THE throng of Cebuano boxing fans that came in droves to watch the Nonito Donaire-bannered “The Time Has Come” fight card on Saturday night at the spacious Cebu City Sports Center outdoor field reaffirmed Cebu’s reputation as the country’s boxing mecca.
An estimated record crowd of 25,000 watched US-raised, Bohol-native Donaire stamp his class against an overmatched Hungarian challenger Zsolt Bedak, whom he stopped via TKO in the third round to retain his WBO superbantamweight belt.
The boxing card, presented by ALA promotions in partnership with Top Rank and ABS-CBN Sports, could go down as the most attended boxing ever in the country.
The massive turnout of fans, usually seen only in football events, erased the previous 15,000 crowd that witnessed the “Battle of Cebu” featuring Cebuano pride Z “The Dream” Gorres and Mexico’s Fernando Montiel in their battle for the WBO superflyweight title in February 2007.
That fight also took place at the same venue, but the Cebuano left in dismay as Gorres lost via a controversial split decision. Gorres had his glowing boxing career cut short following a near-fatal bout in the US in 2009 that had him in coma for weeks before finally recovering after several months of therapy.
Gorres, who was one of ALA’s top prospects at the time, collapsed after winning via 10-round unanimous decision over Columbian Luis Melendez in their bantamweight bout in Las Vegas in 2009. He ended his career with 31W-2L-2D record.
Curiously, Gorres was among specials guests on Saturday night when the Cebuano fans were treated to Donaire’s triumphant act.
Donaire’s performance was so impressive that he said he’s done with fighting “class B” fighters and now he wants to take on the best again, expressing his desire to have a rematch with former tormentor Guillermo Rigondauex and Nicholas Walters or pursue a unification bout with current IBF champion Card Frampton.
What made the Cebuanos doubly happy though were the impressive victories of ALA boys Mark “Magnifico” Magsayo and Jason Pagara, who remained on track for world title shots.
Magsayo remained unbeaten in 14 bouts following a sixth-round stoppage of tough American foe Chris Avalos to become the WBO International featherweight champion. Pagara scored a unanimous decision win over Mexican Miguel Zamudio in their welterweight bout.
Magsayo’s impressive showing though proved enough for ALA general manager Michael Aldeguer to line him up for a world title bout probably in July in the US.
Due to the success of the promotion, Michael, who has effectively taken over the reins at ALA from Aldeguer patriarch Tony, said he there will definitely more events to be held not only in Cebu, but also in other parts of Asia, some in partnership again with Top Rank led by Bob Arum.
“We are very happy with the success of the event tonight. Everything went smoothly,” said the young Aldeguer, who revealed that the next stop would be in Dubai.
Earlier, Top Rank representative Brad Jacobs, told the media, local and international, has assured that they will be coming back to Cebu for more shows.
“We’re promoted all over the world and to do that, you need to have good partners. We couldn’t ask for more with the people of ALA promotions and ABS-CBN around.”