Fifteen of us watched the recent Pacquiao-Marquez welterweight title fight last Sunday.
(The fight occurred on Saturday evening in the U.S. but it was Sunday morning to us here in the Philippines.)
All 15 thought that Marquez won. And so like most people who saw the fight, we were incredulous at the decision. Marquez was robbed!, we all thought.
Two weeks earlier, I had the opportunity to watch several real fights at Puerto’s own boxing circus.
Thanks to a mutual friend, Bruce McTavish, a well-known boxing official (and currently head of the world organization of ringside boxing officials), graciously offered my group front-row seats at the coliseum.
That’s a generic chart above but it depicts the city coliseum accurately enough.
It was my first live boxing match so it was quite exciting. “Rambulan” featured seven bouts. We arrived in time for the main fight, a 12-rounder between a Filipino and a Japanese.
What’s a rambulan? Rambulan is a Filipino made-up word based on the slang definition of the English word, rumble.
Joel’s a Frenchman who’s lived in Puerto for nearly 20 years. He’s opening his own Pension House next year. Barry’s an American boxing aficionado who also happens to have been a Hollywood screen and stage actor in his youth. And Jess’s a French-Canadian who owns the popular Jess Billiards, a favorite hangout of the resident foreigner community in Puerto Princesa.
Ted Lerner, longtime Philippine resident, author, and billiards journalist, served as that evening’s ring announcer.
The audience, overwhelmingly Filipino of course, was very polite as the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo, was played.
This was going to be the tenth fight of the Filipino, Dado Cabintoy. His record going into this bout: eight wins and one loss.
The boxers were competing for the vacant WBC international bantamweight crown. Being a title fight, it was a 12-rounder.
Bruce lives in Angeles City, Pampanga (Philippines) and travels the world officiating fights as both referee and judge. He’s officiated several of Manny Pacquiao’s bouts. For instance, he was the referee at Pacquiao’s first attempt to defend a title (and it was only a minor title in the flyweight division) way back in 1997. Note: Manny won.
It was Pacquiao’s first title. He was the OPBF flyweight champion.
The Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) is a regional confederation consisting of; Australia, Fiji, Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of China, Samoa, Thailand, Tonga, and some of the former Soviet republics in Asia. The OPBF is affiliated with the WBC and is a valuable regional title to be held by boxers in the affiliate nations. Winning the title helps towards earning a high ranking in the rankings of the WBC, which can ultimately lead to a title shot.
Get ready to r-u-m-b-l-e!
This was going to be Hiroki’s eighth fight and his first overseas (i.e., his previous seven fights all occurred in Japan). His record going into this bout: six wins and one loss.
“Get-go” is an American colloquialism that means from the start.
It was controlled mayhem. Then the bell rang.
Thirty seconds later…
Look past those legs and you’ll see the yellow chaleco of Elorde Boxing. Yeah, whatever. Let’s see what round it is again.
Nimble, flexible, and athletic
I’m referring, of course, to the ring card girls. It isn’t easy bending through those ropes while holding a long pole and balancing on platform shoes.
There were men on both sides who helped them but the girls were always in control.
I did have trouble focusing my camera though.
What we take for granted
The simple act of taking steps is so complex that robots have only lately been developed that can “walk.” The U.S. military has a working prototype. Walking like a person is so challenging in fact that the best “walking” robots today still need four legs.
Bipedal locomotion, which is what we humans do, is still on the drawing board.
The 165-pound (75-kilogram) BigDog represents a major step forward for legged locomotion, a problem whose complexity had frustrated engineers, even prompting some to believe it was impossible to solve. How, for example, could a robot know where to place each foot when walking? “The problem seemed too hard; it just didn’t seem like it could be done,” said a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.
That should’ve put things in perspective. Now we can truly appreciate these next images.
The secret to such superior technology lies in these limbs…
and a strong back.
Who’s the better walker?
When time stands still
Boxing rounds are three minutes long but when you’re watching a fight live, three minutes seem longer.
Clinches were infrequent during the first eight rounds but after that…
In boxing, a clinch is when one or both boxers holds the “opponent’s body with one or both arms to prevent or hinder punches.”
Beads of sweat were now visibly flying off from their punches.
By the ninth round, it was clear that both boxers were exhausted. Then it became a contest of wills. One more throw. One more feint.
The fight ended in the 11th round. Both fighters were determined and equally matched. In the last two rounds, both fighters were running on fumes (i.e., no more gas–just vapors–figuratively speaking). It ended in a technical knockout (TKO).
Dado went down. Not once but twice.
He gets up and the fight resumes.
But less than 10 seconds later, Dado gets knocked down. Again!
Dado stands up but he’s dazed. Bruce talks to him.
And just like that, it’s over.
But before Hiroki’s camp can lift and give him a victory parade, Hiroki crashes to the ground.
Look at him and you can see how close he was to losing too.
Both boxers received a warm round of applause. It was clear that the audience knew that they had seen a real fight and appreciated it. There were no boos or jeers. Nobody threw soda cans. What a nice ending unlike the Pacquiao-Marquez fight.
Afterwards, I had asked Bruce whether it could have gone either way. Only if Dado had knocked out Hiroki, he said, since Hiroki was leading on points. (Both boxers were tied until the eighth round but then Hiroki won the ninth and tenth rounds.)
Thanks for the memorable evening Bruce and Ted!