By Nick Giongco
The scene at ringside was eerily familiar: Paramedics scampering to place a boxer on a stretcher. The boxer’s cornermen, fight officials and even the promoter attending to the stricken fighter. And the poor fellow looking wasted and distraught breathing with the aid of an oxygen tank on the way to the hospital.
These were the sights Saturday night after Pedro Taduran battered Samuel Salva after four rounds to claim the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight crown at the Philippine Marine Corps headquarters at Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
It began as if Taduran would end up settling for crumbs as he suffered a knockdown in the first round after absorbing a sneaky counter right from Salva.
At the end of the second round, Taduran walked back to his corner unsteadily after Salva narrowly wins it.
But the tide changed dramatically in the third when Taduran felt that Salva began to weaken and soften after a barrage of heavy blows sent Salva retreating.
Sensing blood, Taduran stepped up the attack in the fourth by doing the same thing but with added fury.
Salva resorted to rough tactics as a desperate move and was slopped a one-point deduction for headbutting by referee Danrex Tapdasan.
By the time Salva got back to his corner to get prepped up for the fifth, he had assumed the look of a goner, prompting ringside physician Rolando Rivera to go up the ring and examine the fighter.
“The corner had not given up on him but I had to step in and advise the referee to stop it,” said Rivera, noting that Salva didn’t respond to his queries.
Rivera noted that Salva had taken too many solid punches “from a knockout puncher.”
Taduran, a one-time world title challenger, came into the scheduled 12-rounder armed with a 13-2 record with ten KOs.
Salva, known for his counter-punching and ring savvy, entered the bout with a sparkling 17-0 mark with ten KOs and the slight favorite.
But Salva proved no match for the relentless punching and constant pressure of Taduran, whose victory enabled him to join Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire and Jerwin Ancajas as the country’s reigning world champions.
“This guy is a beast,” said international matchmaker Sean Gibbons, the president the Manny Pacquiao-owned of MP Promotions.
Gibbons said he will request that the IBF grant Taduran a chance to make a voluntary defense in Tokyo on New Year’s Eve 2019 before taking on the mandatory.
As for Salva, one of his trainers, Joven Jimenez, joined him at St. Luke’s Global City for some tests that all
turned up negative results.
“Akala ko iba na (I thought it was bad),” said Jimenez, the lead trainer of Ancajas said in the first few hours of Sunday.
Even the new IBF 105-lb champion was concerned.
“Sana naman walang masamang nangyari sa kanya (I hope he didn’t get seriously hurt),” said Taduran during an immediate post-fight chat with reporters.
It might have something to do with the name. In Spanish ‘salva’ roughly translates to ‘to save.’