When Carl Jammes Martin steps on the ring on Saturday, December 17, at the Cordillera Career Development gym to fight Thai Komgrich Nantapech, he carries the hope of more than a million Cordillerans wanting to see another son in the world stage.
It has been 59 long years since a Cordilleran wore a world title belt. It was an Iloko native, San Fernando, La Union, turned Baguio resident who last wore such a strap. Roberto Cruz or actually Roberto dela Cruz, was the son of a policeman who wanted his kids to learn to speak English so they moved up to Baguio, said siser Jaylie de Jesus, nee dela Cruz.
It was on March 21, 1963, when Cruz first fought outside of the Philippines, in Los Angeles, California, United States where he faced Battling Torres from Mexico at the Dodgers Stadium for the vacant WBA light welterweight title . The underdog Cruz knocked out one of the hardest hitting punchers of his time in the first round to win the title.
In April 29, 1978, then Baguio resident (Camdas) Rey Tam challenged Alexis Arguelles for the latter’s WBC super featherweight belt but lost after five rounds.
Some 44 years later, another Cordilleran may just reach the apex of his professional boxing career. Martin is the reigning Philippine Boxing Federation super bantamweight when he faced Ronnie Baldonado. It was March 12, when he first fell but recovered to beat Baldonado via technical knockout to win the WBA – Asia super bantamweight belt.
Martin has been signed by Parabellum, which promotes Nonito Donaire, Jr., but has opted to fight for the meantime in his country to improve his game further.
The December 17 fight will see Martin try to get his second belt, the IBF Pan Pacific belt. The only block is the Thai Nantapech and he hopes to get past his opponent to improve his stock. It will be Martin’s first fight in this part of the region due “to requests of kailyans to see him fight before he goes abroad,” said Pinoy Boxing Prodigy top man Darwin Miller Dep-ay.
In 20 fights, Martin has never been defeated and 16 of said fights were knockouts.
Next year, it will be the 60th year since the victory of Cruz. Next year marks also the 45th year since Tam’s fight against the legendary Nicaraguan boxer.
Will Martin be the next big thing? Saturday’s match will see if he is ready for the world.