IT’S NEVER easy recognizing an Olympic gold medal prospect even in this talent-rich country that has produced Rep. Manny Pacquiao, reigning world pound-for-pound boxing king.
Of course, that was a terrific shot taken by our amateur boxing godfathers, who offered to send veteran Joegin Ladon to Freddie Roach, together with other members of the national training pool.
Roach, to those who don’t know him fully well, is not a person.
He’s an institution—make that read a graduate school—which molds and guides promising pros en route to win-win perfection.
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The pudgy, power-punching Ladon is headed for Roach after winning the lightweight gold medal in the recent MVP International Friendship Cup at the PICC Tent.
Before that, he was quietly being considered for retirement by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines.
For the record, Ladon capped a series of so-so international outings last year with a tasteless early exit in the Milan World Boxing Championship in September.
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Of course, the bubbly fellow feels on top of the world again.
Now, please don’t count this as a warning, just a friendly reminder. This is as honest and as courteous we can get.
There’s a great danger of losing Ladon.
Roach may not look a second time to confirm that Ladon, a certified slugger, could prosper better as a professional KO artist.
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No. This is not to say Ladon, who slammed his way to an exciting victory, scoring mostly with wild blows thrown like a baseball pitcher, could end up demonstrating how not to fight in an Olympic ring.
Roach cannot be expected to ask and wonder how Ladon, with his raw, rugged style, has reached this far.
You’re also free to wonder if Roach can teach Ladon to fight using sharp and proper Olympic boxing basics.
That, of course, would be better left for Roach and the Filipino trainers to discuss.
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Truth is, there are many other great things going for the United States-bound national pool training team.
One fellow that’s sure to gain Roach’s discerning nod is featherweight Charly Suarez who, just like Ladon, also won a gold medal in the MVP Cup.
Both gold winners won at the expense of Thai foes.
But while Suarez had veteran Woripoj Peetchkom, an Olympic medalist, for a foe, Ladon did his patented slamming against a terribly lost aspirant barber from Bangkok.
Naturally, Suarez, also a gold winner in the last Southeast Asian Games in Laos, appears a shoo-in for this year’s Asian Games.
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But please join me in this prayer.
Let’s hope the Abap does not lose sight and limit the US training trip to those who captured gold medals in the 1st MVP Cup.
If they do, they would not only be doing injustice to light flyweight Victorio Saludar, a truly talented 19-year-old son of a poor farmer, who settled for the silver after forcing Wu Shongling, a tremendously gifted young Chinese, to a 6-all stalemate.
They would also be unfair to themselves.
The Saludar-Wu bout readily rose to world level, thanks to the competence and incredible maturity displayed by the youthful Saludar.
It was too bad that the fiery contest, defined by sharp Olympic-style fighting, was overshadowed by Ladon’s wild, wild victory.
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(SCHOOL CALL: The Plaridel High School in Mandaluyong will hold an alumni homecoming on Feb. 5, 2011. The affair is being organized by graduates from Classes 1960 to 1969. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or text 0917-8437643, or register at the school’s Record Section.)