KUALA LUMPUR - It is rare for a powerhouse in the sporting world like China to need help from the Philippines. But when that time came, this training camp welcomed its athletes with open arms.
Filipino boxing champ Sen. Manny Pacquiao's MP Promotions welcomed to its camp nine Chinese fighters who chose his team to train as professional boxers. Among them are two of several undercard fighters in the bout between Pacquiao and Argentine Lucas Matthysse on Sunday.
These boxers traveled far to mold their talent in General Santos City, where Pacquiao trained for his upcoming fight.
China's lanky Yongqiang Yang will be facing Harmonito dela Torre of the Philippines while Lu Bin, an Olympic boxer, is chasing boxing history as he guns for a world title in just his second professional bout.
Lu is set to face Venezuela's Carlos Canizales in a 12-round match for the WBA light flyweight belt at the Axiata Arena here. If he wins, Lu will be the first ever to snag a world title in just two matches.
"There is no good professional boxing trainer in China because professional boxing in the country has only 4 or 5 years history," Tian Ye, boxing coach and matchmaker in China, told ABS-CBN News.
In 2017, Pacquiao went to Beijing for a signing ceremony with a Chinese sports development company as he is planning to build an international boxing academy there.
The academy hopes to tap foreign coaches around the world to develop Chinese boxers and become world-class professional fighters.
BOXING WORLD'S NEXT BIG THING?
As Lu eyes a world title belt, Tian said the only way to make it happen is to find a good professional boxing training camp. And found it they did, albeit thousands of miles away from home.
"We came to General Santos. We saw great professional training. So I called many Chinese boxers to [MP] camp," Tian said.
He said Pacquiao saw potential in Lu and, seeing that he has a chance to become a world champ, helped him land a world title match.
Buboy Fernandez confirmed that Lu may write history in his July 15 bout, citing how the young Chinese fighter was worthy of a title fight.
"History ito kasi pag 'nanalo ito, malalagay siya sa Guinness Book of World Records (This is history because if he wins, he will be included in the Guinness Book of World Records)," Fernandez shared to ABS-CBN News.
He said it was rare for a neophyte professional boxer to get a title match, but Lu's experience showed that he was ripe for such a bout.
Fernandez said he was impressed at the skills of the Chinese boxers who stayed with the MP camp for more than a month in General Santos City.
"Akala namin noong dumating dito 'yung 9 na Chinese, tuturuan pa namin. Pero sa nakita ko as chief trainer nila, kino-correct lang natin 'yung iba sa kanila (We thought when the 9 Chinese [fighters] arrived, we would have to teach them. But what I saw as chief trainer is that we only had to correct some of them)," Fernandez said.
Tian, meanwhile, bared that his fighters were so impressed with Pacquiao's attitude on training as the People's Champ moved tirelessly despite rigid preparations for the fight.
NO LANGUAGE BARRIER
Fernandez said the Chinese boxers were puzzled by the differences in training between that of Team Pacquiao and other boxing camps.
"Ang relasyon ng isang boksingero at trainer [sa amin] iba. 'Yan ang nagustuhan nila (The relationship between the boxer and the trainer in our camp is different. That's what they liked)," he said.
"Bawat araw na ginagalaw nila, may sinasabi kami sa kanila pero nagbibigay kami ng gap sa kanila kasi importante 'yung respeto sa isa't isa (Every day they train, we give them instructions but we also give them space because respect for one another is important)," Fernandez added.
While the two sides use different languages, communication and instruction between the Chinese athletes and their Filipino coaches are not hampered.
Pacquiao's trainer said he usually uses online translation through his smartphone and then makes his trainees read his instructions.
"Pagdating sa training kasi buti na lang nababasa niya 'yung galaw namin. Kung ano sinesenyas ko sa kaniya, nakukuha naman niya (When it comes to training, it's good that he's able to understand our movements. What I gesture to him, he gets it)," Fernandez said.
Tian, who also helps translate instructions for the Chinese fighters, shared that boxing is not about so many words but more about actions and symbols.
PH BOXERS, TRAINERS HAVE 'BIG HEART'
For Tian, what makes Filipino boxers special and talented are their passion for the sport and adept trainers that mold them to become world champions.
"They were good, no lacking [problems]. Philippine boxers have big heart and coaches," Tian said.
Meanwhile, Fernandez underscored the Chinese boxers' hardwork in every training, likening it to the Filipinos' fighting attitude.
"Ayaw nila magsayang ng minuto. Tinatanong ko nga sa kanila kung ilang taon kapag nai-involve 'yung athlete niyo [sa sports], sabi nila 3 years old palang involved na. So binibigyan sila ng pansin ng government (They don't want to waste any minute. I asked them how young do their athletes start being involved in sports, they said as early as 3 years old. So their government gives them attention)," Fernandez said.
Fernandez is proud and happy for the trust given by the Chinese boxers to the MP camp. He also said it would be a great recognition for the Philippines if a world champion was trained by a Filipino.
Tian said his group is planning to invite good boxing trainers from the Philippines to come to China and help them develop more boxers.
He also revealed that they might return to General Santos City to again train with MP Promotions if Lu wins his fight against Canizales and go for another world title fight.
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