MANILA, JULY 13, 2007
(STAR) By Joaquin Henson Friday, July 13, 2007 IBF minimumweight champion Florante Condes is being lined up for a voluntary defense in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera rematch at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Oct. 6.

Condes’ manager Aljoe Jaro told The STAR yesterday he personally spoke with Pacquiao on the phone the other day to ask if there could be a slot in the pay-per-view show for the newly crowned titlist from Romblon.

Jaro also said Solar Sports chief operating officer Peter Chanliong would take up the possibility of including Condes in the Mandalay Bay program with Pacquiao’s US promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank.

Condes, 27, has never fought in the US and in his first overseas bout, floored Muhammad Rachman twice en route to scoring a split 12-round decision for the IBF crown in Jakarta last Saturday.

The exposure in Las Vegas would introduce Condes to a global audience, said Jaro, and enhance his marketability.

Jaro said contrary to a recent report in a Jakarta newspaper, he never signed a contract for Condes to fight Rachman in a rematch in December.

“I told Rachman’s promoters (Fandy Sugiarto and Torino Tidar) I’ll think about a rematch,” said Jaro. “But I didn’t make any commitments. They asked what it would take and I laid out my conditions, including a $150,000 purse, five-star hotel accommodations and one option. Nothing is final at the moment. It’s not true that I signed a contract for a rematch.”

Jaro said Condes could defend the title against a choice challenger in Las Vegas then face Rachman in December in Manila or Jakarta.

Condes was paid only $3,700 for the Rachman bout because his US representative Dante Ortiz failed to show up in the purse bidding conducted by the IBF in New Jersey last April. Rachman’s group, Warriors Promotions, bid $25,000 and won the rights by default, leaving Condes no choice but to accept a paltry purse. The fight was thrice postponed before Rachman finally set a date for the fight for fear of being stripped of the title.

Ortiz, a Puerto Rican based in Las Vegas, told Jaro he would add $8,300 to Condes’ purse to round off his paycheck to $12,000 but never delivered. Condes signed a two-year contract with Ortiz last September but Jaro said he will try to rescind it for non-compliance.

“I spent $5,000 of my own money to set up the fight in Jakarta so the purse Condes got wasn’t even enough to cover my expenses,” said Jaro. “Condes’ dream is to build a house in Romblon for his mother, who is sick. His budget is P500,000. I plan to make him earn that in his first defense.”

Condes said when Rachman began to rally in their fight, all he could think of was his dream house. It’s what kept him going.

“Condes got tired after the sixth round,” recounted Jaro. “He hardly fought back as Rachman won the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds. I told Condes in between rounds to fight back or else the referee (Wayne Hedgepeth of New Jersey) might stop it. Luckily, Condes found his second wind, knocked down Rachman in the 10th and swept the last three rounds.”

Condes, the youngest of six children, lost his father to tuberculosis before he turned pro in 2002. He takes care of his mother Juanita whom Jaro brought from Romblon to live in a Cainta apartment and stay close to her son.

“All Condes thinks of is his family,” said Jaro. “He doesn’t like to spend on himself because he’d rather keep his money to build a house. He doesn’t even own a cellphone. I text his girlfriend Diana, who works in the Cainta municipal hall, for him. Now that he’s a world champion, he hasn’t changed. He commutes to visit his mother. He’s one of a kind, very hard-working. Once, I saw him working out in the gym at midnight because he couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to waste the time. He can lift 190 pounds, that’s why he’s so strong.”

Condes had a brief amateur career and was brought by boxing referee Rudy Dalisay to Jaro who took a chance on the hard-hitting slugger. Jaro never regretted taking Condes in.

Condes and Bernabe Concepcion are Jaro’s prized protégés. The fighters live in Jaro’s home in Binangonan, Rizal. Concepcion, 19, is unbeaten in two US bouts so far and will meet Gabriel Elizondo for the vacant North American Boxing Federation superbantamweight title in the Erik Morales-David Diaz undercard in Chicago on Aug. 4.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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