Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) – November 10, 2020 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — Giemel Magramo is back home in Parañaque, none the worse for wear after losing to Junto Nakatani on an eighth round TKO for the vacant WBO flyweight crown in Tokyo last Friday but raring to prove himself all over again as deserving of another title crack.
Magramo, 26, was quarantined in a Tokyo hotel for 14 days and walked out only on the day of the fight. The two-week confinement clearly affected his conditioning as he lacked the stamina, timing and power to put the taller Nakatani on his heels. In the first round, Nakatani jarred Magramo with a left straight, leaving the Filipino with a welt under his left eye. The unbeaten Japanese southpaw kept Magramo a safe distance away with his right jab and won the opening round easily but not before taking a hard shot to the body. In the next canto, Magramo came out aggressively. Nakatani, 22, stood his ground as if immune to Magramo’s punches. The Japanese seized control with a two-fisted counterattack, often punctuated by a left hook or right uppercut. By the end of the fourth, Magramo’s mouth was wide open.
Nakatani bombarded Magramo with combinations in the fifth as the Filipino kept charging in, throwing wild punches in the air. Magramo got the jump on Nakatani early in the sixth but couldn’t sustain the pressure. He was running out of gas and his left eye was closing fast. In the seventh, Magramo went for broke and kept lunging at Nakatani, trying to land one shot to end it. Nakatani was unperturbed and like a matador taming the bull, blasted Magramo as he barged in. A right uppercut and bolo punch staggered Magramo. In a last ditch effort, Magramo pushed Nakatani to the ropes to start the eighth but a left hook sent the Filipino reeling back. Nakatani sensed the end was near. He unleashed a left straight and left hook with Magramo desperately trying to stay on his feet. Finally, Magramo fell on all fours. Referee Nabuto Ikehara stopped it at 2:10 of the eighth.
Magramo said his vision turned blurry when he got hit in the eye in the first round and couldn’t focus the rest of the way. If not for the eye problem, he said he would’ve gone the distance. He claimed Ikehara prevented him from crowding Nakatani and kept pulling them apart. His battle plan was to cut the distance, shrink the ring and force Nakatani into a slugfest but he insisted Ikehara foiled his execution. “Nasaktan ko si Nakatani sa katawan sa first round pero noong tinamaan ako sa mata, nag-iba ang paningin ko, hilo ako at ‘di na ako naka-focus,” he said. “Grabe yung referee, dapat hinayaan akong lumaban sa loob.” Magramo said at the end of the fight, he was more tired than hurt.
Magramo’s manager Johnny Elorde credited Nakatani for his performance. “Napaghandaan kami,” he said. “Alam niya ang style ni Giemel, hindi siya tumakbo, abang lang at nag-counter. Si Giemel parang (Bernabe) Villacampo ang laro, pasok ng pasok ‘yun lang kulang sa suntok kaya siya ang tinatamaan. Kulang sa follow-up. Bata pa si Giemel, marami pa siyang dadaanan at pahihirapan.”
Magramo and his team returned to Manila last Saturday and quarantined a night at the Midas Hotel to await the results of their COVID tests. They went home the next day. “Johnny told Giemel to have a good rest at babawi na lang,” said Elorde’s wife Liza who joined the team in Tokyo. “Giemel apologized and asked for another chance. No need to apologize, sabi namin, that’s boxing but dapat review niya ang tape at pagaralan kung saan siya pwedeng mag-improve. Next time, baka mabigyan ng chance uli.”