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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Donaire and Pagunsan shine—but not Marcial

ONE won in America, the other in Japan.

In a stunning performance that deftly defied Father Time, the 3-1 underdog Nonito Donaire knocked defending champion Nordine Oubaali out in the fourth round to capture the World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight crown.

Donaire’s telling 27th knockout victory in his 47th fight in two decades or so awesomely shocked the world because it made the 38-year-old Filipino Flash the oldest bantamweight (118 lbs) world champion in history.

“The human body is an incredible machine,” said Donaire, scoring two knockdowns in the third round before finishing off his unbeaten French foe of Moroccan descent (17-0, 12 KOs) in the fourth round of a scheduled 12-rounder in Carson City, California.

“Age is just a number,” said Donaire, now a proud five-division champion after winning world titles in the flyweight, super-flyweight, super-bantamweight and featherweight divisions since first crowning himself a world champion 14 years ago.

So overjoyed was Donaire—his vaunted left hook floored Oubaali three times, the third a crippling uppercut to Oubaali’s chin that left him plastered and flustered against the ropes where the referee waived him off—that the Bohol-born Nonito declared a wish to unify the belt ASAP.

“I want a rematch against Inoue [Naoya],” said Donaire, itching to avenge his defeat that saw him inflict a broken eye socket to the Japanese in November 2019.

Surely, that’s one fight worth looking forward to.

Over in Japan on Sunday, Juvic Pagunsan, 43, won the Mizuno Open, beating local hotshot Ryutaro Nagano by a comfortable three strokes at the JFE Setonaikai Club in Okayama Prefecture.

The win ended Pagunsan’s 10-year losing drought, finishing second seven times before bagging his breakthrough triumph in the tough Japan PGA Tour where the likes of Filipino legends Ben Arda and Frankie Minoza made their marks decades back.

It made him P5.2 million richer—his biggest paycheck ever—coming when Pagunsan perilously played without a caddy due to health protocols.

And, holy smokes, the win will bring Pagunsan back to the British Open, set this July at Royal St. George’s after the pandemic canceled golf’s oldest tournament last year.

Pagunsan will have a chance to improve on his 72nd finish after surviving the cut in his first Open in 2012 at the Royal Lytham & St. Anne won by my friend, Ernie Els.

But the weekend wins were somewhat blemished by Eumir Felix Marcial’s loss in Dubai as the country’s best bet for boxing’s gold in the Tokyo Olympics bowed to the unheralded Saidjamshid Jafarov of Uzbekistan.

It was made more embarrassing by the lopsided 5-0 loss, prompting boxing chief Ricky Vargas to describe it as a “most heartbreaking performance” since Marcial was the No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Is Marcial’s litany of rants against alleged lack of financial support for him taking its toll, distracting him and losing focus on the Olympic goal at hand?

The Tokyo Games is just seven weeks away. Marcial has a lot of catching up to do.

THAT’S IT   Happy birthday today (June 2) to Coach Dayong, one of the assistant coaches at San Miguel Beer of the Philippine Basketball Association. Cheers!

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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