Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fair Play: The Juan who could be a footballer

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Jan. 30)
FROM a distance, Juan Esquer looked like one mean fighting machine.  Moments before the fight started, as he stood there in the ring, he looked like my cousin Aris who is also my uncle.

During my birthday celebration years ago in Moalboal, my cousin, who dabbled in boxing in the Philippine Military Academy, punched me in the stomach because it was their tradition and it hurt like hell.

Juan looked like one mean fighter.

He reminded me, too, of Juan Manuel Marquez with the way he threw those punches, and the way he seemed to have a solid head and shoulders. He seemed, ready, too, to take on what Milan Melindo could throw and then some.

And, after a supporting bout that ended in less than two minutes, we were in for a showdown. Right?

Damn Juan channeled his inner Cristiano Ronaldo in what was the most comical fight I’ve ever seen—live and on TV.

ABS CBN should send clips of the fight in one of those funny shows and get a buck or few.

In the fourth round, Juan got hit in the family jewels and yes it must have hurt but I don’t think it warranted the show he put up—rolling across the court, attempting to stand and failing a few times.

And that was just the start of the performance worthy of an academy.

In the seventh round, after an exchange near the corner, Juan was writhing again, holding on to his family jewels and referee promptly waived the fight off.

Perhaps Juan’s corner should have reminded their boxer—dude, there’s a damn giant screen monitor in the venue!

And what did the replay show? Juan hitting Melindo below the belt and El Metodico hitting the Mexican on the chest, just about where my cousin Aris hit me.

And there was Juan, holding on to his balls as if his life depended on it, writhing in pain, milking it for all it’s worth only to get disqualified by the referee.

I was with my kababayans Doc Joel Pascual, whose son Paolo plays for the national team and Global FC, and Mark Concha.  Prior to watching the boxing match, the two were at the Azkals Sports Bar and Grill to catch the latest UFL action.

And we all had the same thought. “Football player siguro ning Mexicano!”Doc Joel, who is also a fan of Jun Intor said, “Mas maayo pa siguro sila nag-atbang ni Flash Mongo.”

What a crappy way to end a fight.

Heck, he looked like football star Rivaldo, who, after getting hit by an errant clearance in the head—in the freakin’ head—was next seen holding on to his balls.

After the fight, Juan passed by us and he was still pointing to his balls. But when it was time for pictures, the darn Mexican looked like a tourist on a stroll that I’m wondering if he’s still laughing on the way to the bank.

Have you ever been in a group who were having a picture taking and somebody got left out? And that somebody ran to the middle of the pack as the photographer was counting 1..2..3.”

Juan did that and more. He even grabbed Donnie Nietes to have a picture with him, and somebody up in the balcony shouted, “Tumbaha na Don!”
While talking to Donnie, he was pointing to his balls and for a minute I was afraid he’d actually show ‘em to the world champion.  There were a couple of girls, too, who had no plans to have a picture but Juan wouldn’t have it, so he grabbed them.

This from a guy who said during the press con that he was going to show Melindo a real Mexican fighter? Nuts!

And when ring announcer Ted Lerner said they still had a trophy to award—for the winning team in the Philippines vs. World contest—the jeering got so loud he had to say, “No it’s not for the Best Actor.”

While Juan was a disappointment, I liked what I saw in Melindo, who didn’t let the Mexican’s antics go into his head.

He kept his composure and he didn’t rush his punches the way other boxers out to score points with the crowd, would.

I also liked Lorenzo Villanueva, who pummeled Diego Ledesma in the first round for his 22nd knockout in 23 straight wins.

As for Esquer?  Unless he’s facing Flash Mongo, he can keep his cajones in Mexico.

But thanks to him, I forgot all about the Australian Open women’s finals results.

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