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Back to drawing board

By Joaquin Henson
Tue, 14 May 2024

Torres drops Gaballo.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. WBO No. 1 bantamweight Reymart Gaballo was pitted against Osaka-based Mexican Kenbun Torres in an eight-rounder at the Midas Hotel and Casino, Pasay City, last Friday to serve as a tune-up for a shot at WBO champion Yoshiki Takei sometime in September. Gaballo, 27, was coming off three wins in a row since suffering his only loss to Nonito Donaire, Jr. in a WBC bantamweight title fight in Carson City, California, in 2021 while Torres, 36, has struggled in a career that started in 2004, was stalled for nine years and was stained by three losses in his last four outings.

Torres relocated to Osaka in 2005 and has fought 13 of his 19 bouts in Japan. His home country Mexico has not been a kind host as he lost all three of his fights in Guadalajara, Puebla and Mexico City. Before facing Gaballo, Torres said a win over the top contender would be a life-changer and this was his chance to move up the ladder. His record of 13-5, with 10 KOs, gave a hint that he’s a dangerous power puncher and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Gaballo, however, didn’t seem to care. When the bell rang, Gaballo charged at Torres, looking for a quick ending and was nailed by a counter. Gaballo went down thrice before referee Sammy Bernabe waved it off at 2:33 of the first round. The Polomolok fighter didn’t only lose the fight but also the opportunity to challenge Takei. “Back to the drawing board,” sighed Gaballo’s manager JC Manangquil.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, who flew in from the US to witness the action, said there are other Filipino fighters lined up for world title shots. The first is WBC No. 1 bantamweight Vincent Astrolabio who takes on defending champion Junto Nakatani in Japan on July 20. It won’t be an easy outing for Astrolabio as Nakatani is a three-division world titlist with a 27-0 record, including 20 KOs. One of Nakatani’s victims was Filipino Giemel Magramo. Astrolabio’s hopes hinge on his raw power. He’s heavy-handed and if Nonoy Neri’s protégé, who has 14 KOs in 19 wins, lands squarely on the button, Nakatani will see stars for sure. The challenge is how to reach the taller and longer Nakatani.

The second is IBF No. 1 minimumweight Pedro Taduran, who once held the world title in the 105-pound division. Taduran, 27, is tipped to battle IBF champion Ginjiro Shigeoka in August. Since losing the IBF title to countryman Rene Mark Cuarto and failing to regain it in a rematch, Taduran has scored back-to-back wins over Powell Balaba and Jake Amparo. He’s ready to reclaim the crown.

Although Gaballo lost last Friday, the consolation was Marlon Tapales’ first round KO win over Thailand’s Nattapong Jankaew in the main event. Tapales, 32, surrendered his super WBA and IBF superbantamweight titles to Naoya Inoue in Tokyo last December and is itching to get back in the championship picture. His record is 38-4, with 20 KOs.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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