5 Pinoys in Miami
By Joaquin Henson
Wed, 27 May 2020
L-R: JC Manangquil, Reymart Gaballo and Sean Gibbons.
WBO bantamweight champion Johnriel Casimero isn’t the only Filipino fighter staying in the US during the pandemic. In Miami, there are five Filipino boxers under J. C. Manangquil’s SanMan stable of General Santos City working with Cuban trainer Osmiri (Moro) Fernandez and one of them, Reymart Gaballo, is ranked No. 1 by the WBA in the bantamweight division.
Aside from Gaballo, the other Filipino fighters in Miami are superbantamweight Mike (Magic) Plania, superfeatherweight John Vincent Moralde, superfeatherweight Mark (Machete) Bernaldez and welterweight James Bacon. Manangquil met Fernandez during a boxing promotion in New York City in 2016 and they hit it off, later deciding to team up to develop Filipino world champions. Fernandez, 49, took care of 42 fighters from 11 countries from 2007 to 2017 and they posted a combined record of 363 wins, 15 losses and five draws. Among those he trained were the Kameda brothers of Japan, Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba, Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua and Mussa Tursungaliyev of Kazakhstan.
Manangquil, 27, said the five boxers are in good hands. “Everything is good,” he said. “They have their own beds and food is provided to them. Only Reymart is single so four are married. We give them assistance when they need for their families in the Philippines. They live beside the gym so they’ve been training regularly. They’ve been in Miami since January.” Manangquil said when the lockdown was imposed in Miami, the fighters took a month off. “They’ve been training safely the last month and now, they’re ready for a fight anytime,” he said. “They’re with a great coach and my partner Moro. Their visas are OK. Since flights going home are hard, they’ll stay in Miami and wait for a fight and the COVID-19 situation to end.”
MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons said with foreign travelers restricted to enter the US, it’s lucky that Manangquil’s fighters are in Miami because they’ll be readily available for bouts when boxing returns. “Gaballo will fight on Showtime in August,” said Gibbons. “Working on the others now.”
Gaballo, 23, boasts a 22-0 record, with 19 KOs including 12 in the first round. In 2018, the Polomolok native decisioned Stephon Young to win the interim WBA bantamweight crown in Hollywood. Last August, he stopped Colombia’s Yeison Vargas in the third round in Minnesota to mark his third straight victory in the US. The 5-6 Gaballo has also picked up a win in Tulum, Mexico. It’s a crowded situation in the bantamweight division with Japan’s Naoya Inoue holding the super WBA and IBF crowns, England’s Nordine Oubaali the WBC title and Casimero the WBO belt. Additionally, Rigondeaux is the WBA “regular” titlist.
Plania, 23, has a 23-1 record, with 12 KOs and is coming off a win on points over previously unbeaten Nicaraguan Giovanni Gutierrez for the vacant IBF North American superbantamweight title in Miami last December. His only loss was to former WBA bantamweight champion Juan Carlos Payano of the Dominican Republic by a decision in Hollywood in 2018. Plania, however, floored Payano in the third round. The General Santos City native has won four of five fights in the US and also registered a triumph by decision over Roger Alonzo in Chetumal, Mexico, in 2017.
Moralde, 26, stopped Argentina’s Matias Arriagada in one round in Miami last December, his second win in five outings in the US, to raise his record to 23-3, with 13 KOs. In 2015, he outpointed Brayd Smith in Australia and after the fight, the previously undefeated hometowner collapsed and died two days later because of a blood clot in the brain. Bernaldez, 26, totes a 20-3 record, including 14 KOs. He has won two of three fights in the US and last December, blasted Renan Portes in one round in General Santos City. In 2018, Bernaldez dropped Kye MacKenzie in the fifth round but was stopped in the seventh after two trips to the canvas in Australia. Bacon, 29, has never fought in the US and last November, decked Darragh Foley in the first round but lost on points in Sydney. His record is 23-4, with 15 KOs.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.
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