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Pinoy pugs beat rivals

PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – With the hometown crowd lustily cheering, Batang Pinoy and Palarong Pambansa standouts Criz Russu Laurente and John Vincent Pangga claimed unanimous decision victories over fancied opponents at the start of the ASBC Asian Junior Boxing Championships Wednesday at the City Coliseum here.

Brief but lively opening ceremonies featuring local groups entertained the foreign guests followed by short welcome remarks by PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez and ASBC vice president Yousuf Ali Al Kazim.

Laurente, youngest of a boxing brood from General Santos City faced a much taller Cai Yujun in the preliminaries of the 48 kg light flyweight class.

Despite the vaunted reputation of Chinese boxers, it was obvious that Laurente had the advantage in skill and guile.

The judges returned a 5-0 verdict for the Gensan lad.

CDO Mayor Oscar Moreno’s protege Pangga on the other hand, had Uzbekistan’s Amirbek Ibodullayev as his opponent in the flyweight 50 kg. class.

The Uzbek was favored as he had just annexed his country’s national junior championships. Uzbekistan is regarded as the top world boxing superpower, having ruled the Rio Olympics and the last World Championships in April this year.

Pangga wowed the crowd with clever counter-punching and movement around the ring, peppering his opponent with crisp straights and hooks.

The unassuming Pangga dealt Uzbekistan its only loss on opening day (five other Uzbeks won; they have entries in all 13 weight categories here).