(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson - “Marvelous” Marvin Sonsona enjoyed a brief reign as WBO superflyweight champion and yielded his throne on the scales after failing to make the 115-pound limit for his first defense against Alejandro Hernandez in Ontario, Canada, last weekend.

Sonsona, 19, was stripped of the crown only 77 days after he dethroned Jose (Carita) Lopez to become the Philippines’ second youngest world titlist ever (after Morris East) last September.

Although no longer the champion, Sonsona went on to battle Hernandez and the fight was declared a split draw. If Sonsona had been even half the shape he was in for the Lopez bout, he would’ve knocked out Hernandez for sure.

Sonsona’s consolation is he’s not the first Filipino world champion who didn’t experience a successful first title defense. There were, in fact, 23 others in the history of Philippine boxing – namely, Eric Chavez, Manny Melchor, Ronnie Magramo (in his second reign as WBF minimumweight titlist), Eric Jamili, Joma Gamboa, Florante Condes, Rolando Pascua, Noel Tunacao (abandoned the IBO minimumweight title), Bernabe Villacampo, Frank Cedeno, Dodie Boy Penalosa (as IBF flyweight champion), Jesus Salud (stripped of the WBA superbantamweight title for refusing to face challenger Luis Mendoza in Colombia), Bobby Berna, Rico Siodora, Orlando Villaflor (abandoned the WBF featherweight title), Rene Barrientos, Miguel Arrozal, Andy Ganigan (abandoned the WAA lightweight title), Amado Cabato, Roberto Cruz, Pedro Adigue, East and Dondon Sultan.

The shortest reign ever by a Filipino world titleholder was recorded by Arrozal who won the little-known WBB (World Boxing Board) lightweight crown via a ninth round stoppage of Aaron Lopez at the Lucky Eagle Casino in Rochester, Washington, on Oct. 2, 1998. He lost the throne to John Palaki on a sixth round technical decision in the same venue on Dec. 11, 1998. His reign lasted only 70 days.

Roberto Cruz also had a short-lived stay of 86 days as WBA junior welterweight king. He knocked out Mexico’s Raymundo (Battling) Torres in one round to claim the vacant throne in Los Angeles on March 21, 1963, then lost the title in his first defense to Eddie Perkins in Manila on June 15, 1963.

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Here are 10 tips for Sonsona to consider for the future:

• No alibis. No matter what happens in a fight, Sonsona should assume the responsibility of the outcome. Against Hernandez, he claimed he hurt his left hand in the third round and that’s why the Marvelous One couldn’t score a knockout.

Even if true, he should’ve just kept quiet about it – nobody could care less. The fact was he didn’t make the weight, was stripped of the title on the scales unglamorously and disgraced himself.

• Consult a nutritionist. Sonsona is a growing boy. Canadian promoter Allan Tremblay said he shot up an inch and a half since September. He wants to jump to the superbantamweight or 122-pound division but his reason is hardly scientific. It’s gut-feel. Sonsona must find out what is now his natural fighting weight. Should he stay as a superflyweight or move to bantamweight or even superbantamweight? Perhaps, the reason he failed to make the superflyweight limit was lack of discipline in training, not the natural evolution of his growing body.

• Get serious in the gym. Sonsona’s manager Dr. Rajan Yraola said the fighter often played around during workouts. Sonsona must realize that training for a fight is serious business. Just look at how Manny Pacquiao drains himself in the gym. No matter how good you are as a fighter, you’ve got to stay serious in training. There is a time for fun and a time for serious work. Sonsona must understand the difference.

• Don’t overestimate yourself. After winning the WBO title, Sonsona probably felt he was the new Pacquiao – invincible, indestructible and invulnerable. At 19, he’s got a lot to learn as a fighter and Sonsona must realize he’s got a long way to go before becoming another Pacquiao. He should open his mind to learn new things, to improve his craft.

• Never take your opponent lightly. Hernandez was coming off a loss to Wilbert Uicab and his record of 22-7-1 was far from impressive. Besides, the Mexican was ranked only No. 15 by the WBO and ignored by the other governing bodies. Sonsona could’ve thought that Hernandez was a patsy compared to Lopez. If he took Hernandez lightly, Sonsona paid dearly for it.

• Keep your feet on the ground. There was talk that Sonsona reported late for training camp because he missed three straight flights from his base in General Santos City. It seemed like Sonsona was swept off his feet by his own feat and stayed floating in the air before the scales brought him back down to earth. Sonsona must learn how to handle good fortune or else, it won’t be good for long.

• Listen to your trainer and manager. Sonsona can’t do it alone. He’s still wet behind the ears. Sonsona should listen to sage advice from trainers Dodong Donaire and Jun Agrabio and Dr. Yraola. While he’s got a mind of his own, Sonsona must appreciate he’s too young to fend for himself at this stage of his career. Donaire, Agrabio and Dr. Yraola aren’t in the business for the short haul. They’re in the game to make a difference.

