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OPINION

Going big in 2023

It looks like Philippine boxing is poised for a big rebound in 2023.

After seeing all of its world champions get dethroned, there seems to be something to look forward to in the coming year.

A few days ago, Vincent Astrolabio, a fast-rising bantamweight, easily disposed of Russian Nikolai Potapov in Las Vegas.

Their duel, set for 12 rounds, ended in the sixth round when Potapov failed to get up before the referee reached the count of ten.

Astrolabio had been hammering the Brooklyn-based Potapov for five rounds, sending him down twice.

There should have been another knockdown in the first round but it was ruled a slip even though it was clear that a punch by the Filipino sent the Russian down.

The victory earned Astrolabio a sure shot at the International Boxing Federation 118-lb throne assuming Japanese Naoya Inoue makes good on his promise to leave the division and campaign in the super-bantamweight class.

If that happens, Astrolabio will end up getting paired with Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico for the vacant crown.

Aside from Astrolabio, two MP Promotions talents are already on course for a shot at the world crown in March.

Ex-world champion Marlon Tapales is sure to battle Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev for the IBF super-bantam jewels while Jade Bornea has been given the go-signal to challenge Fernando Martinez of Argentina.

Martinez recently repulsed Jerwin Ancajas and Bornea is aching to exact payback.

The Bornea-Martinez clash is also being targeted for March.

In 2022, Ancajas was just one of five who saw their respective belts get taken away.

John Riel Casimero didn’t lose on top of the ring but outside.

He was stripped by the World Boxing Organization for back-to-back infractions relative to making weight.

Despite this, Casimero is determined to storm back in 2023.

Mark Magsayo was outpointed by Rey Vargas of Mexico and lost his stranglehold of the World Boxing Council feather strap.

Rene Cuarto likewise lost the World Boxing Association minimum weight diadem in Mexico.

Nonito Donaire also suffered a heartbreak when he suffered a brutal knockout at the hands of Inoue in Japan in their unification bout.

Donaire was risking his WBC title while Inoue was defending his IBF and WBA championships.

Unlike in their first meeting in 2019 when both had their big moments, the second meeting was outrageously lopsided as Inoue got the job done in just two rounds.

In ten days, 2022 is giving way to 2023.

New year, new hope.

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