Unbeaten superflyweight contender Drian (Gintong Kamao) Francisco was advised yesterday by his manager Elmer Anuran not to take Panama‘s Ricardo (El Matematico) Nunez lightly and focus on staying aggressive in their 12-round WBA title eliminator this Saturday at the Ynares Gym in Pasig. Anuran was surprised when he visited Nunez at the Holiday Inn the other night and said he hardly looked like the fighter on the film that Francisco and trainer Benny de la Pena broke down.
“We were able to find only one tape of Nunez and it was a six-round fight in 2007 when he stopped Carlos Rivas in three,” said Anuran. “He didn’t look too physically impressive but that was three years ago. Now, his muscles are defined and he looks very strong.”
Nunez, 22, has figured in nine bouts since disposing of Rivas to raise his record to 17-1, with 15 Kos. He is now ranked No. 2 by the WBA while Francisco is No. 3. The survivor will be named the mandatory challenger of the winner of the WBA superflyweight title bout between defending champion Nobuo Nashiro and challenger Hugo Cazares in Osaka on May 8. Nunez arrived in Manila last Friday with celebrated trainer Francisco (Tolete) Arroyo, conditioning coach Gustavo Cervantes and Panamanian boxing aficionado Carlos Costa.
The fight was originally scheduled last March 27 but was postponed to April 17 after Nunez supposedly suffered a cut in training camp.
“When I met Nunez, I didn’t notice any cut on his face,” said Anuran. “I suspect he asked for a postponement to get more time with his new trainer Arroyo. I know he’s ready. He’s just limbering up in the hotel gym. He’s done with sparring. He’s not even asking to work out in a ring. He should be about 117-118 pounds right now so I don’t think he’ll have a problem making weight. He told me he’s going back to Panama victorious.”
Arroyo was in Panamanian Rafael Concepcion ‘s corner when El Torito stopped A. J. Banal in Cebu two years ago. He is the trainer of WBA and IBF superbantamweight titlist Celestino Caballero and Nehomar Cermeno who just suffered his first loss in a defeat by split decision to WBA bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno last March 27.
“I told Drian not to be overconfident because we don’t know too much about Nunez,” said Anuran. “Drian is basically a counterpuncher but for this fight, our plan is to be aggressive in the first five rounds, put the pressure on Nunez and size up his power. If we need to adjust and box, we’ll do it. We’ll do whatever it takes to win because we’re just one fight away from going for a world title.”
Anuran said Francisco has sparred over 200 rounds and is fit to go to war.
“His training was excellent,” said Anuran. “Drian sparred with guys like Dondon Jimenea and Vicente Palicte. He was never interrupted unlike in the (Roberto) Vasquez fight where he had to rest for a week because of sore eyes. He weighed 117 yesterday so making the 115-pound limit should be no problem.”
Anuran said Francisco isn’t fazed by the pressure of winning before a hometown crowd.
“There’s no room for mistakes,” said Anuran. “Defeat is not an option. After beating Vasquez, Drian started feeling the pressure because suddenly, everyone was calling him a future world champion. He appreciates the full support of the Solar network and doesn’t want to let management down. There are big expectations but Drian isn’t worried. In terms of technical skills, he’s confident he can hold his own against anyone in the world.”
Anuran said he predicts the fight will end in six or seven rounds. “I’m confident if it goes the distance, Drian will win the decision because he’s so technically proficient,” he continued. “But if it ends in a knockout, I think Drian will win in six or seven. Nunez has never fought beyond six rounds in his career while it took Drian 10 rounds to finish off Vasquez and he also went 10 rounds with Jun Eraham. Drian’s experience will be a factor.”
Francisco, 27, has an 18-0-1 record, with 14 KOs. Last October, he claimed the vacant WBA International superflyweight crown by stopping Vasquez, a Panamanian like Nunez, at the Cuneta Astrodome.