By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Big time boxing returns to the famed Smart Araneta Coliseum, the “Mecca of Philippine Sports & Entertainment” when ALA Promotions in cooperation with the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN stages “Pinoy Pride XXIII” on November 30.
Banking on the storied history of Philippine-Hispanic boxing, the card will be titled “Filipinos contra Latinos.”
ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer who leaves for the US on Wednesday to finalize details for setting up a gym in San Diego and acquiring a residence for the ALA trainers and fighters to stay, told the Manila Standard that the mega fight card will feature title defenses of WBO light flyweight champion Donnie Nietes and WBO minimumweight champion Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo against top opponents.
Spicing up the blockbuster card will be three ALA fighters who have headlined the tremendously successful “Pinoy Pride” series in the past – world rated and former title challengers AJ “Bazooka” Banal, Milan Melindo and the promising young Jason Pagara.
The Araneta Coliseum has had a memorable history of boxing beginning with its inauguration in March 1960 when Gabriel “Flash” Elorde scored a spectacular 7th round knockout to win the world junior lightweight title from American Harold Jones before over 30,000 screaming fight fans.
It was also the site of the greatest heavyweight title fight of all time between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on October 1, 1975 in a historic event that had the world riveted to Manila for several weeks and is a fight people continue to talk about even today.
Aldeguer is confident that the November 30 card will bring back the huge crowds that used to throng the Araneta Coliseum when Elorde, Rene Barrientos, Ben Villaflor, Erbito Salavarria and Bernabe Villacampo among others drew huge crowds in the glory days of Philippine boxing which have seen a revival since ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN teamed up in a mutually rewarding partnership