Fair Play: Boom-Boom

THE injustice of it all was written all over Rey Bautista’s face.

He just went seven rounds with a tough hombre in Heriberto Ruiz, one of two guys to have beaten him, got cut twice—with one the size of Texas—and after Rico Navarro announces he won, he got booed?

Grimacing, not from pain, but from searching for words as he spoke in Tagalog about the win, his words were drowned by a loud wave of boos from the upper section, which at the start of the fight was cheering him on.

Strangely enough, it seemed Boom-Boom was apologizing for winning.

When he got off the ring, I and a few other reporters got to approach the boxer and while some were asking questions, I couldn’t help but cringe at the meanest cut I’ve ever seen.

Boom-Boom said Ruiz used the same tactics in their first fight but I kept hearing Gary Sinise saying “blunt force trauma to the head…three inches…this guy sure had a rough day at the office.”

How bad was the wound? It was so deep the other side was caving in, while the other was protruding and, being a squeamish kind of guy, I had goose bumps when I stupidly took a closer look.

So, did Boom-Boom deserve to be booed? Frankly, I don’t know. I think Boom-Boom won the first round, while Ruiz got the second. Rounds three to seven? It’s for the more knowledgeable guys like Al Mendoza and Jingo Quijano to analyze.

One point though, Boom-Boom went gun-shy in the middle rounds and had it gone the distance, I fear some demonstrative fan could have knocked out his seatmate while screaming, “USE THE JAB, BOOM!”

If the main event was disappointing, Jason Pagara’s fourth-round win sure more than made up for it. For most of the three rounds, Pagara was telegraphing his one-twos but surprised his foe in the fourth with an uppercut, then that left cross that sent Juan Carlos Gallego to dreamland.

Veteran writer Erwin Lirazan—who is, by the way, an accomplished musician—said Pagara’s punch is like Pacquiao’s Manila Ice, which knocked out Ricky Hatton and Nonito Donaire Jr.’s signature KO punch that downed Vic Darchinyan and Fernando Montiel.

Before that, Pagara was in trouble as he already had a welt under his eye due to the Mexican’s punches.

Then Gallego learned how Hatton, Darchinyan and Montiel felt when they saw a left from out of nowhere end the fight.

FINAL CUT. Coach Michael Weiss has released the 23-man lineup who will be in Germany for the final training camp for the Azkals World Cup qualifiers against Sri Lanka.

Those who made the cut were Neil Etheridge, Edward Sacapano, Aly Borromeo, Stephan Shrock, Roel Gener, Anton del Rosario, Ray Jonsson, Jason Sabio, Dennis Cagara, Manuel Ott, James Younghusband, Jerry Lucena, Emelio Caligdong, James Rochlitz, Paul Mulders, Ricardo Becite, Nestorio Margase, Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado, Misagh Bahadoran and Nate Burkey.

Burkey and Rochlitz were discovered during the US tryouts with two others. One got injured while the fourth one, according to team captain Aly, was prevented from going to the Philippines by relatives who warned him of threats of kidnapping, bombing and shooting. That sucks, but good riddance, eh?

Jason de Jong also didn’t make it and based on the off-court issues the midfielder is facing, it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of him in an Azkal uniform. Unless ,of course, he shapes up.

Another new name in the team is Dennis Cagara, and I admit, I’m not thrilled to see this guy.

The PFF has been courting Cagara since 2004 and the former Denmark U21 player has always turned the team down, never showing any interest that he’s willing to play for the flag. But I guess, now that’s he made the team, I hope he gets the chance to prove skeptics, like me, wrong.

Paul Mulders is also a new find, one team manager Dan Palami is very excited about. He reportedly plays in the first division of Holland and was a graduate of the vaunted Ajax youth system.

Curiously enough, when Dan first mentioned his name to me over lunch, I was still so hung over I thought he was talking about the X-Files.


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