Juan Siasat – Metro Manila
In some countries like England and Japan, local fighters get what they need. The media pay attention to their in-ring exploits and provide them the opportunity to show their talent on mainstream national TV. Also, one of the many things to be given props for is that these boxers get handsomely paid. Fighters from the said countries can live a normal yet munificent life being a fighter without the necessity to fight outside the country.
I can’t help but mention huge names from Europe like Amir Khan and how much media attention he was getting even before making his US debut as he was a regular attraction on British pay-per-view. From being an Olympic silver medalist in 2004, to a European prizefighter, the media was right there behind him, writing stories even after he was emphatically stopped by Breidis Prescott.
In Japan, they have the Kameda brothers (Koki, Daiki and Tomoki) who will, at times, move camp to the Philippines to get sparring and be able to focus more on training due to the massive attention they receive from the media and fans in their homeland. Their popularity is highlighted when the Japanese boxing community follow them down here to get interviews, pictures and autographs. These fighters can also get real competition when fighting on their home turf.
This is how it’s supposed to be, but not what it’s like in the Philippines. First, here in the Philippines, one should not expect to make good money… neither should they expect to receive anything more than a modicum of media attention until a boxer makes it to the USA.
When was the last time a Philippine champion got interviewed by the press and was shown on mainstream channels? When was the last time a Philippine boxing championship was given attention where the fans and media would gather and watch the fighters train? When was the last time local fighters were given a decent venue and not an open air basketball court with a boxing ring set-up on the center?
What many people fail to realise is the amount of talent there is in the Philippines. The problem is they don’t get enough attention, training, and motivation to make it on top. An average local Philippine boxer makes 1000php/round, which equates to $23 per round. How much will a fighter make depends on how many rounds he fights and if the guy is rated/ranked.
Let’s say we have an upcoming no namer, with three fights fighting for four rounds, the boxer will make $92 for the fight and that is before deductions. Also, take into consideration how many times they fight in a year and if they have a family to feed. It is little why some local boxers are so desperate to fight overseas and possibly make a career in countries like Japan.
And who will forget the infamous Lito Sisnorio incident? A boxer who struggled financially and, needing a payday, was sent, unprepared, to Thailand only to succumb to a fourth round knockout at the fists of Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in January, 2007 before suffering an even swifter stoppage two months later to Chatchai Sasakul. He died shortly after the fight due to injuries sustained in the ring.
Can we really blame these fighters? With the way these boxers are getting paid it is not hard to think they can barely put food on the table. Luckily, some promoters provide them with a place to stay and this is the part where the ALA stable is highly commendable since their fighters seems to be living well. The gray area, though, is the quality of foreign competition they pad their fighters with which can fool some fans to believe that they are the real deal… Donnie Nietes (29-1-3, 16ko) is the lone exception.
The last time we had a good Filipino versus Filipino matchup was when Drian Francisco (21-1-1, 16ko) fought Michael Domingo (42-16-3, 23ko) at the Makati Coliseum in Makati City, Metro Manila in September, this year. It represented a legitimate fight that didn’t get too much attention; a point underlined by the fact they weren’t able to fill a small arena.
The sad part was this… most Filipino boxing fans thought it was a bad idea to pit two known Filipino fighters in the ring. I personally think it is how things should be done. Fight the best Filipino fighters in the homeland then export them for overseas fights. What’s happening now are fighter records getting padded only atond be sent to foreign canvas when they are yet to be tested in a tough fight at home which thus sets them up for failure.
Furthermore, there is also a distinct lack of world class or at least quality trainers missing. Mediocre fights, poor training, lack of media attention and poor compensation looms all over the local Philippine boxing industry. I write the subject not to discourage aspiring Filipino boxers but to provide a wake-up call to the boxing community and fans who should be looking after the sport and its fighters.
What amazes me is how these fighters live their life and how some of them make a name in the sport given all the not so helpful stipulations they have to go through. For local Philippine boxing to thrive it needs more competitive Filipino versus Filipino fights, more media attention, quality trainers and proper compensation to keep them going.
I know for a fact that it is easier said than done but with the fans, media and local promoters coming together I know it can also be achievable. I wish one day these fighters will make a decent living without stepping out of Philippine soil.