By Adrian Stewart Co
Filipino Reymart Gaballo pulled off a controversial split decision win over Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez to clinch the WBC interim world bantamweight championship on Saturday (Sunday in the Philippines) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The outcome was a stunner for many as Rodriguez was the dominant fighter since the start but two judges saw it at 116-112 and 115-113 for Gaballo while the other judge gave it to the Puerto Rican at 118-110.
Gaballo was aggressive in the opening round but has no answers to the punches being thrown by Rodriguez. The Puerto Rican also owned the next two rounds and even pinned the Filipino to the ropes in the third with a right.
Rodriguez was at it again in the fourth round as he caught Gaballo with a huge right hand. The Filipino cannot find an answer to the volume punches of the Puerto Rican as he got owned in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Gaballo showed some life in the seventh round as he unloaded big right hands on Rodriguez. The Puerto Rican came back in the eighth as he rocked the Filipino with two strong straights.
Gaballo retaliated in the ninth frame with right hand connections, hooks and shot to the body but Rodriguez played it safe in the next three rounds as he runs around while the Filipino was not showing sense of urgency.
Gaballo was a last-minute replacement to face Rodriguez after the latter’s original foe, veteran Filipino boxer Nonito Donaire Jr., was tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19.
The General Santos City-native was originally part of the boxing card but was supposed to face Jose Velazquez of Chile in a non-title bout.
Gaballo, who fights under the SanMan Promotions banner of Jim Claude Manangquil and is trained by Moro Fernandez in Miami, now upped his undefeated record to 24 wins with 20 knockouts.
Rodriguez, whose previous lone defeat was inflicted by Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue, absorbed his second consecutive defeat and dropped to 19-2-0 win-loss-draw, with 12 KO wins./ASC, WDJ