By RYAN SONGALIA, Rappler.com
MANILA, Philippines – The smell of sweat and hard work filled the air of the dusty Elorde Sports Center. The sound of the speed bags were drowned out by the cockfighting taking place upstairs. There were few indications that this was anything other than another mundane Wednesday afternoon in the basement dungeon gym located in the Sucat section of Paranaque City, which is part of Metro Manila.
Yet among the scores of young boxers in varying stages of preparation for fights is one who is wrapping up his training camp for the biggest fight of his career. Jonathan Taconing, the WBC’s No. 1 contender at 108 pounds, is preparing for his showdown with junior flyweight titleholder Ganigan Lopez on July 2 at Arena Coliseo in Mexico City, Mexico.
There are no news cameras, no fans waiting outside for autographs the way there would be when Manny Pacquiao is about to leave for a championship fight.
Just him, his trainer Eddie Ballaran and his solitary focus.
“If he gives me the chance, any round, I can knock him out,” Taconing told RingTV.com on June 22, 10 days before the fight. There’s no hint of arrogance when he says this; scoring 18 knockouts in his 22 wins (against two losses and a draw) has been his insurance against outside forces taking away what he had earned in the ring.