landed the bigger, more telling punches throughout. Solis was penalized a point in the third round and again in the fifth round for low blows, but Viloria’s trunks were pretty high. At one point, the ref pulled Brian’s trunks down a bit but it was too late after Solis already had lost two points. Solis needed a knockout to win. The knockout came, but it was Viloria who administered it; in the eleventh round, when he caught Solis with a counter right cross that Solis moved right into and fell to a knee and then crumbled to the canvas as the referee counted to ten.

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The Main Event featured IBF/IBO Flyweight titlist Nonito Donaire (21-1, 14 KOs) against then unbeaten Texan, Raul Martinez (24-1, 14 KO’s). From the opening moments of the fight, Donaire was finding Martinez an easy target, flooring him twice in the first round, first time with a left hook, second time with a right to the head. Donaire was ruthless but Martinez survived the first round. In the second, Martinez threw a right and Donaire answered with a barrage of shots that saw Martinez in trouble. A Donaire left put Martinez down for a third time. Martinez was game though and managed to land a couple of straight rights through Donaire’s guard as the round ended.

In the third, Donaire was aggressive, circling and banging Martinez with big shots. Martinez suddenly began to jab and then started tagging Donaire with some straight rights that penetrated his guard. Donaire eased up a bit boxing outside and Martinez was able to score. It looked like Martinez may have had a chance after all but then came the fourth round, where Donaire missed wildly and Martinez, confidence rising, was stalking Donaire. It was turning into a fight, with both guys scoring in spots when suddenly; Donaire landed a clean left uppercut that put Martinez down for a fourth time. Martinez was up quick enough and definitely looked able to keep fighting but referee, Pete Podgorski waved Martinez out at 2:42 of round four. Not exactly controversial but Martinez should’ve been allowed to continue.

Donaire has a very refined punching technique that powers his offense. He’s a well rounded boxer with good power. I’d like to see him fight a rematch with Vic Darchinyan at either 115 or 118 pounds but Vic’s promoter isn’t interested—even though Vic is totally interested in redeeming his only loss. What a shame that too often the Promoters don’t let the best fight the best.

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Article posted on 19.04.2009

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