Exciting 22 year old Weng “Capt. Barbell” Haya, fresh from a gallant showing against WBO featherweight champion Orlando “Siri” Salido of Mexico last December 17 battles equally tough Jose “The Bomber” Ocampo for the WBO Asia Pacific junior lightweight title at the Hoops Dome in Lapu Lapu City on February 4.
Haya who is ranked No. 9 in the Philippines has a record of 15-4 with 8 knockouts while Ocampo who is ranked No. 5 is also 22 years old and sports a record of 14-5-1 with 9 knockouts.
In his fight against Salido who had earlier won the world title with a stunning 8th round TKO over Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez on April 16, 2011 exploded with seconds remaining in the third round and caught Salido with a picture-perfect left hand counter that sent the world champion crashing to the canvas.
With Salido still groggy at the start of round four Haya nailed Salido with a solid left straight to drop the champion for the second time in the scheduled ten round bout but the Mexican was saved by the bell.
Promoter Sammy Gello-ani said a low blow by Salido in round six hurt Haya and as the champion began to use his experience and ring smarts Haya appeared to get frustrated. Salido hurt Haya with a punch that sent him reeling against the ropes. The 31 year old champion went after the young and comparatively inexperienced Filipino and dropped him after which the referee stepped in and called a halt at 0:35 seconds of the 8th round although Gello-ani thought .the stoppage was premature.
Ocampo himself is coming off similar unlucky circumstances when he lost by a 5th round technical decision to southpaw Rey Labao on August 6, 2011.
In an action-packed bout Labao was proclaimed the winner after the ring physician instructed vreferee Sammy Bernabe to call a halt because Ocampo was bleeding badly from a cut over his right eye which Bernabe claimed was caused by an accidental head-butt.
However, repeated slo-motion replays by AKTV IBC 13 which telecast the fight showed it was a perfect left straight that opened up the cut.
At the time of the stoppage judges Salven Lagumbay (48-47) and Eppie Almeda (49-46) had Labao ahead while the third judge Romy Yulo had it even at 48-48.
By Ronnie Nathanielsz