Philippines’ Dave “The Doberman” Apolinario, still grieving the loss of his mother three months ago, crowned himself the International Boxing Organization (IBO) flyweight champion after beating South African legend Gideon Buthelezi via a first-round knockout at the International Convention Center in East London, South Africa on July 30, 2022.
He dedicated his win to his late mother, wishing that she was around to celebrate with him his first world title.
“This is for you mom., for the Philippines, and for my team!” Apolinario said in a Philboxing.com report.
The 23-year-old Apolinario, who hails from Maasin, Sarangani, unleashed a wicked straight left to end Buthelezi’s nine-fight winning streak since 2015. Had Apolinario’s follow-up right hook not missed while his opponent was already on the way down, it would have been an outright knockout.
He said, “I need to knock him out in order to surely win.”
Dave Apolinario recap
The Filipino improved his clean record to 17-0, including 12 knockouts, while 36-year-old three-division IBO champion Buthelezi, who dropped to 23-6 with five knockouts, may even be facing retirement soon.
His rousing victory also snapped the string of losses suffered by Filipino boxers this year after Mark Magsayo, Nonito Donaire, Jerwin Ancajas, and Rene Mark Cuarto lost their world championships. Manny Pacquiao announced his retirement while John Riel Casimero was stripped of his WBO bantamweight championship belt.
Apolinario and Buthelezi sized up each other from the opening bell as they traded jabs and single shots. But the young Filipino ring warrior was undeniably more aggressive than the South African who was just moving around, oblivious to the blow that he was about to suffer.
Dave Apolinario then erupted with a solid one-two, sending a helpless Buthelezi to the canvas. The latter attempted to get up and paused on one knee, but Buthelezi tried to get up and paused on one knee until the referee counted ten. Apolinario and his cornermen broke into wild cheer atop the ring after the referee officially signaled the end of the fight.
Sanman Promotions CEO Jim Claude Manangquil was elated by his ward’s triumph, saying that he was confident of an Apolinario stoppage of Buthelezi.
“He is a showman,” Manangquil said of Apolinario, “It was the performance of his life but this is just the beginning. Dave is here to get the other belts.”
Apolinario’s world rank
Apolinario’s rankings in world boxing sanctioning bodies are expected to improve after his title win. He was ranked No. 6 by the World Boxing Association (WBA), No. 10 by the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and No. 15 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) at 112 pounds when he fought Buthelezi.
Before he turned professional at age 18, Apolinario was an amateur boxing standout, sweeping gold medals in the Philippine National Games and Palarong Pambansa boxing competitions.
The IBO, according to its website, is a respected and successful independent sanctioning body that does not have any other sanctioning organization.
Others may not consider it a big deal to win an IBO title but world champions like Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, Roy Jones Jr, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Gennadiy Golovkin, Anthony Joshua, and Oleksandr Usyk, among many others were proud to wear IBO belts.