When one boxer is nicknamed “Azukal” and the other goes by the sobriquet “Explosivo,” nothing less than sweet explosion is expected when they clash inside the boxing ring.
Such is the likely scenario on Saturday, when Filipino prospect Genesis “Azukal” Servania takes on former world champion Alexander “Explosivo” Muñoz of Venezuela in a scheduled 12-rounder for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Intercontinental junior featherweight (122 pounds) championship at the plush Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Pasay City. The regional title bout headlines the 24th instalment of “Pinoy Pride,” the popular television boxing series of ABS-CBN and ALA Boxing Promotions.
Bacolod City native Servania is the focal point of the card, having amassed an undefeated record of 23-0 with 9 knockouts since turning pro in 2009. A counter-puncher, the 22-year-old Servania has lately been planting his feet and hammering away without remorse. Four of his last six victories have come by knockout, the latest being a sensational second round knockout of former Panamanian world title challenger Rafael “El Torito” Concepcion in October. The victory over Concepcion earned for Servania the No.3 spot in WBO’s latest division rankings, putting him just two notches below No.1 contender Chris “Hitman” Avalos and Nonito Donaire, Jr.
Recent developments in the 122-pound division augur well for Servania’s future.
Donaire is moving up to the featherweight (126 pounds) class on May 31 to face World Boxing Association (WBA) champion Simpiwe Vetyeka. If Donaire wins, reigning WBO junior featherweight kingpin Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba is likely to vacate the 122-pound throne and pursue a return bout with Donaire at featherweight. Under this possible scenario, American Avalos and Servania would be left to contest the vacant WBO junior featherweight diadem.
However, Servania will have to first get past veteran Muñoz (36-5, 28 knockouts) to fortify his claim for a shot at the regular world title. Muñoz is 35 years old and evidently at the tail-end of an illustrious career, but the fact that he still carries a mean wallop makes him a threat.
Muñoz has been described as a boxer-fighter who likes to move forward and take over a fight with pressure, but Servania is capable of employing a hit-and-move approach to cushion Muñoz’s style. The key for Servania is not to get overzealous on offense and stick to counter-punching in the early rounds.
Muñoz compiled an outstanding amateur record of 163 wins, 9 losses and 129 knockouts. He turned pro in 1998 and won the WBA junior bantamweight (115 pounds) crown with an 8th round stoppage of Japan’s Celes Kobayashi in 2002. He defended the 115-pound belt three times before losing to Martin Castillo in December 2004. Muñoz regained the title in May 2007 by beating Nobuo Nashiro on points, but he lost the crown a year later to Mexican Christian Mijares on a close split-decision.
Muñoz’s career has since gone topsy-turvy. After losing to WBA bantamweight (118 pounds) champion Koki Kameda on points in December 2010, Muñoz went on a hiatus and did not return to action until November 2012, when he stopped journeyman Ever Hernandez in 6 rounds. The ring rust was evident in Munoz’s next fight, when he was stopped in 5 rounds by Leo Santa Cruz in May 2013.
The fight with Servania marks Muñoz’s first ring outing in almost 10 months. As Muñoz will be carrying a lot of ring rust come fight time, Servania has been installed as the overwhelming pick to prevail. There is still the matter of getting the job done, though, and you can say that Servania is all revved up to the task of hammering the final nail on Muñoz’s boxing career.
* * *
For comments, the writer can be reached at email@example.com.