• Learn to say no. As a budding celebrity, Sonsona must know when to say no. While in Toronto a week before the Hernandez fight, Sonsona was feted nearly everyday by the hospitable Filipino community. It’s possible he couldn’t turn down his hosts out of respect and ate more than he should’ve eaten. The fans will understand if a fighter keeps to himself before a fight. There will be more than enough opportunities to bond after a fight.

• Don’t rush. Haste makes waste. Sonsona shouldn’t be pushed for another title shot right away, not knowing what his natural fighting weight is. He’s only 19, after all, with a lot of fighting years ahead of him. It was reported that he’s being lined up to battle unbeaten Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr. for the vacant WBO 122-pound title in February. Perhaps, the prudent thing to do is to arrange a series of tune-ups for Sonsona at his new weight – if he moves up – before taking the plunge against warriors like Vasquez.

• Stay fit all year round. A fighter’s life isn’t easy. There are no short-cuts to working hard. Sonsona must remember that he’s a full-time fighter with full-time responsibilities. He can’t afford to stray from a Spartan lifestyle. He can’t get soft. All throughout the year, he should be in tip-top condition, check his weight, regulate his diet and train. At any time his manager calls, he should be ready to answer the bell. Sonsona is lucky that despite failing to make the weight, his record is still untainted by a loss. He narrowly escaped defeat in drawing with Hernandez. But unless he shapes up, Sonsona may not be as lucky the next time around. If Sonsona was once Marvelous, he is now Marveless. It’s all up to him how to bounce back. His fans don’t want to be disappointed again.

Corteza, Orcullo reach knockout stage By Abac Cordero-

[PHOTO AT LEFT -  Dennis Orcullo JOey Mendoza, MANILA PHILIPPINES]

MANILA, Philippines - Lee Van Corteza made everything look so easy last night, posting a 9-0 shutout of Chinese-Taipei money-game king Yang Ching Shun to reach the knockout phase of the World 10-Ball Championship at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Corteza, winner of seven gold medals in the Southeast Asian Games from 1999 up to 2005, pounced on a very early miscue by Yang en route to the victory that provided one of the high notes for the locals in the second day of competition.

It was the second win in as many days for the 30-year-old Corteza who scored a 9-4 win over Norway’s Vegar Kristiansen the other day. The Pinoy cue artist nicknamed “Banban” (which could mean patsy in Filipino) is now in the Final 64.

“He earned the break in the first rack but scratched. From that miscue I went up 3-0,” said Corteza, who could have won $1,000 on the side if his opponent, very steady in money games, had not pulled out the wager at the last minute.

“It was almost set until he decided that we do the money game after the tournament. But it’s okay,” said Corteza

It was the first shutout win so far in the 128-man tournament.

Corteza said he’d be happy to see at least six Filipinos (of the 19) making it to the knockout phase, but hoped that if they ever crossed paths it would be in the latter part, at least in the Final 8.

Joining Corteza in the next round was Dennis Orcullo who defeated Poland’s Thomas Kaplan, 9-5. It was a big win for the FIlipino considering that Kaplan was the same player who defeated top-seed Ralph Souquet of Germany the other day.

Still, Orcullo said he’s not satisfied with his game yet.

“I haven’t played well yet. I’m still adjusting to the table because the cloth is too smooth. But I will get used to it,” he said.

Defending champion Darren Appleton of Britain also advanced to the next round with a 9-2 win over MB Alias of Brunei, same as Kuo Po Cheng of Taipei with a 9-5 win over Mario Tolentino, and Kenny Kwok of Hong Kong, a 9-3 winner over Ben Nunan of Australia.

Ronnie Alcano, the 2006 World 9-Ball champion, lived to fight another day following a 9-5 win over compatriot Demosthenes Pulpul. They set up an early clash between two local favorites after they both lost their matches last Wednesday.

Souquet averted an early exit following a 9-3 win over Steve Villanil of the Philippines.

Dang Jin Hu of China, who looked so happy after beating Alcano, 9-7, on opening day, kept the smile on his face as he made it to the Final 64 with a 9-5 win over Johnny Archer of the United States.

Jomar de Ocampo, who stunned Taipei’s Wang Hung-Shiang the other day, ran out of luck against China’s Li Hewen and dropped a 9-6 decision. But he still has a chance to advance as long as he wins his next match.

Fifth-seed Shane Van Boening of the United States was the tournament’s first big casualty. After losing to Vietnam’s Nguyen Tuan, 9-8, Boening took a more painful 9-6 loss to Fonstantin Stepanov of Russia.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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