Newly-crowned IBO flyweight champion Dave Apolinario is ready and raring to bring his class act anywhere in the world.
In fact, Apolinario believes the time to challenge for the world titles in more-established boxing bodies, like the WBC and WBA, is now.
On top of his wish list are two of the most-feared fighters in the crowded flyweight division: British champion Sunny Edwards, who has held the IBF flyweight title since 2021, and Mexican hero Juan Manuel Martinez, who has held the WBC flyweight title since 2019.
“Ang gusto kong labanan talaga si Edwards, pati si Martinez. Sila ‘yung pangarap kong makalaban kung pwede. Pero kahit sino naman na ka-timbangg ko sa flyweight category, handa naman akong lumaban palagi,” said Apolinario during the 33rd “Sports on Air” program via Zoom.
Apolinario, nicknamed the “Doberman”, claimed he will always be fit as a fiddle when the opportunity to challenge for world title with bigger prizes comes.
“Sa ngayon, kundisyon naman ang katawan ko. Non-stop ang training dahil hindi mo alam ‘yung paparating na laban. Gaya nitong huling laban ko, medyo biglaan,” added the 23-year-old fighter from Sarangani, who now boasts of a perfect ring record of 17 wins in as many fights.
Apolinario rose to prominence when he knocked out Gideon “Hardcore” Buthelezi in the first round of their scheduled 12-round fight for the vacant IBO flyweight crown in East London, South Africa last July 31.
Before losing to Apolinario, the 36-year-old Buthelezi won over four other Filipino fighters from 2010-2017—Ronelle Ferreras (UD), Julius Alcos (UD), Edrin Dapudong (SD), Dapudong (KO), and Ryan Rey Ponteras (UD).
So impressive was Apolinario’s victory that no less than President Bongbong Marcos personally congratulated him during a courtesy visit at Malacañang last Aug. 3.
“Nakatutuwa na mismong si President Marcos ang nag-congratulate sa akin. ‘Yung suporta na ipinakita niya, magandang balita ‘yun, hindi lang sa akin kundi sa mga kapwa ko atleta,” stressed Apolinario.
Two days later, Sen. Bong Go led fellow lawmakers in paying tribute to Apolinatio.
Asked to choose between Edwards and Martinez, Apolinario is more inclined to take on the Briton.
Edwards earned the attention of local fight fans when he outpointed the previously undefeated Filipino champion Jayson Mama to retain his IBF flyweight world title in Dubai.
The hard-hitting British champion knocked the Flipino down in the 10th round en route to a unanimous decision victory, 117-110, 118-109, and 118-109.
“Gusto natin makabawi sa kanya para sa kababayan natin,” said Apolinario.
Apolinario claimed he had many memorable battles against fellow Filipino fighters, including Adrian Lerasan, whom he described as “a very good and talented fighter.”
Apolinario defeated Lerasan in a 10-round unanimous decision victory held at the TV 5 Studio in Novaliches last June 6, 2019—his 11th win in a row since turning pro in 2017.
Apolinario’s promoter-manager, JC Manangquil of Sanman Promotions, said the Filipino fighter is definitely pursuing bigger fights in the United States.
“Right now, we’re just waiting for his US visa. Even before fighting Buthelezi, we have already applied at the US Embassy,” admitted Manangquil.
He revealed that another Sanman Promotions fighter, Mike Plania, is set to challenge for the world title against undefeated Ra’eese Aleem at the Crypto. com Arena in Los Angeles on Sept. 4.
The Plania-Aleem fight is for the NABO super bantamweight crown.