DOHA, Qatar – The presence of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao proved to be an inspiration for the cat-quick Rogen Ladon of the PLDT-ABAP Boxing Team at the AIBA World Championships here as the Bago City native upset the number 1 seed here, Mexican Joselito Velasquez Altamirano.
Ladon, ranked 17th here, took the three-rounder by unanimous decision on all three cards of the judges from Ireland, Trinidad & Tobago, and France, 30-27.
Pacquiao arrived to a tumultuous welcome at the fabulously modern Hamad Al Attiwa Arena here. Ladon said his presence inspired him.
“Parang hindi pa ako makapaniwala na pinanood ni Congressman Pacquiao ang laban ko. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ang suwerte ko, hindi ko pwede ipahiya si idol. Ginanahan talaga ako! (I couldn't believe Congressman Pacquiao was watching me fight. I told myself I'm so lucky and I can't let him down. I was really inspired!)"" beamed the 21 year old.
Ladon started early with sporadic attacks behind 3-5 shot combinations which is becoming his trademark.
"Alam ko malakas siya pero sabi nina Coach Boy (Velasco) at Coach Brin (Romeo), mag hit and run daw ako kasi medyo flat-footed siya kaya hindi siya makakahabol pag inalisan ko siya. Pinag-aralan namin mabuti yong pinadalang videos sa amin ng ABAP Sports Science staff namin sa Manila (I knew he was strong, but the coaches told me to hit and run because he's a bit flat-footed and wouldn't be able to catch me if I disengage quickly. We studied the videos sent to us by our Sports Science support staff in Manila).
At a dinner tendered by AIBA president Ching-Kuo-Wu for Pacquiao, the boxing legend told ABAP executive director Ed Picson to announce that he was so impressed with Ladon and Eumir Felix Marcial (the other Filipino boxer here) that he was giving an incentive of P500,000 if they win a gold medal here.
"Gusto kong matulungan ang mga batang ito. Ang gagaling eh!" the 8-division champ said. He even joked to Picson: "Akin na lang ang mga ito pag nag-pro, ha?". (I want to help these boys. They're so good! I want them in my stable when they turn professional, okay?).
Pacquiao has a team of young professional boxers training in Davao City under his MP Promotions.
The two young pugs were dumbfounded when they heard the news, more so when Pacquiao added “plus another P5 million for each gold in Rio!"
ABAP president Ricky Vargas, in an early morning call while Pacquiao and party were awaiting their flight back to Manila (they left via Dubai at 3:45 a.m. Doha time) said" we are so honored and appreciative that our boxing hero Manny Pacquiao took time out to show support for our boys.
It's no joke that he spent 26 hours on a plane then stayed for a hectic schedule in Doha for only 17 hours with hardly any sleep! Maraming salamat, Manny!"
Ladon continues his campaign here in the quarterfinals (round of 16) on Saturday versus Poland's David Jagodzinski, who won over a Bulgarian on Thursday.
Friday, Marcial, who TKO'd Egyptian Said Mohamed in his initial foray here, faces Spain's Youba Sissokho.
Ladon who now has 2 wins, will be assured of a bronze if he wins over the Polish boxer but needs one more to snare a slot to the Olympic Games. Only the gold and silver winners in the light flyweight category will go to Rio.
In Marcial's division, three boxers will make it (the 2 bronze medalists will box off for the third slot.