Last hurrah? 'Lucky boy' Jaro gets another shot at world boxing title at 32
If he scores an upset against Mexican Carlos Cuadras, Sonny Boy Jaro (third from left) will join the likes of Dodie Boy Penalosa, Gerry Penalosa, Luisito Espinosa, Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes and Brian Viloria in the list of Filipino boxers who won world titles in at least two weight divisions. Jerome Ascano

PERHAPS Sonny Boy Jaro should change his name to Lucky Boy Jaro.

Believe it or not, for the fourth time in the last six years, Jaro will be fighting for a world boxing championship. He is booked to travel to Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico on September 20 to challenge defending World Boxing Council (WBC) super flyweight (115 pounds) champion Carlos Cuadras of Mexico. If Jaro scores an upset, he will join the likes of Dodie Boy Penalosa, Gerry Penalosa, Luisito Espinosa, Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes and Brian Viloria in the list of Filipino boxers who won world titles in at least two weight divisions.

Jaro’s initial ascension to the throne two years ago made for a feel-good story. Down on his luck, having been soundly beaten in two previous attempts at a world title (In 2008, Jaro dropped a decision to Mexican Edgar Sosa for the WBC light flyweight strap; a year later he was knocked out in one round by Mexican Giovani Segura for the WBA’s version of the title), Jaro was offered as a sacrificial lamb to then WBC flyweight (112 pounds) champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam of Thailand. In a stunning upset, Jaro bamboozled Wonjongkam in six rounds to collar the WBC flyweight belt in March 2012.

Unfortunately for Jaro, his reign was over in a wink of an eye. Just four months after winning the WBC title, in July 2012, Jaro yielded it to Japanese Toshiyuki Igarashi. Jaro threw the harder punches, and American judge Luis Escalona actually scored the fight for him at 116-112. The two other judges, however, scored the fight for Igarashi.

Jaro hankered for a rematch, but he ended up losing his next two fights on points. Jaro was again drifting into oblivion when he bounced back with three straight knockout victories, the last coming by way of a six-round demolition of Indonesian Ichal Tobida on June 28.

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At age 32, and after 13 years in the fight game, Jaro (37-13, 27 knockouts) is poised to become a champion again. You can say that the guy can’t believe his luck. “Masayang masaya ako. Hindi ko inakala na mabibigyan pa ako ng isang laban para sa world title,” Jaro told this writer.

Jaro’s journey to a second world crown figures to be an arduous one, though. Nicknamed ‘The Prince,’ Cuadras has an imposing record of 30-0 with 24 knockouts. The 25-year-old Cuadras won the WBC super flyweight diadem on May 31 with an eight-round technical decision win over Thai Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Cuadras was cut on the left eye because of a clash of heads but was declared the winner as he was ahead on points at the time of the stoppage.

Cuadras is a stand-up boxer who offers a busy left jab and a debilitating body attack. The Mexican champion, however, does not move his head particularly and throws wide punches, making him vulnerable to looping punches and short uppercuts on the inside.

Cuadras holds a decision win over Fernando Lumacad in 2012, but Jaro is clearly the most battle-tested Filipino he has faced to date. It will be interesting to see how Cuadras, who remains untested, will handle the devil-may-care style of Jaro.

Jaro is moving up in weight but is confident of handling the extra luggage.  “Okay lang ako sa timbang sa super flyweight,” he said. “Kasi yung huling depensa ko sa Japan (against Igarashi) sa flyweight, hirap na ako sa timbang.”

Jaro will once again enter the ring as a huge underdog. But he is the least perturbed, knowing fully well that nobody gave him a ghost of a chance when he first fought for a world title.

“Magaling siya (Cuadras), pero gagawin ko ang lahat ng makakaya ako para manalo sa laban,” assured Jaro. 

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Follow the writer on Twitter: @edtolentino