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Asian Boxing: World title knockout upsets by Filipino fighters

This week's Asian boxing piece takes a look at Filipino boxers who fought as underdogs, knocking their opponents out to become a world champion.


Victory is a million times sweeter when you’re the underdog, and even sweeter if a world title is at stake. Let’s take a look back at some of the upset knockout victories that added success to Philippines’ world title haul.

Manny Pacquiao KO (8th round) Chatchai Sasakul – December 4, 1998

The odds were stacked in the favor of the reigning champion Chatchai Sasakul when he faced Pacquiao in front of his countrymen. Pacquiao, the challenger, was one of the fondest fighters to watch for the Filipinos but was often criticized for the work he still needs to do in his game. As one of the established fighters from Thailand during that time, Chatchati clearly fought with control and caution. He was outboxing Pacquiao throughout the fight having a constant use of the jab and refused to engage with Filipino’s rugged brawl style.

He was thriving and landing the cleaner punches as Pacquiao chased him while doing a lot of ring movement. It was in the eighth round when Pacquiao found his rhythm and connected with a stunning left-hook to the chin that sent Chatchai to the canvas that sealed the victory for the 19-year-old Pacquiao. Pacquiao took home the WBC flyweight belt- the first of his eight career world titles.

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Chatchai Sasakul, happily retired after boxing

Nonito Donaire KO (5th round) Vic Darchinyan – July 7, 2007

Armenian fighter Vic Darchinyan once ruled the flyweight division with his exemptional punching power for a fighter in the lower weight division. He technically knocked out almost every fighter he faced, and at that time he earned the reputation of a bully to his opponents. Nonito Donaire, a Filipino fighter based in California was tapped to contend for Darchinyan’s two titles (IBF and IBO). Prior to facing Donaire, Darchinyan’s list of victims already included Filipino fighters – Nonito’s brother Glenn and Diosdado Gabi whom he both defeated.

In their bout, Darchinyan turned to his usual ‘bully style’ to connect power punches, but Donaire remained unintimidated and patiently followed his fight blueprint until he connected with a vicious right hook that dropped Darchinyan to end the reign of ‘The Raging Bull’. Donaire rose to stardom after the win and bagged his first world title to end a long world title drought for the Philippines.

Gerry Peñalosa KO (7th round) Jhonny Gonzales – August 11, 2007

It was during the boxing ‘World Cup: The Philippines vs Mexico’ when veteran fighter Gerry Peñalosa got another shot at a world title since losing to Daniel Ponce De Leon. The 36-year-old Peñalosa, who is a defensive specialist, was being beaten by a much younger Gonzales. He was obviously losing the fight against the champion until he found an opening and threw a left hook to the body to floor Gonzales in the seventh round and snatch the WBO bantamweight title.

It was a sweet victory for the aging Peñalosa as he was able to turn back the hands of time to have another taste of a championship belt in the final stretch of his career.

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Niko Quirapas

Niko Quirapas is a nurse by profession. He's a self-taught sports writer from the Philippines who specializes in boxing and basketball.

Asian Boxing: World title knockout upsets by Filipino fighters

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