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A Tale of Two Marvins



by Ana Julaton

In the Philippines, striving to do your best and staying humble is not an uncommon trait.How many times have we heard Manny Pacquiao say. “I’m just doing my job…I want to make the people happy.”

Here in the United States of America, it’s no different. Many Filipino people follow those same principles of honor and humbleness. As a proud Filipino-American, I am always excited to see our culture breaking barriers.

On Friday, I was able to speak to a couple key players for the HBO PPV show in Madison Square Garden tonight. One is featured as the co-main event, and the other as the co-trainer in the main event bout of the evening.

On May 2nd, I was in front of 20,000 people at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila for my ONE FC MMA fight in the Philippines, and wow, did I ever feel the unity and energy of the country. I arrived in NY this past Saturday for the Philippine Independence Day weekend Festival and was fortunate enough to have been included in the festivities with my own float and was shocked to see 150,000 in attendance to honor and celebrate the culture.

The Philippine Independence Day Council Inc. (PIDCI) along with the Philippine Consulate General of New York have built this event for the past 25 years, bringing that same unity and energy in this wonderful city. Madison Avenue was filled with Philippine cultural clothing, food, performances, and dances. This year’s theme was “Triumphs of the Filipinos” and how fitting is it that we end the week with one of the biggest fights of the year?

Much of this weekend is surrounded by the Puerto Rican Day Parade and we will see the majority of the fans tonight celebrating their fighters from Puerto Rico. But if you didn’t know, tonight’s HBO PPV co-feature for the NABF featherweight title will be Filipino knockout artist Marvin Sonsona, who weighed in yesterday at 125.8lbs, fighting Puerto Rican Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., who weighed in the same as the slugger hailing from General Santos.

You may recognize that city when Michael Buffer announces Sonsona, it’s a place in the Philippines that has become famous all because of one man, our “Pambansang Kamao” (National Fist/Fighting Pride), Manny Pacquiao.

Marvin Sonsona has had his share of ups and downs in his young boxing career. At his peak, he became the youngest Filipino to ever win the WBO world title at 19 years of age when he defeated Jose Lopez in Toronto , Canada 2009. Now at 23 years old and with a record of 18-1-1 (15KO’s), he looks to avenge the only loss of his career in a rematch against the person who derailed his rise to Philippine boxing royalty. At one point, Sonsona was being touted as the “Next Manny Pacquiao” and that all ended in Puerto Rico, in 2010, when he was KO’d via body shot by the son of a legend.

“I was just a child the first time, now he will see Marvin the man,” Sonsona told me while eating lunch with one of his promoters, Allan Tremblay, who brought the young man to Toronto, Canada, which has a huge Filipino community. “I am stronger, I feel good to be back with my original coach and original team….I feel this is my time now.” When asked if he would like a KO tonight he wasn’t shy to say he had the punching power to do so, but in his humble tone said, “If it happens, it happens. What’s most important is that I’m the true Marvin now. Not like before.”

Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. also has had his own share of up and downs, having lost to Nonito Donaire via split decision, losing the crown he had won in a fairy tale story with his legendary father in his home town of Puerto Rico, when he knocked out Sonsona in four rounds. He finds himself again much like that night in Puerto Rico in a fight that could determine his legacy in boxing. This matchup has the makings of fight of the night as both have something to prove to their countrymen and women. Although the majority in attendance will be Puerto Ricans, many Filipinos around the world will be rooting for Sonsona as he now has a chance to be the royal “Prince” of Philippine boxing.

Ironically, another Marvin is in one of the most important fights of his career…as a trainer. Marvin Somodio has been called by many, including one of his prized pupils, Ruslan Provodnikov, as the “Filipino Freddie Roach”. With a nickname like that, there is a lot of pressure, a lot expected when around the presence of a legend.

“I am just a beginner and I feel so honored to be working alongside Freddie. I am not Freddie Roach, he is a legend. I’m just Marvin Somodio and I am just beginning. I want to continue to learn more and get better everyday,” said Somodio. He is small in stature, but carries huge responsibilities in being alongside Roach in the corner of the most popular Puerto Rican fighter in the world today, Miguel Cotto.

I asked his thoughts in what Cotto will bring and with a glow of confidence, and he said, “Cotto was 50% when he first worked with Freddie and myself, now I feel he is 100%, mentally and physically.”

The 5-1 Somodio told me when he was a part of the Philippines amateur national team, the people in charge said he could no longer compete because he was “too small.” Now as a trainer, he has some of the biggest responsibilities in boxing, training champions like Ruslan Provodnikov and Brian Viloria. Should he be successful with Team Cotto against Sergio Martinez, Marvin will be able to add another notch to his growing list of accomplishments.

I asked what would his message be to other Filipino trainers who aspire to be like him. “Just be yourself and remain humble. Be loyal to the people who helped you grow and don’t lose faith and believe in yourself,” he said. Great advice from someone who started his professional career as a trainer at an elite level, working alongside Freddie to prepare Manny Pacquiao during training camps in Baguiao. Marvin still remembers the days when he was just a humble trainer at the Shape Up Boxing club. Tonight, he finds himself in the same position for Cotto as he did in the corner of the most influential fighter to Filipinos worldwide.

For me and many other global Filipinos, it’s been a pride-filled week in the beautiful city of New York….from seeing 150,000 Filipinos from around the world in a Parade closing Madison Avenue, culminating with seeing two Filipino’s in boxing tonight in our sports biggest stage: one as a fighter and one as a coach.

In 2014, we now have so many ways to contribute as Filipinos “just doing our jobs…making people happy” in all aspects of life and it makes me tear a little bit seeing how far we’ve really come.

As the song, the theme from the film “New York, New York,” said: “If we can make it here, we’ll make it anywhere.”



2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura



The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.



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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score



This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.


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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland



On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda


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