BOXING’s long-time charitable venture that once played a part in the careers of ring superstars Manny Pacquiao and Gabriel `Flash’ Elorde, world champion Pedro Adigue and Ervito Salavarria, and Olympic silver medalist Anthony Villanueva is set for a grand comeback.
After a seven-year hiatus, the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) will be reviving the popular Fiesta Fistiana in a continuous effort of bringing cheers to indigent and disabled boxers.
The revival of the boxing promotion first held in 1955 at the old Bullfight Arena near the historic Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, is being done under the watch of PSA president Jun Lomibao of the Business Mirror in partnership with the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
It was in 2007 when PSA president Aldrin Cardona of the Daily Tribune held the last Fiesta Fistiana at the Rajah Sulaiman Park in Malate featuring Philippine super-bantamweight champion Alex Escaner against no. 3 challenger Jake Verano in a 12-round match that ended in a controversial majority draw.
This time the Ninoy Aquino Stadium will be the site of the event to be held on June 25.
Fiesta Fistiana is celebrating its 59th year since President Magsaysay signed Republic Act 1373 on June 18, 1955 granting the PSA, acknowledged as the country’s oldest media organization, tax exemption from the boxing promotion that will “benefit aging and disable Filipino boxers.”
Shortly after RA 1373 was signed, the first Fiesta Fistiana took off.
Two titles were at stake in its first staging, according to Ben Simpao in an article he wrote for PhilBoxing, featuring featherweight Emil `Bill’ Tinde against Ben Escobar, and flyweight Tanny Campo opposite Danny Kid.
The undercard incidentally, featured a young southpaw from Bogo City Cebu by the name of `Flash’ Elorde, who went on and win by decision over Severo Fuentes, five years before he became the lightweight champion of the world.
Adigue, former World Boxing Council (WBC) light-welterweight title holder, Salavarria, a two-time flyweight champion of the world (WBC and World Boxing Association), and Villanueva, who won a silver medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, were at one time fought as part of the Fiesta Fistiana boxing card.
And then, there’s Pacquiao.
The eight-time world champion and future Hall of Famer was fresh from a third round knockout loss against Medgoen Singsurat of Thailand after yielding his WBC flyweight title for failing to make the weight.
On a rebound, the boxing superstar from General Santos City headlined the 1999 Fiesta Fistiana against Reynante Jamili at the Elorde Sports Complex held under the aegis of then PSA president Lito Tacujan of the Philippine Star.
Pacquiao destroyed Jamili in just two rounds that paved the way for his successful ring comeback.
The rest, as they say, was history.