Fair play: Retire, with your head unbowed, Boom-Boom

EVERYbody loved Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista as a young fighter.  And sadly, the then 21-year-old fighter who won his first 23 fights would learn, that everybody loves a promising fighter, until he loses.

From being the most-loved fighter, Bautista, I think became the most maligned fighter in boxing forums after his first-round loss to Daniel Ponce de Leon, called names by keyboard warriors who’d faint at an Internet staredown.

I asked Boom-Boom, at first what he thought of the criticisms, especially the one on him having a glass jaw.  His response was classic, “Glass jaw kung glass jaw, pero maski kinsa siguro maigo ug kusug kaayo na kumo, mawingig gyud.”

But Boom-Boom never won back most of his fans he lost after that loss, and most even began picking on some of the things they were praising. The way Boom-Boom would stand on a neutral corner, his head held high with both hands on his hips, while the ref counts down his foe. There were rumors. Lots of rumors. So many rumors that I began staying away from boxing forums.

Yes, Boom-Boom was a victim of hype and he was hyped too early by a country and media eager to search for the next Manny Pacquiao while the Pacman was at his prime.

“Greatness beckons,” I headlined his story, after his UD win over Sergio Medina in 2007 in the undercard of Oscar dela Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.  And four years later, after a technical decision against Heriberto Ruiz, it was “Boom-Boom booed!”

And now, at 26, while most fighters are still at their prime and at an age when most of his critics’ biggest worry is, “Where should I get wasted next?” Boom-Boom Bautista is pondering retirement.

Michael Aldeguer of ALA Promotions hopes fans give Boom-Boom his due, for what he did in the ring.  And I agree.

He was anointed as the “Next One,” too early and Boom-Boom never matched the hype, but still, Boom-Boom should go out with his head up high.  One of the things that really got him excited in that press con, when he was  asked about that next Manny Pacquiao thing, was when Boom-Boom, who grew up poor in Candijay, Bohol, talked about his savings account, which was nearing seven digits.

You see, like most fighters, Boom-Boom fought to get out of poverty, and unlike most, he’s successful.  He beat poverty and it’s no mean feat.

Yes, 26, is too early to retire but Boom-Boom shouldn’t think of it that way.  Confined to the boxing ring for years, now at 26, the whole world has opened up for this young man who dreamed of a better life.

Boom, chin up!



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