Nonito Donaire MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, MARCH 25, 2009 (STAR) The country’s best boxers in 2008, led by World’s Best Pound for Pound champion Manny Pacquiao and three Boxers of the Year, will be honored in grand rites during the 2008 Gabriel “Flash” Elorde Memorial Awards-Banquet of Champions starting at 5:30 p.m today at the Manila Hotel Tent City.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson will be the guest of honor and speaker during the awards ceremonies which will play homage to the country’s world, international and national boxing champions as well as outstanding amateur boxers and personalities in various categories.

Pacquiao, who is in the US training for his May 2 bout with Ricky Hatton, will be accorded a special award as the World’s Best Pound for Pound Boxer, having received seven consecutive top boxing awards which earned him a place last year in the Elorde Boxing Hall of Fame.

The Boxers of the Year are world champions Gerry Peñalosa (WBO superbantamweight), Donnie Nietes (WBO minimumweight) and Nonito Donaire (IBF flyweight). Major awards will be conferred on 47 international champions and 16 national titleholders in various divisions.

Pacho Villa, the world’s greatest flyweight champion of all time, will be posthumously enshrined into the Elorde Hall of Fame. This will be the first time the country’s three greatest boxers in the last 100 years - Elorde, Pacquiao and Villa - will be honored on the same occasion. Lacson and the Elorde clan, led by Elorde’s wife Laura, will present the awards. Liza Elorde and ring announcer Ted Lerner will be the masters of ceremonies.

For the first time, amateur boxing will be given due recognition, with Olympian and veteran Southeast Asian Gamer Harry Tañamor, the country’s gold medalist in the World Championships, the first to receive such an honor erstwhile conferred only to professional boxers since the inception of the Awards eight years ago.

An amateur competition between the Philippines and Thailand presented by ABAP has also been included in the boxing extravaganza which will serve as a side event of the Elorde Awards Night-Banquet of Champions. The boxing event dubbed “Duel at the Tent” scheduled in between the awards presentations, also features the first women’s world championship ever held in the country.

Filipina Gretchen Abaniel faces Nongbua Lookprai Aree for the vacant Women’s International Boxing Association minimumweight title. Vinvin Rufino will defend his featherweight crown against Jaime Barcelona while Juan Miguel Elorde, grandson of Flash Elorde will see action against Ronilo Romasanta.

The Elorde awards, now on its ninth year, is presented by Johnny Elorde Management International and Elorde Sports Foundation and supported by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, SMART, Alaxan, Tanduay, Family Rubbing Alcohol, Lonsdale and the Manila Hotel.

Pro, amateur boxing spices up Elorde rites Updated March 22, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Boxing matches featuring amateur and pro fighters from the Philippines and Thailand will spice up the ninth Gabriel “Flash” Elorde Boxing Awards – Banquet of Champions at the Manila Hotel Tent City March 25 starting at 5:30 p.m.

The matches are the sidelights of the annual Elorde Boxing Awards, held to pay tribute to Filipino world, international and national champions on the occasion of the 74th birth anniversary of Da Flash, the greatest junior lightweight champion (1960-67) of all time.

The annual event, sponsored by PAGCOR, SMART, Alaxan, Tanduay and Family Rubbing Alcohol, will honor Manny Pacquiao as the best Pound for Pound Boxer of the World and will elevate posthumously Pancho Villa, the world flyweight champion during the 1920’s, to the Elorde Hall of Fame.

Villa is the second boxer to be elevated to the prestigious boxing award body after Pacquiao was enshrined last year.

The Elorde clan, which is hosting the awards, recently partnered with the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) and SMART Communications to present a dual match between the country’s top amateur fighters and former national youth champions of Thailand.

Amateur standouts and medalists seeing action are Bill Vicera vs Surapun Srimuang at 48 kgs., Francis Palicte against Kriangkrai Kaewnongsamed at 51 kgs., Charly Suarez vs Ekkawong Sangrueang at 57 kgs. and top female fighter Annie Albania vs Ratree Krongkarp at 54 kgs.

Pro fights will feature the first world female championship fight in the Philippines between Gretchen Abaniel and Nongbua Lookprai Aree for the vacant Women’s International Boxing Association (WIBA) minimumweight crown.

In the supporting mainer, RP featherweight champion Vinvin Rufino defends his title against top challenger Jaime Barcelona, while Juan Miguel Elorde, grandson of the late Flash Elorde, battles Ronilo Romasanta for four rounds and Joram Ballar faces Elmar Francisco in a six-round bout.

Businessman-promoter Johnny Elorde, who is overseeing preparations for the event, said the amateur bouts were approved by ABAP.

The young Elorde, a former amateur SEA Games gold medalist himself, said the amateur bouts, which will be featured for the first time during the annual awards rites, will give the fighters good exposure.

Those interested to watch the fights and meet the champion boxers may call tel. Nos. 8264463 or 825065 and 09175330459 for details.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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