By Chris Williams: The victory for Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) eliminated his only appealing fight at bantamweight last weekend in beating WBA champion Nonito Donaire by a 12 round decision in Saitama, Japan. A real test for Inoue would be for him to move up to 122 and take on WBO champion Emanuel […]
LAS VEGAS — WBO junior featherweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete scored his second stoppage win in four weeks with a comprehensive fourth round stoppage over Juan Miguel Elorde.
The Filipino challenger, the grandson of the great Flash Elorde, was looking to counterpunch, but the champion took over in round two. He was having fun with his left, helping himself to jabs, hooks and uppercuts to Elorde’s body and head.
The Filipino began to look forlorn and weary by the end of the session. Navarrete, now 29-1 (24 knockouts), was just too big and too strong to keep off.
“I’m happy because I think I put on a great performance,” said Navarrete. “Fortunately, my opponent is okay, and I came out here to put on a show. I hope the fans enjoyed it on my very first Las Vegas show on Mexican Independence Day Weekend. ‘Vaquero’ Navarrete is here to stay. The most important thing here was that it was a good performance for me.
“I think the referee did the right thing. He’s going to go home to his family, and everything is going to be okay. It was a good performance on my behalf and he gave what he could. At the end of the day, I came away with the hard-fought victory.”
Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Elorde was taking a beating through the third and shipped a big left hook and a heavy right near the bell. Blood leaked from his nose and referee Russell Mora ruled the ropes kept him up before issuing a count.
You could have argued the fight should have been stopped between rounds but Elorde, so brave, too brave, went back out for the fourth and Navarrete continued where he left off. It was uncomfortable to watch as the champion sought the finish until Mora thankfully intervened. Elorde (28-2, 15 KOs), looked heartbroken but he should be grateful that he was allowed to last just 26 seconds of the round.
Jose Zepeda won the eagerly-anticipated super lightweight clash with veteran Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza, earning a decision 97-93 across all three cards.
La Puente’s Zepeda improved to 31-2 (25) while Pedraza drops to 26-3 (13), but it was so tight Zepeda said he’d like a rematch.
“It’s probably one of the best days of my life,” said Zepeda. “It’s Mexican Independence Day. I was giving everything for Mexico.I guess persistence [was the key to victory]. The people here were giving me excitement to go get him, to go after this guy. We knew that he was a hell of a boxer. Thank God I’m the third one that beat him. The other two were elite fighters. I’m happy for that.
“There were talks that maybe the winner of this fight would go after [Jose] Ramirez. For me, the rematch, I would have that. It was a very close fight. A lot of people thought I won, a lot of people thought he won. I would love a rematch. I think the people would love it, too.”
It was a close, feeling out-type opener. Southpaw Zepeda, from La Puente, California, was looking to change angles and attack while Pedraza, from Cidra, Puerto Rico, was trying to invest to the body.
The action started to pick up towards the end of round two, with Pedraza exchanging from the southpaw stance. In fact, he opened the third left handed as he looked for openings but when he changed back to orthodox he ate a straight left.
Zepeda got his left hand motoring and landed a right into Pedraza’s side during a successful third round.
Pedraza was readily switching stances, Zepeda was looking stronger in close. They battled on even terms.
Zepeda broke through in the seventh, scoring with a flurry of shots that promoted Pedraza to fire back and land a good left of his own, but Zepeda was looking bigger, stronger and more assertive.
Pedraza, swollen by the left eye, was alert defensively, not allowing Zepeda to over-run him and moving smartly as the ninth ended and Zepeda tried to pin him down. They banged heads and blood was spilt in the 10th but Zepeda remained on top, even if he didn’t manage to break Pedraza’s spirit.
“It was a very good fight,” said Pedraza. “He looked very well, and I just couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to do. Nothing came out the way I wanted. The instruction from my corner was to throw more punches, but nothing was going my way.This was my debut at 140. I felt good. I will meet with my team to evaluate if we stay at 140, or if we move down in weight.”
By Aragon Garcia: Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury weighed in at 254.4 pounds on Friday for his 12 round fight on ESPN+ against undefeated Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin for their fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The action starts at 11:00 ET on ESPN+ this Saturday night. Wallin weighed 236 pounds, and […]
LAS VEGAS – In throwback fashion, Emanuel Navarrete makes the second defence of his WBO junior featherweight title in the space of three weeks at the T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.
The Mexican, who’s now 28-1 (24), stopped Francisco De Vaca in three in California on September 14, meets Filipino Juan Miguel Elorde – grandson of the great Flash Elorde – and while he wants the big fights at 122 pounds, he’s on borrowed time at the weight.
Navarrete and Juan Miguel Elorde. Photo by Mikey Williams / TOP RANK
“I battle a little bit [to make weight], but I feel well,” he said, after facing off with Elorde at the final press conference. “This year and maybe two more fights next year and that will be it at 122.”
He reckons that in his career he could go as high as 140 pounds, but he wants the big fights before focusing his attentions elsewhere.
