Philippines, Sports, television

Pinoy Pride and the Growth of Boxing

One of ABS-CBN‘s more recent sports series is the Pinoy Pride series. Each installment features boxers from the ALA Promotions pitted against foreign foes, with the focus towards exposing these boxers to Filipino boxing fans and showcasing their skills inside the ring. So far, 20 installments of the series have been aired, the most recent of which occurred Saturday night.

The 20th installment saw Jason Pagara retain his WBO International Junior Welterweight title via unanimous decision over Mexico’s Aaron Herrera. Jimrex Jaca also won via unanimous decision by beating Jose Emilio Perea of Mexico to retain the WBO Oriental Junior Welterweight title, while Genesis Servania knocked out Indonesian Isaac Junior in the third round of the super bantamweight bout.

The Pinoy Pride series is the latest of many live sports anthologies focusing on the sport of boxing. After the great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde gave Filipino boxing fans something to cheer for in the 1960s, the sport’s popularity in the country declined somewhat during Martial Law. However, the 1990s saw renewed growth in the sport, led by world champions Luisito Espinosa and Gerry Penalosa. It was during the run of Vintage Sports‘ Blow by Blow that fans were introduced to a then-19-year-old Manny Pacquiao, whose personality and skill captivated the crowd. The sport’s popularity and enthusiasm would grow even higher once Pacquiao earned the first of many world championships.

In the early 2000s, aside from Sunday afternoon variety shows like SOP and ASAP, there were a sprinkling of boxing-related programs being aired. Among the most notable programs were ‘In This Corner’ on PTV-4 and ‘Fistorama’ on IBC-13. However, it was through a signature that ABS-CBN and ALA Promotions released the Pinoy Pride series, showcasing up-and-coming boxing stars competing for world championships and national recognition.

The Pinoy Pride series started airing in 2010 at the height of Filipino boxing’s global recognition. At that point, Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire were the flagbearers of the sport, holding a world championship in their respective weight class. Although ABS-CBN have aired boxing specials in the past, notably the Donaire bouts, it was with this series that further raised interest in the sport. The series is credited for raising the profiles of up-and-coming world champions Rey ‘Boom-Boom’ Bautista, AJ Banal, Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes and Milan Melindo. If not for Pinoy Pride, boxing would have never been the same after Pacquiao and Donaire.

Plans are currently underway for Pinoy Pride 21. At this point, it is safe to say that Pinoy Pride extended ABS-CBN’s profile in sports coverage, while giving boxing greater coverage to Filipino fans.