HARD-HITTING prospect Rey-mart Gaballo steps in for Filipino star Nonito Donaire Jr. against former world champion Emmanuel Rodriguez for the interim World Boxing Council (WBC) bantamweight belt in the main event of Showtime’s boxing event on Dec. 20, 2020 (PH time) at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Donaire was forced to pull out of his fight with Rodriguez after testing positive for Covid-19. Rodriguez was a replacement for WBC bantamweight king Nordine Oubaali after the latter backed out also because of Covid-19.
The 24-year-old Gaballo was originally scheduled to fight Chilean veteran Jose Velasquez for the interim World Boxing Association (WBA) bantamweight title in the same event before being elevated in the main event against Rodriguez.
“This will be a harder opponent but Reymart is 100 percent ready even before there was an opponent change. He’ll just have a few technical adjustments with coach Moro (Osmiri Fernandez),” said Sanman Promotions chief executive officer JC Manangquil, Gaballo’s handler, told SunStar Cebu.
Gaballo is currently rated No. 1 in the WBA, No. 13 in the World Boxing Organization and No. 26 in the WBC.
“This is his most important fight. If he wins, he may become top five in the bantamweight division,” said Manangquil.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez is the former International Boxing Federation (IBF) bantamweight champion and considered a top five bantamweight. He’s currently the fourth-ranked bantamweight in The Ring rankings and the WBC.
Rodriguez won the vacant IBF bantamweight belt in 2018 with a unanimous decision over Paul Butler in Greenwich, England. He defended his belt via split decision over Jason Moloney in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series later that year in Orlando, Florida. He, however, was destroyed by Japanese superstar Naoya Inoue via a second round knockout in a fight wherein he was dropped three times.
Gaballo, on the other hand, made a name for himself after a unanimous decision upset over highly-regarded Stephon Young by a lopsided unanimous decision to win the interim WBA bantamweight belt.
Gaballo has been on a tear since, knocking opponents out here and there. He knocked out Julias Thomas Kisarawe, Yuya Nakamura, Yeison Vargas and Chaiwat Buatkrathok in his last four contests.
Gaballo has not fought for a year but has been training non-stop at the Moro’s Gym in Miami, Florida under the guidance of Cuban coach Osmiri “Moro” Fernandez. (EKA)