A MAN considered as one of the pillars of Philippine boxing who had the good fortune of working alongside two of the greatest Filipino world boxing champions of all time, failed to answer the bell on that fateful Saturday night.
Ramon `Moy’ Lainez, one of the original members of Team Pacquiao and who once worked the corner of the late great Gabriel `Flash’ Elorde, died of a heart attack at the University of Santo Tomas hospital due to complications brought about by asthma.
He would have turned 71 on August 3.
News of his untimely death came just as another Filipino world champion in Merlito Sabillo was defending his World Boxing Organization (WBO) minimumweight title against Colombian challenger Jorle Estrada at the Solaire Resort and Casino Hotel.
For someone who had seen Philippine boxing both at its highest and lowest points, Lainez’s death is definitely a big loss for the sport.
“Nakita niya everything, from Flash Elorde to Manny Pacquiao,” said longtime boxing analyst Chino Trinidad. “Niloloko ko nga siya e. Sabi ko Mang Moy, baka pati si Pancho Villa inabot niyo pa.
“But seriously, he knows boxing in and out. He’s an immense contributor to Philippine boxing.”
“We lost an institution in the sport, a guy who breathed and lived boxing. My guess is that he went out swinging. He will be missed,” said boxing expert and Spin.ph columnist Atty. Ed Tolentino.
Today's generation knows Lainez as one-third of the triumvirate of the late Rod Nazario and Lito Mondejar which launched Pacquiao to full stardom.
As one of the Pacman’s handlers, Lainez was there when the popular southpaw boxer won his first world title in Thailand against Chatchai Sasakul in 1998 and during his 2001 US debut when he scored a stunning sixth-round technical knockout of Lehlo Ledwaba to win a second world crown.
But Trinidad said Lainez also worked the corner of Elorde when the pride of Bogo, Cebu was the toast of Philippine boxing in the 60s.
“He knows every trick in boxing. I remember one time when Elorde was still two pounds over the limit during the weigh-in, hindi ko na lang maalala kung sino ang kalaban, although dehydrated na nga si Flash trying to shed the excess weight.
“Pero to the surprise of everybody, pag timbang niya (Elorde) two pounds less pa siya without knowing that Mang Moy did something to the weighing scale,” said Trinidad, who’d rather demonstrate privately what the boxing expert did.
The fabled L&M gym in Sampaloc which produced a handful of world champions, also saw birth through Lainez, who co-owned the sweat shop with Mondejar.
The popular weekly-boxing show `Blow-by-Blow’ where Pacquiao launched his boxing career was also synonymous to the trio of Nazario, Lainez, and Mondejar.
An uncle of current PBA commissioner Chito Salud – Mang Moy and Chito’s father, the late former league commissioner and former World Boxing Council secretary general Rudy Salud, are first cousins – Lainez laid low in boxing for a while as he worked as chief executive officer of MZET Film Production, owned by popular comedian and TV host Vic Sotto.
“Pero eventually, he returned to boxing which is his No. 1 passion,” said Gerry Garcia, who serves as match-maker for the longtime boxing show In This Corner which Lainez produces at the time of his death.
Unknown to many, Lainez always looks forward to celebrating Christmas, during which he always tries to share his blessings, small as it may be.
“Lagi siyang nagpapapalit ng barya na pambigay sa nangangaroling,” recalled Garcia, son of the late boxer, manager, and promoter Grego Garcia.
“Nagpapalit din siya ng mga bagong pera na 20s, 50s, 100s para isasabit niya sa Christmas tree niya. Pagdating ng Pasko ng umaga, ipapabunot niya yan sa mga bata (sa Roxas District) especially dun sa mga squatters.”
Lainez does have a soft spot for the poor and the needy that former two-time world champion Gerry Penalosa gave him the perfect compliment.
“Sayang, isa siya sa totoong tao sa boxing,” he said.