There’s something to be said about one’s pugilistic skills when you knockout your opponent in the second round, en route to a title fight.
That’s exactly what championship contender Michael Alber Dasmariñas did to Thailand’s Phupha Por Nobnom, last October 20 at Roar of Singapore III. It’s the kind of spectacle that gets you a title fight, and it’s the kind of dramatic, empathic win that brings back hope in boxing’s credibility as a sport.
And now Dasmarinas, the 25-year-old from Pili Camarines Sur in Bicol—hence the moniker “Hot N’ Spicy” after the Bicol Express and other incendiary cuisine in that part of Luzon—is staring down the barrel of a title fight on April 20, against the Frenchman Karim Guerfi.
Dasmarinas and Guerfi will be fighting at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for “Roar of Singapore IV, The Night of Champions.” With three title fights on the line, Dasmarinas will also be sharing the main card with fellow Pinoy headliner Jeson Umbal, who fights Singapore’s Muhamad Ridhwan for the IBO Intercontinental Title.
By all accounts, Dasmarinas is at the peak of his fight camp.
“We intensified all the aspects of my camp for this title fight,” said Dasmarinas in the vernacular, speaking at the press conference last March 7, at Kerry Sports inside Shangri-La at the Fort in BGC. “Especially with conditioning and sparring. We hired three new sparring partners for me from various other gyms.”
Soft-spoken and reserved with the sudden and new experience of media attention, Dasmarinas still has all the making of not only a rising star but Pinoy boxing’s next great hope. He’s the third ranked top boxer in the Philippines, and the twelfth best boxer in the world at 118 lbs according to the WBC.
Winning the bantamweight title in the International Boxing Organization (IBO) is no mean thing. And to do it against someone like Guerfi, who’s got a 26-3 record against Dasmarinas’s 27-2 will be a bout worth its promotional ink. Guerfi in Orthodox, and Hot N’ Spicy in Southpaw, will add that dash of technical problem-solving to the mix.
Scott Patrick Farrell, CEO of Ringstar, wants to bring back the glory days of boxing, when fights were an experience of fabulous combat entertainment and supreme technical ability.
Once, you see, boxing was the gladiatorial sport of choice. “[It’s because of the huge mismatch in experience and record] that’s why people switched off from boxing and why MMA [has done] so well,” Farrel said. “The reason [MMA and the UFC are] so successful is because boxing was going through a period of so many sanctioning bodies, this guy won’t fights this guy anymore, and nobody could understand it anymore. It got so complicated.”
Dasmarinas versus Guerfi, WBC’s number 12 against number four, looks to be a barn burner. See, at the higher levels of striking sports, it’s usually the grit and conditioning that spell the difference and Dasmarinas’s story doesn’t lack for any of it.
The ninth child out of a brood of 11, growing up in CamSur was a constant struggle against poverty but the sweet science was, early on, Dasmarinas’s way to excel. Through boxing he bagged a high school scholarship and saw it through to graduation.
Turning pro in 2012 meant he could gain real earning power, 18 knockouts so far have made his fists the literal bread and butter for him and his family. Now, since signing with the up and coming promoter Ringstar Boxing, the bullied kid from the small town of Pili has come a long way from the days when he earned a paltry P200 from his matches.
“This is a great opportunity that Ringstar has given me and so I will do my best in the fight,” said Dasmarinas about inking a three-year contract with the promotion.
Farrell’s Ringstar, in partnership with Manny Pacquiao promotions, opines that the “Roar in Singapore” fight series will bring back the level platform of boxing as combat meritocracy.
“This is as genuine as it gets,” said Farrell. “What’s been missing in boxing are true fights. Fights have so far been padded out, records have been padded out, people are getting bored. I want to bring back the great matchmaking, the 50/50 fights. The fights that people want to see have drama and fire and are genuine.”
Roar of Singapore IV – “The Night Of Champions” happens on April 20 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, aired live over Fox Sports cable channel
Photos courtesy of Ringstar Boxing