Top prospects Arjan Canillas, Roberto Gonzales dispute vacant PH lightweight title
Fists up for Arjan Canillas (left) and Roberto Gonzales, who fight for the vacant Philippine lightweight championship on Saturday. Gerry Ramos

THE country’s top two lightweight contenders clash in a highly-anticipated duel on Saturday night for the vacant Philippine title at the Ynarez gymnasium in Pasig City.

Top prospect Arjan Canillas takes on No. 2 rated Roberto Gonzales in the main event of the 76-round fight card dubbed ‘Laban Pinoy’ put up by Saved By The Bell boxing promotions.

The 12-round match at 135 lbs. also features two of the country’s top promotions in Cebu-based ALA boxing gym and Touch Gloves stable, going up against each other in a rare showdown. Canillas is fighting out of ALA, while Gonzales represents Touch Gloves.

Both fighters vow to put up a good show.

“Bibigyan namin ng magandang laban ang mga manonood,” said the 25-year-old Gonzales, who owns a 26-2 record with 16 KOs.

“Magandang laban ito, pero depende sa kanila 'yun,” said Canillas trainer.

The 22-year-old Cebuano (13-0, 10 KOs) sparred with world-rated Albert Pagara and Mark Magsayo as he prepared for what he considers as the biggest fight of his life, adding, “big break po ito para sa akin.”

Both Canillas and Gonzales came in at exactly 135 lbs. during Friday’s official weigh-in held at the Shangrila Hotel in Mandaluyong.

Former world title challenger Abe Concepcion of Arci boxing stable headlines the main undercard as he stakes his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Oriental super-bantamweight crown against rising ALA boxing stalwart Jimmy Paypa.

The 28-year-old Concepcion is highly-favored against his young foe, having fought for the world championship twice and losing both times opposite Steven Luveano and Juan Manuel Lopez.

But the veteran from Virac, Catanduanes (34-6-2, 20KOs) said his not looking past the 22-year-old Paypa (17-3-1, 6 KOs).

“Malaki ang respeto ko lalo na sa mga boxers from ALA stable,” said Concepcion.

In the same way, Paypa stressed he’s hardly intimidated by his fancied opponent.

“Pare-parehas lang naman kaming nag-ensayo para sa laban na ito,” he said after tipping the scale at 122 lbs., the same weight as Concepcion.

Saved By The Bell promoter Elmer Anuran said he plans to put up other fight cards in the future featuring fighters from different boxing stables in the country.

“Yes, yun ang objective,” said Anuran, who personally thanked ALA boxing for supporting him in this latest endeavor.

“Bihira na kasi ngayon yung No.1 lalaban against No. 2. Eh, alam naman natin na halos lahat ng Filipino boxing legends dumaan muna sa Philippine title.”

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