NEW boxing sensation Lorenzo “Thunderbolt” Villanueva and two other Filipino fighters have been included in the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fight card on November 12 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Manny Pinol, Villanueva’s manager, said it was Pacquiao himself who selected his fighter to be in the undercard of his much-awaited third meeting with the Mexican Marquez.
Villanueva, the undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) Oriental featherweight champion, is now in Baguio training with Pacquiao.
Aside from Villanueva, fighting in the Pacquiao-Marquez card will be Philippine welterweight champion Dennis Laurente and junior bantamweight Fernando Lumacad.
Villanueva, Laurente and Lumacad were selected for different reasons.
For Villanueva, Pacquiao said he would like to give the 24-year-old orphan a chance to prove himself in tougher fights in America.
Villanueva, a southpaw just like Pacquiao, holds an impressive record of 21 wins with 20 knockouts and is now being handled by Hall of Fame boxing trainer Freddie Roach and renowned physical conditioner Alex Ariza.
For Laurente, the fight on November 12 will determine whether he will finally earn the chance to fight for the world title at a late age of 34.
Laurente, a right-hander, holds a record of 40 wins, 21 KOs, four losses and five draws.
Perhaps the most controversial choice of the Pacman to fight in his undercard against Marquez in the prime venue of boxing which is Las Vegas is General Santos City boxer, Fernando Lumacad.
The 25-year-old Lumacad caused an embarrassment to Philippine boxing when he yielded in the third round of his fight against the legendary Mexican warrior Jorge Arce. He even asked for Arce’s robe as a remembrance after the fight.
Of the three, it will be Laurente and Villanueva who will be closely watched in their fights in Las Vegas.
Villanueva is a product of the grassroots boxing program which Pi¤ol started when he was governor of North Cotabato from 1998 to 2007.
Fighting in a foreign land and under the big spotlight in Las Vegas, his November 12 outing will be an opportunity for boxing fans to dissect Villanueva, a shy fighter from the marshlands of Midsayap in North Cotabato. (CRAM)