One more Filipino fighter joined the list of international champions for the Philippines that highlighted the year 2020, a year that saw a number of either postponed, reset or canceled fights here and abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reymart Gaballo became the latest titleholder for the Philippines as he scored a stunning split decision win against Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico to claim the interim World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight title last Dec. 21 in Uncasville, Connecticut.

He was selected as replacement after compatriot and four-time world champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire tested positive for COVID-19 at least a week before the fight.

Nevertheless, the 24-year old Gaballo, a fighter from Polomolok, South Cotabato improved his perfect record to 24-0 with 20 by way of knockouts.

He thus joined Filipino champions Manny Pacquiao, the reigning WBA super champion in the welterweight division with a record of 62-7-2 (39 KOs) following a split decision win against Keith Thurman of the US last July 20, 2019.

The fighting Senator of the Philippines has opted not to fight due to the pandemic, although he has mentioned that he is willing to fight anybody once the situation is under control with vaccines available against COVID-19.

Jerwin Ancajas is the defending IBF super flyweight titlist with a record of 32-1-2 (22 KOs).

Pedro Taduran defended the IBF mini flyweight belt after a fourth-round technical draw against Daniel Valladares of Mexico last February 1 in Guadalupe Mexico for a record of 14-2-1 (11 KOs).

Johnriel Casimero likewise defended his WBO bantamweight crown with a third round TKO on Duke Micah of Ghana last September 26, which improved his record to 30-4 (21 KOs).

On the other hand, Giemel Magramo failed in his bid to win the WBO flyweight championship with an eighth-round knockout loss against Japanese champion Junto Nakatani last Nov. 8 in Tokyo, Japan.

Local organizers also had a tough time organizing events, but with the help of the government – in particular the Games and Amusements Board led by its chairman Baham Mitra – boxing meets were conducted under strict health measures in the country.

First to achieve that was Omega Sports Promotions when it successfully held an event in Mandaue, Cebu last November, while the Sanman Boxing Promotions had its own event in General Santos City.

Early this month, Quibor Boxing Promotion finally had its own event held in Rizal, Laguna.

Expect more fights in 2021 from local organizers, while more Filipino boxers will attempt to join the five champions who will likely defend their respective belts in the coming year.

Source: Manila Bulletin (