By JM Siasat
MANILA, Philippines- He was once heralded as the next Manny Pacquiao. A young super bantamweight hailing from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines. He boasts punching power in both hands. When he fought, Filipinos watched hoping to see a highlight reel knockout. Many people doubted the prophecy, many believed. His name is Rey "Boom-Boom" Bautista, and no he did not live up to expectations.
The Boom-Boom Bautista (34-3, 25KOs) hype died as fast as it rose up. A technical knockout defeat in his world title fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon in 2007 and a unanimous decision loss against Heriberto Ruiz in 2008 has left Bautista's world title hope in shambles. With time and youth in his side, Bautista went on with his boxing career and managed to bag an 8-fight winning streak.
In his last outing in April 20, 2013 against Mexican journeyman Jose Ramirez, Bautista took his 3rd professional defeat in front of a home crowd, losing the 12 round contest by split decision. The public outcry for Bautista to retire was louder than ever, citing his inability to perform at world class level and stagnant fighting improvement.
In the Bautista-Ramirez fight video uploaded on Youtube by user Jerome Naldoza, Filipino boxing fans made fun and expressed their disappointment in Bautista.
Translated in english;
John thebaptist: "Boom Boom is a moron! All he does is cover! He's really an idiot! He deserves to lose! I thought you're a badass when fighting but no you're a moron! You're too weak sir! Your opponent is small and you still lost! You're an idiot! Don't box anymore.. Be a balot vendor!"
Yulan Balaga: "That sh*tty Boom-Boom.. Doesn't know how to evade punches, he think he's hard. He can't be in Pinoy Pride, he's done. Just work on a punching bag".
Samuel Dayandayan: "Annoying Boom-Boom can't even evade punches. What was the
purpose of your training, just to lift your fist? Even your head doesn't move. Much better for you to retire".
But it wasn't just the fans, ALA Promotions head honcho and Bautista's promoter Michael Aldeguer, publicly stated that he needs to hang them up.
But we are talking about Boom-Boom, a kid who literally grew up in the famed ALA Boxing Gym, trained and fought his way to professional prizefighting. Putting all negativity and criticisms aside after a year of hiatus, Rey "Boom-Boom" Bautista is set to return on May 10 on the undercard of Donnie Nietes-Moises Fuentes WBO world light flyweight title fight in Pasay city, Philippines.
"The plan was to take a vacation, not retire," said Bautista. "I grew up here (ALA Boxing Gym) and they're in pain when I'm not happy. Boxing is my passion, I'm still fit to fight".
Bautista's efforts in boxing did not go to waste. His lucrative paydays were properly invested in building a house and establishing businesses. Truth be told, unlike many other pros, Bautista does not need boxing to make a living.
"The prize money is good, but I'm not just fighting for the money. I fight because it's my passion," told Bautista who earned his family's blessing in his ring return. "If they (my family) will prevent me from fighting then I'll them let's look for a fight in the streets".
Bautista says he had too many problems to think of and his focus was not in boxing when he last fought. There were days when he can't rest nor sleep and that making the 126lbs featherweight limit became too much to bare. For his upcoming fight against Sergio Villanueva (26-3-2, 13KOs), Bautista is moving up to super featherweight (130lbs).
"My mindset going into this fight is not think that I took a vacation. I will train, fight and just go on as if nothing happened. My body is longing to trade punches" says Bautista who learned a valuable lesson not to blow up in weight between fights.
ALA Boxing Gym's long time trainer, Edito Villamor, is happy and supportive of Bautista's return. He portrayed Bautista as a loyal boxer who is now more mentally matured. "Training camp is good, we'll see a more determined Boom-Boom this May 10" said Villamor. "We'll see how he does in May 10. We'll see what future lies ahead after his performance".
After 37 professional fights and a fair share of failures, Bautista feels very positive about his return. To him, boxing is his sanctuary and fighting is what he does best.
"I think I can still go places and reach new heights in boxing. My trainer and promoter never turned their back on me. I just want to continue fighting" said Bautista.
JM Siasat is a freelance boxing journalist based in Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at [email protected]