FORMER amateur standout Criztian Pitt Laurente is headed to Biñan City to face the stiffest test of his young pro career.
After more than a year of not seeing action inside the ring, the 21-year-old Laurente takes on former world title challenger Ernesto Saulong on March 20, 2021. Laurente was supposed to fight Renan Portes on Nov. 28, 2020 in General Santos City, but the fight was cancelled.
Former world champion-turned-boxing promoter Gerry Peñalosa already booked a fight between Laurente and Saulong as early as February. It was supposed to be at the Peñalosa Boxing Gym in Parañaque City, but the date wasn’t set yet because Metro Manila was still under general community quarantine (GCQ).
“The LGU of Biñan allowed us. You still are not allowed to promote in Manila,” Peñalosa, the owner of Gerry Pens Promotions, told SunStar Cebu.
Biñan City, which is under modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), has already hosted one of the biggest fights in the Philippines in 2021 — a World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight title fight between Vic Saludar and Robert Paradero last Feb. 20, 2021 at the Biñan City Football Stadium.
“Even though it’s expensive to promote because of IATF protocols, there are still promoters that promote events. It goes to show that Filipinos love combat sports,” said Peñalosa.
After a long boxing lull in 2020 following the breakout of the Covid-19 virus, the Philippine boxing scene has been very busy in just the first quarter of 2021. The Philippines has already had three boxing events thus far, and this will be the fourth “bubble” boxing event for this year. Omega Sports Promotions is also promoting an event in Cebu on March 27, 2021.
Laurente is a former Philippine national team member and represented the country in the AIBA Youth Boxing Championships, Asian Junior Boxing Championships, Children of Asia International Games and the Asian Youth Boxing Championships.
Laurente made his pro debut in 2019 with a quick first round demolition of Rey John Indita. He won his next three bouts before facing veteran former ALA Gym fighter Boyce Sultan, who he beat by unanimous decision in 2020.
The 31-year-old Saulong is an experienced fighter who has fought for a world title. He challenged Japanese Ryosuke Iwasa for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super bantamweight belt by unanimous decision in Japan.
Saulong, a former World Boxing Council (WBC) International bantamweight titleholder, owns a win over Alie Laurel and fought Jhunriel Ramonal to a draw. He, however, lost his last two contests against Brock Jarvis and Laurel, in a rematch.
Laurente is 5-0 with three knockouts, while Saulong is 22-6-2 with nine knockouts.
In the undercard, Mervin Lulu (5-5-2, 2 KOs) locks horns with Mark Jequinto (4-6-1), Harry Omac (3-0, 1 KO) takes on Mike Grondiano, Kenneth Llover (1-0, 1 KO) is up against Jet Magbanua (0-1) and Lawrence Dumam-ag (3-0, 3 KOs) slugs it out with Jomarie Mansueto. (EKA)