Pinoy pug Edrin Dapudong wins IBO jr. bantamweight crown via crushing KO

The Philippines’ losing streak in boxing, which kicked off with the back-to-back defeats of eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao and successive setbacks of WBO/WBA flyweight champion Brian Viloria and WBO, Ring Magazine and WBC Diamond Belt super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire, has been broken. And in spectacular fashion at that.

Newly-crowned IBO junior bantamweight champion Edrin Dapudong and his team. (Photo from Ronnie Nathanielsz)

Although the International Boxing Organization may not be regarded with the same level of worldwide recognition as the major organizations such as the WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF there is one thing that has set the IBO apart.

And that is, if it sees a bum decision in a world title fight, the president has no hesitation in ordering a rematch, which was the case when Filipino junior bantamweight Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong was the victim of an inexplicable split decision loss against South Africa’s Gideon Buthelezi last November at the Emperors Palace in Johannesburg.

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In that fight, Buthelezi was badly battered and was even dropped in the ninth round but somehow two of the three judges had him winning a fight he clearly lost. American judge Michael Pernick scored it for the hometown fighter 115-113 while South African judge Tony Nyangiwe had his countryman ahead 115-112. It was only British judge Reg Thompson who saw it differently and scored the fight for Dapudong 113-112.

Dapudong’s manager and benefactor, former North Cotabato governor and journalist Manny Pinol, filed an immediate protest even as this writer also referred to several reports by South African and Philippine media boxing writers in our own appeal to IBO president Ed Levine who had, in the past, also ordered a rematch when veteran Juanito Rubillar was denied victory in a controversial loss to South Africa’s Hekkie Budler in a light flyweight world title bout.

Rubillar lost a majority twelve round decision to Budler on February 27, 2010 and after a hue and cry in the media, Levine ordered a rematch, which Budler also won in a close twelve-round split decision on June 19, 2010.

Ironically, after the first Dapudong-Buthelezi fight even promoter Rodney Berman’s website stated “Bleeding from the nose and badly bruised around the left eye, Buthelezi took a beating. But he got lucky with the judges with only Britain’s Reg Thompson scoring it for Dapudong 114-113.”

Berman’s Golden Gloves website went on, “It was rough justice on Dapudong who was the sharper and busier of the two fighters. Little wonder he looked perplexed and distraught when the scorecards were announced.”

The boxing website added, “Dapudong must have thought he had the fight in the bag when he delivered a flash nine-count knockdown on Buthelezi in the ninth round.”

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Prior to the rematch Pinol made it crystal clear to Dapudong and to anyone who cared to listen that the only way to beat the curse of hometown decisions in South Africa was to win by knockout. Dapudong took this warning to heart and trained like he never trained before and it paid off handsomely.

Gideon Buthelezi and Edrin Dapudon slug it out. (Photo from Ronnie Nathanielsz)

Hardly had the scores of Buthelezi supporters warmed their seats before their champion was knocked out cold. Their reaction was one of stunned silence.

South Africa’s Super Sport’s eminent boxing writer Ron Jackson reported that a classic, stinging left hook to the jaw by Dapudong knocked out the champion at 2:29 into the first round that was as stunning as it was spectacular.

Backed up by his noisy supporters Buthelezi eemed confident enough as both fighters sized each other up after the opening bell. But the moment Dapudong ripped a left to the body of Buthelezi, which resulted in the champion dropping his guard for a moment, the Filipino pounced on the opening.

Jackson said Buthelezi “never saw the follow-up left as his head swiveled when Dapudong’s fist connected and he was out even before he hit the canvas.”

Respected American referee Robert Byrd immediately called it “over and out” even as Buthelezi’s handlers rushed to his aid.

In an overseas telephone conversation, an ecstatic ex-governor Pinol told Yahoo Philippines “We made it, we made it. For me it was a vindication and even the South African media said the same thing in our dugout after the fight.”

Pinol informed us they would arrive in Manila at 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

In the meantime he said he would talk to promoter Rodney Berman whose Golden Gloves Promotions has three options under their contractual agreement to allow him to stage a non-title fight in the Philippines before Dapudong’s first title defense.

Pinol then let us into what he referred to as “a secret” which to many Filipino boxing fans may seem like a bombshell.

And that is that Angel Heredia, who had been a part of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez’ team prior to the fourth fight against Manny Pacquiao over whom he scored a stunning 6th round knockout last December 8, had helped Dapudong through Los Angeles-based Fil-American physical therapist Jeff De Guzman who was with Team Dapudong.

Pinol revealed that Heredia advised them about Dapudong’s “nutritional requirements” through email and telephone conversations and that Pinol noted “a drastic change following an overhaul of Dapudong’s food intake.”

He said even Dapudong told him he “felt different and no longer sluggish” and this was evident in the short time that the fight lasted.

Both Pinol and this writer recalled that the left to the body that first broke down Buthelezi was the same punch that set up highly touted Mexican warrior Jesus Jimenez for a first round knockout on June 19, 2010 in a battle for the vacant WBC Silver title in Mexico after Dapudong dropped the previously undefeated Jimenez twice in the opening round.

Pinol told us he would communicate with IBO president Levine and thank him for ordering the rematch and assigning Byrd as referee.

As Pinol himself pointed out, the victory of the 27-year-old farmer’s son from M’lang, North Cotabato also makes him the first world boxing champion from that province and the first for the Braveheart Boxing Club which is owned by the Pinol brothers.

While an IBO title may not seem as significant as a world title of the widely recognized other world boxing organizations, the integrity shown by its president, its computerized ratings system and the sensational and dominant way that a poor boy’s rise to become a world champion must surely bring joy to the hearts of Filipino fight fans who have had to suffer one crippling loss after another in the past several months.

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.