By Ryan Songalia
Just as quickly as Malcolm Tunacao burst onto the global scene, it seems as if he disappeared just as fast.
After winning the WBC flyweight title by avenging Manny Pacquiao’s knockout loss with a knockout of his own over Medgoen Singsurat in 2000, his reign was brought to an abrupt end with a first round TKO loss to Thai legend Pongsaklek Wonjongkam less than a year later.
He was just 23 at the time, and now, at 32, he’s ready to give it another run at a world title.
The Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines native Tunacao (27-2-3, 16 KO) who now competes as a bantamweight has lost just once since then on a close technical decision in 2007 and is ranked in the top 15 of three of the four major title belt organizations.
Tunacao hopes to springboard to another title shot with a win over Japan’s Daigo Nakahiro (21-3-1, 8 KO) on February 5 at the Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan.
But the road back hasn’t been paved in gold. Tunacao overcame a right hand injury that kept him out of boxing for a year and change in 2007. The injury wasn’t sustained in the ring, however.
“I stop in boxing for two years because of my family problem,” said Tunacao, referring to his divorce a few years back. “My right was injured because I punched the mirror.
“I didn’t practice for a long time, but now I’m OK.
“I can move on now.”
Tunacao, is now based in Kobe, Japan after signing with Japanese promoter/manager Masahito Yamashita and has benefited from being in good company in the gym, including WBA featherweight champion Hozumi Hasegawa and former 115 pound titlist Nobuo Nashiro, with whom he spars.
Tunacao will be risking his OPBF belt, a regional title in Asia, against Nakahiro, who is a crowd favorite in Japan. Both have faced Hidenobu Honda, with Tunacao stopping him in five this past November while Nakahiro took a majority decision.
Nakahiro lost on a decision to their other common opponent, Wonjongkam.
From Japan, Tunacao supports his three children, including a 14 year old daughter and two boys, aged 11 and 9. “The people are very nice here, especially my manager and my gym mates. Also the food [is good].”
If Tunacao has his way, his next bout will be against WBA bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno.
“I would fight him toe to toe and attack his body,” said Tunacao.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMANews.TV and the Filipino Reporter newspaper. From January through April, he will cover the Daily News Golden Gloves tournament for the New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] . An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia .