It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Bolivian boxer vows to stop American foe in ‘Thrilla in Davao’


DAVAO CITY –“Is he crazy or what?”

This was Saul Farah’s reaction to American foe Ron Johnson when the latter declared he would take the former out in two rounds.

“He must be living up to his name,” Farah said, referring to Johnson whose alias is “The American Dream”.

“Yes, the fight won’t go the distance,” Farah agreed.

Farah, the Bolivian and World Boxing Council (WBC) South American heavyweight champion, will battle Johnson in a 12-round clash for the world heavyweight crown under the banner of the Global Boxing Organization on June 15 at the Enderun Tent, Azuela Cove in Lanang.

“He’s crazy if he thinks he can take me out in two,” said the quiet and mild-mannered Bolivian ring gladiator, speaking in Spanish through interpreter and manager Luis Tapia.

Farah, 36, is an orthodox fighter who is not scared to do a toe-to-toe exchange.

Dubbed “Thrilla in Davao,” the exciting boxing extravaganza was put up by Rey Rodis, chairperson of the Red Boxing International in coordination with the City Government of Davao, to create a boxing renaissance in the country and hopefully transform this city as the new sports-tourism mecca in the country and in Asia.

Farah, who is nicknamed “The Phoenix Assassin” for his amazing record of 60 knockouts in 95 fights with a 63 percent average, said he is impressed by the hospitality of the people in Davao.

“You see people smiling everywhere … the food is great and the weather is just like my native Bolivia,” said Farah who has three children. “My family expects me to win and bring home the title and I will not fail them.”

Meanwhile, Johnson, the other half of the Thrilla headliner, dropped by the House of Hope, a charitable home for cancer victims, bringing presents and smile to the stay-in patients.

He also visited the Philippine Eagle Conservation Park and Malagos Garden in Calinan in the afternoon.

Johnson and Farah paid a courtesy call on Mayor Sara Duterte on Wednesday. They will also hold a motorcade around selected thoroughfares in the city on Thursday.

All boxers will weigh in on Friday at 10 a.m. that will be presided by the Games and Amusements Board at the Crevice Hotel.

“Thrilla in Davao” will also feature two young and promising Ifugao boxers who will climb the ring to seek glory in two Asia-Pacific vacant divisions.

Roy Nagulman seeks the belt in the 118-pound bantamweight class versus Aries Buenavidez (MP Nonoy Neri stable) while province-mate Khurvin Jhon Natuplag hopes to cement his stature in the 130 junior lightweight division against Joe Tejones of Wowie Lalanto Boxing Stable.

The other undercards are the 8-rounder between Jenuel Lausa and Orlie Silvestre in the 113-lbs class; RoyderBorbon versus Reymart Ebones, 6-rounds, also at 113 lbs; and Gabriel Dasan versus Nilo Entero, 4 rounds, 109 lbs. (PNA)