Marquez trainer Heredia proves to be Dapudong’s “angel”

Edrin Dapudong and Gideon Buthelezi. (Photo courtesy of Ronnie Nathanielsz)

Angel “Memo” Heredia, who was considered “an evil one” especially after he served as strength and conditioning coach of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, turned out to an “angel” for newly-crowned International Boxing Organization junior bantamweight champion Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong.

Dapudong scored a spectacular first-round knockout over South Africa’s champion Gideon Buthelezi in a rematch at the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg last Saturday, avenging a bitterly-criticized split decision in favor of Buthelezi at the same venue last November.

Following a flood of protests, initially by the manager and longtime benefactor of Dapudong, former North Cotabato governor Manny Pinol and bitter criticism by both the South African media as well as the Philippines, IBO president Ed Levine had no hesitation in ordering a rematch.

Pinol had warned Dapudong that the only way he could win the title in South Africa which has earned a reputation for hometown decisions was to knock Buthelezi out which is exactly what the poor farmer’s son from North Cotabato did in sensational fashion.

Buthelezi, drawing strength from scores of supporters, appeared confident as the two fighters sized each other up.

Dapudong ripped a vicious left to the body and Buthelezi dropped his guard for a moment. The Filipino immediately nailed the champion who didn’t even see the follow-up devastating left hook. Buthelezi’s head swiveled and he was out even before he landed on the canvas.

Referee Byrd immediately called it “over and out” as the South African’s handlers rushed to his aid. The time was 2:39 of the opening round.

Dapudong who had cried when he lost a bum decision to Buthelezi last November burst into tears of joy the moment he realized he had avenged his loss in one of the most sensational opening rounds seen in South African boxing for a long time.

When Yahoo! Philippines contacted an ecstatic Pinol shortly after the fight had ended, he let us in to what he said was “a secret” which was to subsequently raise a minor furor.

Apparently unknown to Pinol, Los Angeles-based physical therapist Jeff De Guzman had been communicating with Heredia whom he had befriended and “sought his advise on how to handle Edrin’s nutritional requirements before and after the weigh-in” which any boxing trainer would know is crucial.

Turns out De Guzman had been communicating with Heredia through email and telephone. The advice paid of handsomely as Pinol noted “a change following Dapudong’s food intake.” The fighter himself said he “felt different and no longer sluggish.” His performance proved it.

De Guzman came into the picture in what Pinol described as “a twist of fate” since he was a last-minute substitute for manager/trainer/promoter Aljoe Jaro who was in Dapudong’s corner in the first fight, but couldn’t make the trip since he had to attend a press conference in Dubai.

Faced with the problem of finding somebody who didn’t need a visa to travel to South Africa to work in Dapudong’s corner, Pinol called up De Guzman, knowing that he held a US passport which, in the end, turned out to be a blessing.

The link to Heredia was somewhat of a bizarre twist since Pinol himself was suspicious of Heredia after he served as strength and conditioning coach of Marquez in his crushing 6th round knockout of Pacquiao.

Pinol, like other Filipinos, had suspected that Heredia introduced “something” that gave Marquez more power than he had shown in their three previous fights. He admitted that at the time he conjured an image of Heredia as “evil” and someone who may have spiked Marquez’s food and drinks with performance-enhancing drugs that led to Pacquiao’s crushing defeat.

RELATED: Pinoy pug Edrin Dapudong wins IBO jr. bantamweight crown

In fact, the ex governor said he “never thought he would be associated with Heredia” even by long distance, text messages and emails.

Pinol conceded, however, that “the advice worked because even Dapudong himself confirmed that he felt lighter and more agile because of the programmed food and nutritional intake.”

But the involvement of Heredia sparked unfounded accusations that Dapudong used PED’s in his fight against Buthelezi, to which Pinol reacted angrily saying he was “appalled at reckless and sweeping accusations.”

To set the record straight Pinol detailed the “secret” nutritional formula which Heredia gave Jeff De Guzman through email and “WhatsApp” so the public would know.

1. Heredia advised De Guzman to allow Dapudong to take in food and avoid the old practice of really starving the boxers to the point that they are famished.

2. Heredia told De Guzman to be watchful of the water intake and to make sure that the night before the weigh-in, Dapudong must not be given water to avoid weight problems. True enough, Edrin tipped the scale at 114.2 lbs., way below the 115 lbs. limit but he was not famished or very dry.

3. Heredia "overhauled" the old practice, especially by Filipino boxers of gulping down a lot of water and devouring a lot of food, especially rice, right after the weigh in. Instead, he asked De Guzman to measure the water intake because excessive water intake could make the boxer sluggish on fight night, he said.

4. For the food after the weigh-in, Heredia instructed De Guzman to give Dapudong bananas and apple first and to avoid heavy food. This was followed by a light meal of pasta and sweets consisting ice cream and chocolate cake.

5. Instead of the usual Gatorade which most boxers take right after weigh-in, Heredia recommended Hydrites mixed with water.

6. The heavy meal consisting of a huge steak with rice was given to Dapudong at night before he went to bed. Heredia said this would allow the boxer to store the food which will help him regain strength on fight night.

7. Breakfast the following day was light and pasta and vegetables were again given to Dapudong for lunch and bread as snacks before the fight.

To Pinol and Dapudong, Heredia’s advice was “revolutionary” compared to their own practices,  pointing out that in the past “our boxers would have a feast of beer broth with a lot of soup and rice right after weigh-in. Water intake was unlimited and even salty food was given to the boxers.”

Trainers at the Braveheart Gym and the Pinol brothers often wondered why their fighters were “very slow in the ring, panting and gasping for breath” in contrast to Dapudong who told him after the fight “I felt light and I was able to move quickly.”

Pinol attributed this to “Heredia’s Secret Nutritional Formula” which to him “made a lot of sense.” He had instructed De Guzman to extend his thanks to Heredia for his help although Pinol made it clear he “couldn’t say this was the same thing Heredia did to Marquez." But as far as Dapuidong is concerned no (instructions on) PED’s were emailed or sent through ‘WhatsAPP.’ My boxer’s post-fight urine tests will prove this. It worked for Dapudong and we will do the same routine the next time he fights, with or without “Memo” Heredia sending the instructions through email.”

Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.