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Froilan Saludar makes the leap with Friday bout versus Mexican Tirado

September 20, 2012 9:36am
Froilan Saludar may just be the next great Filipino fighter, and that's no exaggeration. The 23-year-old flyweight from Digos City, Davao del Sur is unbeaten at 15-0-1 (11 knockouts) and draws comparisons to Philippine boxing legend Luisito Espinosa with his lanky frame and one-punch knockout power in his right cross. In fact, it was watching Espinosa's victory over Cesar Soto in 1996 at Luneta Park that first made him a boxing fan.

"The Sniper," as he's known, is ranked as high as number two in the world by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and may be in a title fight as early as next year.

Saludar will finally get his shot at headlining a big show in Manila this Friday, when he faces Mexican challenger Jose Alfredo Tirado (27-11, 19 KOs) at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City, an event promoted by first-time organizer Anson Tiu Co's Shape Up Boxing Promotions.

In the co-feature, Mark Jason Melligen (22-3, 15 KOs) of Bacolod City will work to get his career back on track against Thailand's Sapapetch Sor Sakaorat (28-10, 18 KOs). This will be the 26-year-old Melligen's second fight since his loss to Sebastian Lujan in San Antonio, Texas last year. Filipino prospects Jerwin Ancajas (14-1-1, 6 KOs) of Davao Del Norte and Macrea Gandionco (5-0, 3 KOs) of Baguio City will also be in action.

The show entitled "Kamao: Kidlat at Maso" will be broadcast on GMA News TV on Sunday, September 23 at 10 p.m.

So far Saludar has faced few obstacles in the ring; it's been getting to the ring that has been the issue. Friday's fight will be just Saludar's second fight of 2012, an inactive period that his trainer/manager Joven Jimenez chalks up to problems getting TV time to subsidize his fights.

In Tirado, Saludar will encounter his toughest test to date. The 32-year-old Tirado from Culiacan, Mexico, the hometown of Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., has won four straight bouts and holds a 2002 victory over Cristian Mijares, who would later go on to win multiple world titles. In Tirado's two significant bouts against Filipinos however, he lost decisions to Z Gorres and Diosdado Gabi.

“I will win this fight against Saludar and my promoter promised me that if I win he will give me a shot at a world title,” said Tirado.

"I'm nervous and happy because this is an opportunity to make a big statement to the world," said Saludar, who is promoted by the Cebu-based Sammy Gello-ani and advised by international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, who is credited with discovering Manny Pacquiao. "I'm expecting him to be my greatest opponent because he's a veteran in boxing and has fought good boxers."

Saludar, the middle of 15 children, grew up on his father's six hectare pineapple farm in Davao, working the fields that supply produce to the Dole Food Company from the age of nine. It was his father who initially introduced him to the sport at age 14, and by the time he finished up his amateur tenure in 2009, he had amassed a 64-11 record and won two National Youth titles.

When Tiu Co's original main event, which was to feature former flyweight champion Rodel Mayol, fell out a couple weeks ago, Saludar was bumped up to the main event and put into a tougher fight than he was originally expecting. Tirado was originally supposed to face Mayol, who withdrew after accepting a world title fight in Mexico.

"This kid needs a break already," said Tiu Co. "He has been babied long enough. It's time for him to showcase his talent with this big break I'm giving him."

Through this chain of events, we might find out just how much of a marksman "The Sniper" really is. - AMD, GMA News


Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel and can be reached at ryan@ryansongalia.com. An archive of his work can be found here. Follow him on Twitter.

You can vote for Songalia in the Outstanding Filipino Americans of NY Awards media/publishing category via Facebook.

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