Referee Robert Byrd declaring Dapudong as the new International Boxing Organization (IBO) Junior Bantamweight champion. Joining them is IBO Commissioner Charles Payne. CONTIBUTED PHOTO

Johannesburg, South Africa: North Cotabato’s Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong scored a stunning first-round knockout against South African champion Gideon Buthelezi to earn the International Boxing Organization (IBO) Junior Bantamweight title at the Emperor’s Palace Resort and Casino here.

The victory of the 27-year-old farmer’s son from Barangay Pag-asa, M’lang also made him the first world boxing champion from North Cotabato and the first for the Braveheart Boxing Club which is owned by the Piñol Brothers.

Dapudong also vindicated himself following a controversial loss to Buthelezi in their first meeting at the same venue on Novermber 10, 2012 where he knocked down the South African in the ninth round but two of the three judges gave the fight to Buthelezi by split decision.

Buthelezi entered the ring oozing with confidence because of the support of the hometown crowd but Dapudong soon silenced the locals when he started connecting hard punches to the midsection of the South African champion.

It was a gameplan designed to stop the agile former Olympian from running away as he did in the first fight.

At 2:30 of the first round, Dapudong dug a powerful right to the midsection of the lefthanded champion and as Buthelezi lowered his guard to protect his midsection, the Filipino challenger unleashed his signature left hook hitting the South African fighter right on the button.

Buthelezi fell to the canvas face down and American referee Robert Byrd counted out the South African champion at 2:39 of the first round.

Dapudong cried as he saw Byrd counting out Buthelezi. As I clambered to the ring to hug him, he told me: “Sir, your dream has been realized.”

Winning a world boxing title was a dream we started to weave when Dapudong was only 14.

This was when the Piñol borthers—Manny, Noli and Socrates – started a grassroots boxing program which produced several boxing potentials.

Four attempts at the world title, however, proved fruitless, including Dapudong’s fight in Mexico and the last against Buthelezi. But Dapudong finally caught up with the dream which has eluded us for so many years.

Dapudong’s victory also ended the long streak of losses by Filipino fighters which started with Manny Pacquiao’s loss in December and the defeats of Brian Viloria and Nonito Donaire, Jr.


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