By Carlos Costa
CEBU CITY, Philippines — In an intense rough combat, tough Iloilo warrior “The Silencer” Arnel Baconaje (11-3, 8 KO’s) silenced the City of Cebu by overpowering and knocking out in eight rounds unbeaten hard-hitting Omega Gym star Tomjune “War Dog” Mangubat (10-1-1, 9 KO’s) to claim the vacant WBC Asia Silver Featherweight crown.
The bout took place at Parkmall Mandaue in the Queen City of the South, Cebu Philippines.
The climax of the war kicked-in during the dramatic action of chapter eight when “The Silencer” Baconaje landed the biggest and most powerful blow of his life: a huge overhead right punch to the left side of the head of the War Dog Mangubat, rocking him to the bones, catapulting the taller man hard down to the blue canvas, noticeably damaged, where the third man Romar Embodo delivered the fateful 10-second count for a spectacular KO win.
Entering the eight round, Mangubat was still leading in all scorecards, though bleeding by his nose, he was tiring fast, as the well-trained, well-coached Baconaje seem to be getting stronger in a melee where both warriors were deducted points for unintentional low blows.
Not-intentional head-buts also plagued this rumble due to the non-stop fierce battle, which hugely thrilled fans in attendance.
The winner and new WBC Asia Silver champ, Baconaje, was guided in his big night by experienced coaches Warren Jaro of Boxing Gym in Rizal Luzon and Marvin Somodio, assistant coach of Freddie Roach at the famed Wild Card Gym.
Those two skilled trainers seemed to have noticed Mangubat’s stamina decline after the furious exchanges in chapters six and seven, guiding their ward Baconaje in a fighting approach that capitalized on timing and the setting up of effective power punches, and it worked.
Baconaje’s awesome victory was a rewarding win for a young Filipino man who spent rough time of his life in a hard-to-endure Thailand training camp in demanding daily sparring sessions with Thai boxing superstar, WBC world champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
As for the losing warrior Mangubat, losing one fight is not the end of the world.
The 21-year-old, who was seeing afterwards with tears in his eyes, indeed proved to his teammates and fans that he is a warrior who never backs away from danger, standing in the middle of the ring trading mean power punches and putting his heart in the combat, ending wars with blood on his face.
Photos for this story were taken by Aylwin E. Cabardo, Jairus Francis Albano and Carlos Costa.
The author Carlos Costa is a Panama boxing reporter living in the Philippines. Carlos can be reached by email [email protected] and whatsapp/viber: +639184538152