When Manny faced Melvin
By Joaquin Henson
Fri, 29 May 2020
Melvin Magramo (L) and his son Giemel (R).
It was on Sept. 13, 1997, when Manny Pacquiao battled Melvin Magramo in a 10-round bout at the Cebu Coliseum. Pacquiao was coming off eight straight KO wins and fresh from capturing the Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) flyweight crown. Magramo was the WBO Intercontinental flyweight champion and a lot more experienced with 37 fights under his belt compared to Pacquiao’s 21. Pacquiao was 18 and Magramo, 26.
Pacquiao’s business manager Rod Nazario complained before the fight that the ring was smaller than standard and had too much cushion on the canvas, making it easier for a plodding slugger like Magramo to trap his opponent. Because of the foamy canvas, Pacquiao couldn’t move around as much as his feet sank into the cushion. Nazario also protested the use of eight-ounce gloves instead of six. Six-ouncers were used from miniflyweight to bantamweight while eight-ouncers were from junior featherweight upwards. Heavier gloves soften the impact of a punch. Nazario said Pacquiao’s power wasn’t as potent with eight-ouncers. Despite Nazario’s complaints, the smaller ring with the foamy canvas and eight-ounce gloves were used.
As expected, Magramo crowded Pacquiao from the start, keeping his head stuck to the teenager’s chest. Pacquiao had difficulty creating the separation for the angles to throw his killer bombs. The action was furious. Pacquiao wouldn’t back down and traded with Magramo toe-to-toe. Magramo was cut on the right eyebrow in the second round and Nazario insisted it was from a legitimate blow. Magramo claimed he was butted.
In the end, the decision was unanimous as judge Teddy Alivio scored it 99-96, judge Dioscoro Ramirez 98-95 and judge Luciano Babiera 97-95, all for Pacquiao. Curiously, Alivio had five rounds even in his scorecard, Ramirez three and Babiera two. A 10-all count is now frowned in boxing. Nazario said there was no doubt Pacquiao won but conceded he lost steam in the late rounds. “Kung six-ounce gloves ang ginamit, tulog si Magramo,” said Nazario who counted at least four occasions when Magramo was staggered. Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde said twice, Pacquiao went to the wrong corner after the bell rang to end a round. Magramo’s cornerman Toti Sangalang accused his counterpart Rick Staheli of delaying tactics by retaping both of Pacquiao’s gloves close to the end of the fight. Referee Danny Rodenas said there was nothing wrong with the retaping which was ordered by GAB chairman Doming Cepeda, watching at ringside, to fix the loose tape.
Elorde said the fight was too close for either fighter to win by a unanimous decision and felt a draw would’ve been fair. Pacquiao admitted it wasn’t easy fighting a rugged, clever brawler like Magramo and said he was willing to do a rematch. But the return engagement never happened.
After two fights, Pacquiao went to Thailand and won his first world title, dethroning Chatchai Sasakul on an eighth round KO in 1998. Magramo went on to win six straight fights, including a stoppage of Katsuhiro Akita to bag the OPBF flyweight crown that Pacquiao relinquished. In 2002, Magramo lost in his only bid for a world title, bowing to South Africa’s Masibulele Makepula on a ninth round TKO for the vacant IBO flyweight belt in Bethnal Green, England.
Magramo retired from boxing in 2003 at the age of 31 after a 13-year career with a 36-22-3 record, including 21 KOs. He’s now 49. Pacquiao is the reigning super WBA welterweight champion at 41. Pacquiao recently sent a message wishing Magramo’s son Giemel luck and God’s blessing in his Aug. 1 fight against Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight title in Tokyo. Can you imagine that Pacquiao fought Giemel’s father over 20 years ago?
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.
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