by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Former World Boxing Council minimumweight challenger Denver Cuello scored an impressive 3rd round TKO victory over resilient Sammy Hagler of Indonesia to strengthen his bid for a world title shot at reigning champion Wanheng Menayothin of Thailand.
Before a huge crowd of fight fans at the Angono Municipal Gym, Cuello showed his famed punching power as well as hand-speed, good movemennt and pinpoint accuracy.
Cuello caught Hagler coming in with a left hook in the opening secods of the first round and sent the Indonesian boxer reeling for the first knockdown of the scheduled ten round bout.
Hagler continued to charge forward and connected with a looping right hand but was soon tagged by Cuello with a vicious right uppercut and a left hook that staggered the game Indonesian who was saved by the bell after Cuello ripped into him with a three-punch combination.
Cuello opened the third round by digging a solid left into Hagler's body and then connected with a series of punches which ended with Hagler losing his mouthpice but that only gave the outclassed Indon a brief respite as Cuello clubbed him with a left to tnhe side of the head and followed up with a three-punch combination that sent Hagler staggering backwards with referee Virgilio Garcia calling a halt to the bout at 2:39 of the third round.
It was an exciting fight while it lasted and while Hagler appeared hurt but ready to continue, there was a feeling that the stoppage was premature but referee Garcia was obviously concerned with the condition of Hagler who was sooner or later going to be knocked out and in the final analysis made the right call.
Cuello's manager Aljoe Jaro was pleased with the performance of Cuello and told BoxingScene/Manila Standard/Viva Sports that he would talk to WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman at the premier professional boxing organization's Annual Convention in Las Vegas in mid-December about a possible title shot for Cuello next year.
With the win Cuello who is ranked No. 4 by the WBC improved to 35-5-6 with 23 knockouts while Hagler dropped to 18-28-2 with 3 knockouts although his record hardly indicates the quality of the opponents he lost to.
Cuello dropped a twelve round unanimous decision to China’s Xiong Zhao Zhong at the International Trade Center in Dubai on June 28, 2013 and told us he “fought with one hand after he suffered a dislocated rotator cuff” early in the fight.
But Cuello, the hard-hitting southpaw said “I’m back and the fans will see the old Denver Cuello” following surgery by a team of doctors at the Makati Medical Center who he said “helped a great deal along with broadcast-journalist Chino Trinidad and manager Aljoe Jaro. They want me to get back to the top.”
In a pre-fight interview with reporter Mark Israel of Viva Sports, Cuello said his last fight in Davao was after almost one year of recuperation and therapy following surgery and said “my comeback fight was good. My opponent from Thailand, Jaipetch Chaiyonggym, was resilient” even though he retired in the 7th round last October 11 in Davao City.
He said “ after that win I returned to training and sparred with Rex Tso the Hongkong superstar”who is also trained by Aljoe Jaro. Cuello indicated “ I am not afraid that it (my shoulder) will be dislocated again” even as he thanked his manager “for his faith in me.”
Former WBC flyweight champion Sonny Boy Jaro who is scheduled to battle champion Carlos "Priuncipe" Cuadras of Mexico on February 14 figured in a "stay busy fight" against rugged Danilo "Pit Bull" Pena and won a comfortable eight round decision.
Sonny Boy fought a relaxed fight against Pena who had knocked him out in the 4th round in their first meeting and although Pena connected occasionally with looping lefts, Jaro controlled the bout with good combinations to the body and head to win handily on the scorecards of Judges Gil Co and Gerald Tomeldon who had it 78-74 and Ferdinand Estrella who had Sonny Boy the winner by a wider 79-73 margin.
The win boosted Jaro's record to 38-13-5 with 27 knockouts while Pena fell to 26-21-2 with 11 knockouts.
Pena apologized to Viva Sports who covered the fights for the top-rated weekly boxing show "The Main Event" telecast at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays over Pinoy Box Office (PBO) on Sky Cable with a replay at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, for his f ailure to win and said he hadn't trained long enough for the fight which he accepted on short notice.