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Philippines sportsCuello proves worth by halting Rachman

By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – Proving he’s ready for the big stage, WBC International minimumweight champion Denver Cuello was never threatened as he turned challenger Muhammad Rachman into a human punching bag, becoming the first man ever to halt the Indonesian veteran at a jampacked Mindanao State University gym here Saturday night.

Cuello, 23, battered Rachman, 38, from pillar to post, dropped him in the fifth round and left the visitor in a state of helplessness, prompting referee Bruce McTavish to step in at 1:03 of the ninth.

It was a one-sided affair but the proud Rachman, who reigned as IBF 105-pound champion in 2004-07, refused to retreat. When McTavish called it off,
Rachman pleaded for an extension. McTavish wouldn’t hear of it. Rachman meekly walked back to his corner, his face transformed into a grotesque mask of welts, lumps and bruises. Cuello was only six when Rachman turned pro in 1993 and the age disparity was evident in the war of attrition.

McTavish nearly ended it in the eighth as Cuello stepped up his attack, hammering Rachman along the ropes. The bell sounded with Rachman barely surviving the assault. McTavish then summoned ringside physician Dr. Fel Obial to examine Rachman in his corner. Dr. Obial saw no immediate cause to advise a stoppage. McTavish, however, told Rachman he would end it if the Indonesian soaked in more punishment without throwing back.

Cuello was a picture of class from start to finish. He was impressive in all departments. His speed was remarkable. His timing was precise. And his conditioning was excellent. Cuello kept a consistently high work rate which the flustered Rachman couldn’t slow down.

“I dedicate this win to my father (Demetrio, 56) and my brothers and sisters,” said Cuello who tagged Rachman with his first loss by stoppage after 75 fights. “I’m working very hard to achieve my goal of becoming a world champion. I know my time will come. I leave it up to my manager (Aljoe Jaro) to arrange my title shot. I’m ready right now. If I can’t fight for a world championship in the 105-pound division, I’ll go up to 108. I’ll fight the first champion who’s not afraid to defend his title against me. Every day, I’m in the gym working out. It’s not enough to just train when there’s a coming fight.”

Cuello pocketed a purse of P100,000 for the win.

“I want to stay active,” said Cuello. “Our home in Iloilo is falling apart and we need about P500,000 more to fix it. I also promised my brothers Denmark and Dizon to pay for their college education.”

Cuello is the biggest earner in the family. His father works as a letterpress operator at the West Visayas University printing press. His sister Cherry, a computer science graduate, is the oldest sibling and the unmarried 31-year-old took over the housekeeping chores from their mother Irene who died of a stroke in 2007. Another sister Cheryl is a domestic helper in Singapore.

Jaro’s close Thai friend Naris Singwangcha, 65, was at ringside to witness the demolition and rewarded Cuello with a $200 bonus. Jaro met Singwangcha at the WBC convention in Korea last year. They have since partnered in promoting the careers of stablemates Cuello, Marvin Tampus, Boydondee Pumar and Rex Tito – now all surnamed Singwangcha. The Thai real estate mogul pays Cuello a monthly allowance of $150 while the three others receive $100. He also pays out bonuses for every win.

“I visit Manila twice a month,” said Singwangcha. “I have no business in Manila. All I do is spend money on Aljoe’s fighters. It makes me happy. boxing is advanced in the Philippines. Because of Manny Pacquiao, there is a boxing fever all over the country. Boxing is to the Philippines like football is to Brazil. I used to handle several Thai world champions like Sirimongkol, Wandee and Pongsaklek. Now, I only want to promote Filipino fighters with the potential to become world champions. I’m very proud of Filipino fighters. Thai fighters aren’t recognized in the US unlike Filipinos. I dream of someday, a Filipino surnamed Singwangcha will be declared a world champion in Las Vegas.”

Cuello said from Rachman’s fight tapes, he noticed a tendency to start slowly and pick up the pace in the late going. “I didn’t want him to recover,” said Cuello. “I wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be a desperate rally.”

Rachman went to Cuello’s dressing room after the bout and congratulated the Filipino for his masterful showing. “You’ll be the next WBC champion if they give you the chance,” Rachman told Cuello, implying a conspiracy against the Filipino who slid from No. 1 to No. 4 in the WBC ladder to lose a mandatory crack at the crown.

Cuello said he leaves his fate to Jaro. “I’m not in a hurry,” he said. “My manager asked me to be patient as he’s working on my next fight, probably against the WBC No. 5 contender Wanheng Menayothin in Iloilo on Dec. 4. I might also fight WBC champion Oleydeng Sithsanerchai of Thailand. If the big names don’t plan to fight me, I could go up to 108 and challenge Giovanni Segura of Mexico.”

In other major bouts, superflyweight Marvin Tampus Singwangcha knocked out Joash Aparecio at 1:15 of the eighth round and Boydondee Pumar Singwangcha flattened Jade Yagahon at 0:49 of the first.

Over 2,000 fans paid tickets of P100 and P300 to witness the first international pro boxing event here in almost 20 years. Jaro headlined the previous card in the city, beating Roger Vicera in 1991. The school gym was made available for Jaro because he is known as a local legend. Jaro logged six fights here before moving to Manila.

City Mayor Lawrence Cruz gave his full support to the boxing revival.



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