“I want to do my best at 122 and as long as my body permits it, but if not I will move up and I have a great career ahead of me,” he added.
But he will not call anyone out. Other champions at the weight include Rey Vargas and Daniel Roman. He’d like both but stopped short of naming names.
“The guy that gives me the opportunity [is who he wants to fight] and whoever wants the fight first,” he said. “I want to face the champions.”
And while he knew there was a chance to appear on this Mexican Independence Day weekend show, he was aware he had to get rid of De Vaca first. Even then, he wasn’t sure that he’d make it to Vegas.
“I was very surprised but I knew it was a great opportunity so we had to train harder, I took a day off and got back in the gym,” he continued. “If he [Bob Arum] lets me I’m going to fight in December too. I’m going to give it my all and show I’m doing everything the right way.”
Vargas will be an interested spectator at ringside on Saturday.
“Thank you for bringing him so you can see who he’s going to face,” he said to his promoter.
Navarrete rose to prominence by defeating Isaac Dogboe in an upset, and then defeating the Ghanaian again in a rematch.
Now he’s the A-side, but that doesn’t change anything in his mindset.
“Not at all,” he said. “I train hard the same way no matter if I’m the favourite or not.”
Two days before lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury takes the mantle of Mexican Independence Day Weekend headliner against Otto Wallin, the co-feature bouts took center stage at a press conference. (Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank ) Emanuel Navarrete will make the third defense of this WBO junior featherweight title against Juan Miguel Elorde, grandson of […]
Tyson Fury sure knows how to dress for the occasion. Fury, the lineal heavyweight champion, entered Tuesday’s media workout in a traditional lucha libre wrestling mask. Fury will defend his title against fellow unbeaten Otto Wallin Saturday at T-Mobile Arena as part of the Las Vegas’ Mexican Independence Day Weekend festivities. WBO junior featherweight world […]
As the grandson of boxing legend Gabriel “Flash” Elorde, there was no avoiding the sport for Juan Miguel Elorde. It was everywhere he turned as a kid, with his parents operating the Elorde Gym (which Flash himself founded) and promoting local boxing cards. When Ronnie Magramo, one of their boxers, used to fight abroad, “Mig” Elorde would carry the Philippine flag into the ring.
Elorde was even in the history books he studied in second grade. “They’re saying ‘oh it’s your grandfather, he’s famous,’” Mig Elorde remembers of his classmates’ reactions. Him and his older brother, Juan Martin “Bai” Elorde, would go down to the gym to watch the fighters, and then “spar” when their parents weren’t around.
Despite their family history, Johnny and Liza Elorde weren’t receptive when Mig and Bai expressed interest in getting in the ring themselves for some amateur fights.
“I did not want my children as a mother to be boxers because my first idea is you’re hurting each other,” said Liza Elorde. Johnny, one of Elorde’s seven children, deferred to his wife on the matter. That’s when Mig and Bai elevated the matter to the Supreme Court of the family, Laura Elorde, their grandmother and the widow of Flash Elorde.
“Eventually she said ‘OK, it’s just amateur,’” remembered Liza, who imposed her own condition on the agreement.
“They just said as long as you graduate from your school [you can box],” said Mig Elorde.
Now, 52 years after Flash Elorde’s seven year reign as junior lightweight champion ended, Mig Elorde (28-1, 15 knockouts) has the opportunity to bring a second world championship to his family when he faces WBO junior featherweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete (28-1, 24 KOs) on September 14 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The bout will serve as the co-feature underneath the Tyson Fury-Otto Wallin main event on an ESPN+ card promoted by Top Rank.
Yet while Mig Elorde grew up idolizing his grandfather, a 1993 International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, and bares a strong familial resemblance to Flash, he grew up far differently. Flash Elorde was a hardscrabble youngster from a small town in Cebu province, scraping by an existence shining shoes and washing dishes before becoming a national icon, a Manny Pacquiao of the 60s before Pacquiao was even born.
From left: Elorde brothers Nico, Bai and Mig. Photo by Liza Elorde
Mig Elorde, 32, had few of those struggles, and played basketball for his school until seventh grade, when the boxing itch got to him. He fought four times as an amateur, winning three times, while taking off two years after the first bout to focus on his studies at College of St. Benilde. He graduated with a degree in restaurant and hotel management and now co-owns a pair of businesses with his older brother Bai: Southpaw Grill, a restaurant right in front of the Elorde Gym in Sucat, Paranaque City, and the newly opened Flash Wash, a laundromat in nearby Muntinlupa City.
Top boxers come almost exclusively from poor backgrounds, in the Philippines and elsewhere, but Elorde doesn’t think that is the lone indicator of fighting success.
“It’s on your dedication, it’s not whether you’re rich or poor, it’s how you love the sport and how you perform,” said Mig Elorde. “For me it’s just my dream, I want this to become my reality. I want to become a world champion.”
The Elorde brothers were invited to join the national amateur team but shortly after joined the pros, with Bai (24-2-1, 11 KOs) making the jump in 2007 and Mig following a year later.
