NEW YORK - When Jonas Sultan entered the ring costumed as the cape crusader last Sunday, he was met with some jeers and wisecracks from the predominantly Puerto Rican crowd inside the Hulu theater at the Madison Square Garden.
But the joke was on them.
Batman was actually in the house disguised as Jonas Sultan and doing super heroic things that led to a unanimous decision victory over 5-to-1 favorite and previously unbeaten Carlos Caraballo.
Days before the fight, promotional giant Top Rank signed Caraballo to a multi-year deal, confident that New York will be his coming out party and Sultan would be the right canvas with which to paint another KO masterpiece.
Upset made in boxing heaven
Little did Caraballo's camp know that while they were anticipating to score another stoppage, the 15th in 15 bouts, Sultan and his team was quietly plotting an upset made in boxing heaven.
"Kayang kaya nako ni sir (I can handle him)," Sultan said confidently on the morning of the fight when he called me via Facebook messenger shortly after emptying bowls of chicken tinola before a scheduled afternoon nap.
The goal was to go to the body early, cut the ring, and crowd the 25-year old Puerto Rican southpaw in a way that would limit the wind-up of his nuclear-powered left hand.
And that's exactly what Sultan did from first to last bell.
He stalked Caraballo, charging forward constantly while dishing out a buffet of left hooks, upper cuts, right straights and looping overhands that floored Caraballo in the second, third, sixth and ninth rounds.
While the mission was a success, Caraballo did inflict some damage on Sultan, who ate quite a few textbook right jab-left straight combinations along the way.
The scars of battle were evident soon after when Sultan entertained a free-flowing stream of well-wishers inside his 11th floor room at the Stewart Hotel on 7th Avenue and West 34th street in swanky midtown Manhattan.
"Kusog sab iya suntok, sir (His punches packed power)," Sultan said of the punishment he absorbed.
The seventh and eighth round were especially testy for the 29-year old from Zamboanga City as Caraballo, aware that he was behind the scorecards, let his hands go.
Sultan, however, managed to weather the fistic storm.
"That's where his experience came into play," said Junnie Navarro, who co-manages Sultan alongside Mike Valenzuela of Zamboanga Valientes MLV.
While getting the ice treatment in his corner and sipping some water while the ring doctor checked on him prior to the start of the ninth round, coach Joven Jimenez yelled something that reinvigorated a seemingly sapping, gassing out Sultan.
"Isipin mo ang mga anak mo! Para sa kanila to! (Think of your children. Do it for them)."
The passionate call to arms worked, and moments later, Sultan recorded his fourth knockdown of the fight, essentially sealing the deal on the way to a needle-thin 94-93 nod on all the three scorecards.
"Carlos will take your soul," a spirited Caraballo mocked Sultan at Friday's weigh-in.
Thank God, none of that frightful sort of paranormal activity happened on the eve of Halloween.
As it turned out, some of Sultan's body parts ache, but I am glad to report that he is a restful, happy soul.
And with MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons carefully planning the future. this "One Punch" wonder is in very good hands.