By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Blunders by the officials ruined two good fights that headlined promoter Sammy Gello-ani's blockbuster fight card on "Pinoy Knockout," the inaugural program over AKTV IBC 13 from the Hoops Dome in Lapu Lapu City on Saturday night.
Marvin Sonsona was given a tough test by Carlos "Thin Man" Fulgencio of the Dominican Republic but just when the action was heating up and southpaw Sonsona dropped Fulgencio with a picture-perfect left uppercut referee Tony Pesons waved the fight off and claimed he had reached the count of ten signaling a knockout in favor of the Filipino amidst the protests of Fulgencio and to the surprise of fight fans.
Fulgencio who wasn't even glassy-eyed stayed down as many fighters do to maximize their recovery time and was clearly up at the count of nine but referee Pesons decided otherwise and ended the bout at 1:41 of the fifth round.
Sonsona who came in at 128 pounds which was six pounds over the super bantamweight limit after Fulgencio's handlers said he weighed 127 on arrival after a long and tiring flight and didn't want to reduce agreed to an overweight bout since it was not a title fight.
Much was expected of Sonsona and he didn't disappoint, often throwing vicious body shots but to his surprise Fulgencio who once went the distance with super flyweight champion Abner Mares hardly flinched and came back with flurries of his own that surprised the former WBO super flyweight champion.
Both fighters were guilty of low blows as they concentrated on working to the body, Sonsona in the first and Fulgencio in the second.
Fulgencio, tried to break down Sonsona mentally by showing that the Filipino's body shots didn't hurt and even showboating at times to prove he didn't feel the power of Sonsoa's punches.
Sonsona clearly threw more combinations and the far more telling blows although Fulgencio didn't back off and helped make it an entertaining fight until Sonsona caught him with a cracking left uppercut that dropped Fulgencio on the seat of his pants.
The Dominican Republic fighter didn't appear to be badly hurt and was surprised when referee Pesons ruled a KO when he hadn't counted to ten which is a basic requirement to send the message that a fighter failed to beat the count.
It was a disappointing end to an enthralling contest that could have gone the distance and given Sonsona a real test.
While the former world 115 pound champion won by a knockout he certainly didn't look anywhere like a world-beater and has a lot of work to do, including watching his weight and his training regimen before promoter Sammy Gello-ani decides to give him a possible title shot.
Except for the perfectly timed uppercut, Fulgencio handled Sonsona's power and his combination punches quite well and won the admiration of Filipino fight fans.
WBO World Youth and WBO Asia Pacific flyweight champion Froilan "The Sniper" Saludar scored a comfortable ten round decision over Mexico's Alejandro "Terrible" Morales in a bout where the ten second clapper was sounded with around two minutes to go in the round and the bell signaling the end of the 10th round sounded ten seconds later making it a much shorter round than the specified three minutes to the surprise of referee Bruce McTavish, the consternation of the fans and the distresss of promoter Gello-ani.
There was never any need to shorten any of the rounds as a matter of fact because the hometown boy Saludar was in cruise control and eventually won by a 98-92 margin on the scorecards of all three judges - Salven Lagumbay, Edward Ligas and Edwin Barrientos.
Saludar nailed Morales with a stinging left jab throughout the fight and a deadly right hand that sent the Mexican's mouthguard flying in the opening round and then again in the sixth.
Saludar staggered Morales in the fourth round with a series of hard rights behind his left jab but the game Mexican recovered and tried to fight his way out of trouble with winging right hands.
The composed champion hurt Morales once again in the 9th round with a series of big right hands although the Mexican got back at Saludar with a right of his own in the abbreviated tenth round.