Mig Elorde ran his record to 10-0 before stepping up in competition against the likewise undefeated Jerry Guevara in 2011. It was his first bout in Las Vegas, the night before Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez a third time. Fighting outside of home territory for the first time got to him, and perhaps the pressure of representing his famous surname as well. He lost a unanimous decision in the four rounder.
“Maybe I was too excited, thinking about the fight a lot. Especially the pressure, the pressure is always there,” said Elorde. “After the fight I gained a lot of experience.”
At a time when he could have walked away from boxing as something he just needed to get out of his system, his father, a 1979 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, gave him the encouragement to keep going.
“[Mig] was so depressed, but Johnny said ‘You’re just starting, if you want to be a champion you have to strive even more,’” remembered Liza Elorde.
“Flash” Elorde made his mark on the sport as 130 pound champ from 1960-1967, but Mig says his favorite fight was his 1956 rematch with Sandy Saddler for the featherweight championship. The fight was another close one, a rematch of Elorde’s win the previous year in Manila in a non-title fight. Saddler, using every trick in the game, had bloodied the shorter Elorde to the point of stoppage in the 13th round.
“He was bleeding but was still fighting,” said Mig Elorde.
Mig never met his grandfather, who died a year before he was born at age 49, but his mother says there are many similarities between them.
“Almost all of the children followed in the footsteps of Daddy, not only in terms of charity but because they are so religious. Mig goes to mass every Sunday and holiday,” said Liza. “And he’s so quiet, he’s not really a talker, he just smiles, those characteristics are also characteristics of Daddy.
“He’s so simple he doesn’t buy shoes…sometimes it takes years before he changes some of his rubber shoes.”
Mig Elorde also shares an interest in helping the poor children of his community. When he was younger, he’d invite the children at St. Rita Orphanage – which was established with funding from “Flash” Elorde – to their house for his birthday. He’d invite the street children to watch his training, and provide food and a place to bathe for them. He also would join family trips to Tondo – one of the poorest areas of Metro Manila – to help feed the local children.
“Up until now, they are usually coming with us to serve children in the poor areas,” said Liza Elorde.
Since his only loss, Mig Elorde has won 18 straight, though his competition has mostly been against overmatched Southeast Asian opposition from Indonesia and Thailand.
Navarrete, 24, of Mexico City is a significant step-up from that level. Picked as a voluntary defense for Isaac Dogboe’s New York debut last December, Navarrete pulled the upset, using his relentless pressure and five inch height advantage to wear down Dogboe for the unanimous decision win. He replicated the effort in May, dropping the former champion twice before the fight was stopped in the twelfth. He then followed that up earlier this month with a third round blowout of Francisco De Vaca.
Elorde, the no. 2 contender, says he only found out about the fight a week ago, but had already been in training for a fight on September 21. Asked to name a fighter in his camp who can mimic the same style of the swarming Navarrete, he pointed to Giemel Magramo (23-1, 19 KOs), a flyweight contender and the nephew of Ronnie.
The challenge will be for Elorde to hit Navarrete hard enough to gain his respect early to keep the champion from pushing the pace early, Elorde says.
Switching schedules, Elorde convened with trainers Toto Laurente and his father Johnny, plus Dan Rose, an American “performance coach” from Emporia, Virginia. Rose had worked with several teams in the Philippine Basketball Association, and met the Elorde brothers in 2011 through their brother Nico, a pro basketball player who was playing college ball at the time.
Rose does conditioning work, helps with nutrition, and works to keep the athletes motivated.
“Mig’s so quiet but if you look in his eyes you see that look that most elite athletes have. Not all elites are boisterous or showy,” said Rose. He says that Elorde keeps in shape year round, and believes that will keep him in good standing throughout the fight.
“From what I understand the reason they keep Navarrete in the ring is because he will go up in weight soon so keeping him active is the best thing for him so apparently he has some weight issues,” said Rose. “He’s only 24 so his body is put in a state that it naturally don’t want to be in.
“It’s gonna be interesting to see how he fares against someone just as tall as him and whose body is used to being at weight.”
It’s one thing to fight in the comfort of ballrooms named after his grandfather, surrounded by family and supporters from his neighborhood. Returning to the bright lights of Vegas, which hadn’t been kind to him in the past, to face a heavy favorite, will be his biggest test to date.
“It’s really a big pressure. All of the people are expecting a lot from us,” said Mig Elorde. “It’s hard to protect the name of Elorde but my parents always told me not to think of the pressure.”
This is what he’s wanted since he first found out who his grandfather was, and what he meant to people. Now it’s up to Mig Elorde to show how much he wants it.
“I want to prove that I can also be like [my grandfather],” he said. “Even though it’s hard, I want to prove to everyone that I can also be a world champion.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Struggling to locate a copy of The Ring Magazine? Try here or Subscribe
You can order the current issue, which is on newsstands, or back issues from our subscribe page.