Honda assures fair judges

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) – October 21, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Three Japanese judges will be named to work the much-awaited fight between No. 1 contender Giemel Magramo of the Johnny Elorde stable and No. 2 Junto Nakatani for the vacant WBO flyweight crown at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Nov. 6 with promoter Akihiko Honda guaranteeing fairness in the scorecards if it goes the 12-round distance.

Magramo, his father/head trainer Melvin, assistant trainer Toto Laurente, Elorde and Mig Elorde are waiting for their Japanese visas to be issued any day now. After the visas are released, they will undergo swab testing with the results expected within 24 hours. As soon as the results come out negative, they’ll take the first flight out to Tokyo. Upon arrival in the Tokyo airport, they will be subjected to a saliva test. Results will be delivered quickly and if negative, quarantine will be facilitated by Honda. Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Rep. Joy Tambunting wrote letters of endorsement to the Japanese ministry appealing to facilitate the Magramo team’s testing. It was Honda who requested for the letters of endorsement from government officials to speed up the clearance process.

Elorde said he agreed to all Japanese judges. “We told Giemel about this and he’s not bothered at all,” said Elorde. “Mr. Honda assured us the Japanese judges will be very fair.” GAB chairman Baham Mitra received confirmation from Japan Boxing Commission general secretary Tsuyoshi Yasukochi that the fight is on schedule and because of the Japanese isolation policy, neutral judges may not be accommodated. “Mr. Yasukochi mentioned that a foreigner should be separated for two weeks,” said Mitra. “I replied that we will have no problem with that and if a foreign fighter can fight then a judge can surely isolate too and judge.”

WBO Asia Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo said the contest, which has been postponed five times, is definitely pushing through. “Unfortunately, I will not be there,” said Panoncillo who is based in Thailand. “In WBO title fights, the President (Paco Valcarcel) uses his discretion on the best officials out there internationally and it might not even be from either of the fighter’s country. We are all in this pandemic. It will be what works best to make this fight into fruition. Most likely, it will be all Japanese officials.”

Magramo, 26, has won his last seven fights, all inside the distance and totes a record of 24-1, with 20 KOs. Nakatani, 22, enjoys a three-inch height advantage at 5-7 and boasts a 20-0 mark, with 15 KOs. His last two victims were Filipinos Milan Melindo and Philip Cuerdo, both of whom lost by knockout. Magramo said he’s prepared long and hard for the chance to become the first Filipino world champion crowned in this pandemic. He’s dedicating the fight to Flash Elorde’s widow and his grandmother figure Laura who passed away last May.

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