Kidapawan City: North Cotabato’s first world professional boxing champion Edrin “The Sting” Dapudong gets into the tough phase of his preparation for his first title defense next week starting sparring sessions with two veteran and bigger junior featherweights.
Dapudong, 27, who will defend his International Boxing Organization (IBO) Junior Bantamweight title on Novembe 9 against former Olympian Zolani Tete of South Africa, has engaged as sparring partners Eric Barcelona and Mark Anthony Geraldo of the Lazarito Boxing Club from the neighboring province of Bukidnon.
Barcelona and Geraldo, who are both southpaws like Tete, weigh about four kilos heavier than Dapudong.
The November 9 event to be held at the Emperor’s Palace Resort and Casino in Johannesburg will be Dapudong’s first defense of the IBO title he won by a spectacular first round knockout of South African champion Gideon Buthelezi on June 15 this year.
Tete is a very shifty fighter who uses his long reach to outpoint or knockout his opponent. With only two losses in 17 professional bouts, Tete has a very high knockout ratio with 12 out of his 15 wins.
Dapudong has a record of 29 wins with 17 knockouts and five defeats.
The Filipino champion, a product of a grassroots boxing program in North Cotabato, started his light training as early as last month running long distances early in the morning at the foot of Mt. Apo, the country’s tallest peak.
With two months to go before the fight, he will start with light sparring with sparmates Barcelona and Geraldo this week.
Dapudong, who earlier planned to train in the US or Mexico, will instead train in the simple Braveheart Boxing Club farm gym in Barangay Paco, Kidapawan City.
He is also expected to train alongside Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, who is also preparing for a November 24 bout with American Brandon Rios in Macau, in the Saranggani Congressman’s personal gymnasium in Gen. Santos City.