By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The pullout of IBO Super Flyweight champion Edrin "The Sting" Dapudong from his first title defense against South African Lwandile Sithyatha on July 19 Manila Time in East London, South Africa was averted early Tuesday after the promoter agreed to have internationally respected referee Bruce McTavish who has lived in the Philippines for over 40 years, replace the South African referee assigned to the fight at the last minute in place of Britain’s Michael Alexander.
After Dapudong’s manager, former North Cotabato governor and journalist Manny Pinol threatened to pullout of the title defense despite the financial loss after IBO president Ed Levine informed Pinol that the British referee assigned to do the fight couldn’t make it on time supposedly due to travel restrictions.
McTavish was originally assigned as one of the three judges but his assignment as third man in the ring resulted in Ghana’s Eddie Pappoe taking his place as a judge. The two other judges for the Dapudong –Lwandile Sithyatha title fight will be Andile Matika of South Africa, Waleska Roldan of the United States.
Pinol informed Viva Sports/Manila Standard that South African promoter Ayanda Matiti called him pleading for Dapudong not to withdraw from the fight and promising that he will work for the replacement of the South African referee.
IBO President Levine later resolved the problem by his proposal for McTavish to be assigned as referee and that another foreign official (Eddie Pappoe of Gana) will replace him as judge which was accepted by Pinol.
Dapudong and the team which includes trainers Nonoy Neri and Rex Penalosa were scheduled to fly to East London at 6 a.m. today for the scheduled pre-medical and press conference at 12 noon.