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Abdiel Pinto didn't go down after this punch, but Haiti's Evens Pierre had so staggered him that the referee stepped in and called the TKO at this point. Photo by Eric Jackson
Chemito Moreno retains his WBA bantamweight title
Boxing night at Figali
by Eric Jackson
They now have bleachers --- way back --- for boxing events at the uncompleted Figali Convention Center, and people who chose those seats got to witness a world championship bout at the end of a full boxing card for only $12.50. I sat at the $40 tables, and got very close. The place wasn't very crowded on the October 30 boxing night.
That's a shame, because there were some very good bouts and, most unusually, the main attraction turned out to be the best of them.
photo by Eric Jackson
The fisticuffs flew fast and furious between the Panamanian champ, Anselmo "Chemito" Moreno (in the blue trunks) and Rolly "Matsushita" Lunas (in the yellow and green), the Filipino challenger who lives in Japan. Lunas was the aggressor throughout most of the fight, but in the exchanges Moreno usually got in the best counterpunches. Every now and then Moreno moved in to pound Lunas back against the ropes, but the challenger was always able to get out of these situations. Still, as the rounds went by Lunas showed signs of fatigue and this reporter had Moreno winning all but a couple and, as it turned out, two of the judges saw it exactly that way as well, with the third giving all 12 rounds to the champ.
This fight featured no knockdowns and went the distance, and if the score was lopsided, it really didn't tell the story of a valiant, energetic and skilled challenge, fended off by a technically excellent defense in the second time that Moreno (now 24-1-1) has exposed his title. Next stop for Chemito Moreno may be Japan, where promoters want to put on a rematch with Wladimir Sidorenko, from whom he won the WBA belt last May. There are other possibilities and nothing has been signed yet.
Chemito moves in, Matsushita holds on. Photo by Eric Jackson
The bouts had started hours earlier with a couple of well matched but relatively new female boxers, Yacksbury Gordón and Arecelys De Leon. I thought Gordón won the four-rounder, but the judges saw it differently. These women are not going to win wealth and fame in the fight game, but after the bout Gordón, who works 12-hour days as a cashier in a store and still finds time to train as a boxer, said she wasn't too disappointed, that she's into boxing as her form of diversion and staying in shape.
Venezuela's boxing hero of the future? Photo by José F. Ponce
There followed an exhibition bout between two 11-year-old amateurs, both well coached, the Vene fighting an orthodox stand-up style and the Panamanian crouching and keeping his left hand just above his knee and his right up near his face.
Next, a couple of relatively inexperienced bantamweights, Humberto Peña and Rudy Santos did battle. The ref stopped the fight after the second round due to a cut to Santos's eye.
Next we saw Nicholas "The Axe Man" Walters, a Jamaican featherweight who trains and fights in Panama, run his professional record up to 4-0 by overwhelming Colon's Javier Jiménez. Walters dominated from the start but Jiménez put on a furious rally in the second round, only to see Walters reassert control and then score the TKO a minute and 14 seconds into the fourth. After a professional debut that began with a unanimous decision, Walters has knocked out his next three opponents and is a boxer to watch.
Daddy won his fight. Photo by Eric Jackson
There followed a couple of somewhat lackluster bouts that went the distance and ended in split decisions: Antonio Fernandez defeated Rolando Giono in a bout where the latter was penalized for one low blow too many in the third round; and Irving Berry, a featherweight with an interesting ambidextrous style but no apparent killer instinct outpointed Danys "Feroz" Díaz.
Joel Cerrud followed with another chapter in a career marred by bad luck, getting sidetracked from his comeback when his Latin American super featherweight championship bout against Nicaraguan Ronny McField was ended by an injury from two head butts and declared a draw.
Joel Cerrud, above, charges in --- but below, is examined for cuts sustained in a couple
of accidental head butts. The fight was stopped too early to count, so it was a draw.
Photos by Eric Jackson
All of this was televised on the TVMax channel, with the ultimate bout also shown on Japanese TV. (Thus the Japanese characters on the ring's turnbuckle pads.) Figali really isn't the best boxing venue, so many of the nation's fight fans decided to take it all in on the idiot box. Many more sparsely attended fights nights like this and there will be a popular and practical demand for a more cozy setting for the main events of this, one of Panamanian pugilism's latest golden age.
So what's next on the national boxing scene?
That would be November 29 at ATLAPA, when Whyber "Showtime" García (20-5, 14 KOs) fights Venezuela's Jorge "Niño de Oro" Linares (25-0, 16 KOs) for the vacant WBA super-featherweight championship.
However, most of Panama's top fighters will be seeking to advance their fortunes abroad in the months to come.
WBA super-bantamweight champ Celestino "Pelenchín" Caballero (30-2, 21 KOs) gets a chance to start on the title unification that he wants on November 21 in Orillia, Ontario, when he fights the man with the IBF belt, Canada's Steve Molitor (28-0, 13 KOs). This will be televised in the United States, so the tall and lanky fighter from hardscrabble Colon ought to see a payday that sets him up for at least a comfortable middle class rest of his life. If Caballero gets past that test, he'll want to fight the WBO champ, Puerto Rican Juan Manuel López, or the WBC champ, Mexican Israel Vázquez.
WBA cruiserweight champ Guillermo "Felino" Jones will be in New York in a few weeks to talk with Don King about defending the title he won from Germany's Firat Arslan in September at a New York or New Jersey venue.
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