[PHOTO AT LEFT - Marvin Sonsona MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, OCTOBER 13, 2009 (STAR) By Joaquin Henson -  Canadian fans were so impressed with newly-crowned WBO superflyweight champion “Marvelous” Marvin Sonsona’s win over Puerto Rican veteran Jose (Carita) Lopez that Orion Sports Management president Allan Tremblay has offered the 19-year-old Filipino a six-fight contract for two years to be a mainstay at the Casino Rama in Ontario.

But Sonsona’s manager Dr. Rajan Yraola said yesterday he’s inclined to negotiate on a fight-to-fight basis. However, the General Santos City southpaw’s next bout will be his first title defense against Mexico’s Alejandro (Payasito) Hernandez in a Tremblay promotion on Nov. 21.

Dr. Yraola said he’s keeping his options open for Sonsona’s mandatory defense against No. 1 contender and European champion Ivan Pozo of Spain in February in Manila.

Last Sept. 4, Sonsona floored Lopez enroute to wresting the WBO 115-pound diadem via a unanimous 12-round decision at Casino Rama. It was the Filipino’s first outing overseas and first fight where he went beyond five rounds. It was also the first time that the 5,200-seat Casino Rama was packed to the rafters for a boxing event as at least 1,000 fans over capacity were accommodated on a standing-room-only basis.

“Marvin made quite an impression on Mr. Tremblay and the Canadian public,” said Dr. Yraola. “About 30 percent of the crowd was Filipino but the fans came from all over. The venue is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from downtown Toronto. Mr. Tremblay gave us a six-fight offer. We agreed to do the first defense in Casino Rama again to pay back Mr. Tremblay for his faith in Marvin. But we’re excited for Marvin to make his mandatory defense before his countrymen in February.”

Dr. Yraola said neither Top Rank nor Golden Boy gave Sonsona a chance and it took Tremblay to stage the fight against Lopez on the advice of co-promoter Sampson Lewkowicz.

Sonsona arrived in Ontario 10 days before the fight and trained alongside Canadian hero Steve Molitor for a day in the gym to be introduced to Canadian fans. He would’ve flown in earlier but a visa glitch delayed his departure from Manila.

“The Canadian fans were surprised how a teenager like Marvin could fight like an experienced pro,” said Dr. Yraola. “Marvin doesn’t just have style but he’s also good-looking. I’m hoping he’ll keep his feet on the ground because he’s got a lot of fighting years ahead.”

It wasn’t a walk in the park for Sonsona against the veteran Lopez who turned pro when the Filipino was only one year old. Sonsona decked Lopez in the fourth round with a vicious right hook but the Puerto Rican recovered to stun the Filipino with a right straight just before the bell. Lopez pressed the action from the fifth to the eighth as Sonsona appeared to lose steam. Then, Sonsona found his second wind to finish strong. The judges’ scores were 116-109, 115-110 and 114-111 as two points were deducted from Lopez for low blows in the seventh round by referee Rocky Zolnierczyk.

“Lopez had a good counter right straight and Marvin had difficulty scoring with his uppercut,” said Dr. Yraola. “We knew it would go 12 rounds because Lopez is really tough but we felt it was important for Marvin to score at least a knockdown. Luckily, he did it.”

Dr. Yraola credited Sonsona’s trainers Nonito (Dodong) Donaire Sr. and Jun Agrabio for their hard work. “Dodong’s mid-fight adjustments were critical,” he said. “Dodong worked on Marvin’s distance fighting with jabs and combinations while Jun concentrated on the inside. Dodong also helped out in Marvin’s conditioning, introducing drills and exercises that he learned from the US. Dodong proved he’s a maker of champions. The way Marvin fought, it reminded me of how Dodong’s son Jun-Jun fights.”

Dr. Yraola said Sonsona showed only 70 percent of his potential against Lopez and is capable of bringing more to the table. “Marvin himself admitted he didn’t do his best and I think that’s a mark of a fighter who’s maturing,” said Dr. Yraola. “He wants to improve. He’s not satisfied with how he is now. That’s a positive sign for a champion who’s only 19.”

Sonsona resumed training in the Quezon City gym owned by Dr. Yraola last week and would’ve joined Manny Pacquiao in Baguio if not for the impassable highway due to flood waters.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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