Mitra to OPBF: Don’t push Filipinos around

December 27, 2018
Baham Mitra and Mar Masanguid
Games and Amusement Board (GAB) Chairman Baham Mitra and Commissioner Mar Masanguid give their full support to beleaguered Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OBF) bantamweight champion Mark John Yap of Cagayan de Oro City. GAB photos

THE Games and Amusement Board (GAB),  headed by Chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra, is taking up the cudgels  for Oriental Pacific  Boxing  Federation (OPBF) bantamweight  champion Mark John Yap.

While most of top sports officials and athletes are still in holiday mood, Mitra buckled down to work in defense of Yap,  the Filipino champion from Cagayan de Oro  City who was “unfairly  stripped of  his bantamweight title by OPBF officials from Japan.”

Mitra  raised several questions on the decision to strip Yap of the OPBF title and demote  him from chamption to No. 1 ranked contender.

Boxing analysts said the decision was “like  a below-the-belt punch that must not be tolerated in boxing.”

In a short but direct-to-the point letter to OPBF head Tsuyoshi Yasukochi of Japan, Mitra questioned the decision of the OPBF, a professional boxing organization affiliated to the World Boxing Council that sanctions title fights in the Asian and Pacific region.

“We at the Philippines Games and Amusements Board (GAB) would like to formally inquire why Filipino boxer Mark John Yap was removed  as OPBF bantamweight champion, and why now only rated as # 1? May we request for an explanation,” Mitra wrote.    

Copies of the letter were obtained by the Tabloid Organization  in  Philippine  Sports (TOPS), the Manila-based media group composed of the country’s leading tabloids.

Mitra argued that  the removal of Yap’s title without a valid reason has caused harm to the Filipino’s rating in the WBC world rankings.

“This (stripping of Yap’s title) has caused  him  (Yap) to lose his WBC # 11 world ratings.”

Furthermore, facts seem to indicate that Yasokuchi  requested the WBC Ratings Committee to remove Yap from his WBC rating.

“I do not  want Filipinos to be  pushed  around,” stressed Mitra.

In his Fight News Asia report,  veteran boxing journalist Carlos Costa wrote extensively about Yap’s case.

“Who is Filipino  fighter Mark John Yap and why he as stripped of OPBF belt?

Since GAB, the Philippine government’s authority  that oversees pro boxing in the country, puts all its  weight on  this serious issue, here is a brief  recap  on Mark John’s battles as OPBF champ at a  moment when Filipino boxing fans wonder if the OPBF was right in stripping the Pinoy fighter of his title, or not:

With the ring  name of “Journey Man,” Mark John Yap (29-13, 14 KO’s)  claimed the vacant OPBF  bantamweight championship by knocking out in five rounds the reigning  OPBF champion Takahiro Yamamoto (21-6, 17 KO’s) in  November of 2016 in Kobe, Japan.

Then, the Filipino successfully defended his OPBF belt by overpowering Japanese bantamweight national champion Kentaro Masuda (27-9, 15 KO’s) in July of 2017 in Osaka, Japan.

Again, “The Journey Man” defended his title by destroying tough Japanese challenger Seizo Kono (19-11-1, 12 KO’s) in ten chapters in December of last year in Osaka, Japan.

And again, Mark John Yap defended his OPBF crown by defeating Nippon warrior Takafumi Nakajima (29-11-1, 13 KO’s) in April of 2018 in Tokyo.

The successive OPBF victories earned Yap the right to battle for an WBC title eliminator against unbeaten Japanese rising star Takuma Inoue (12-0, 3 KO’s). It was a 12-round battle in September of 2018 in Tokyo, a good battle that the Filipino lost by points.

However, in the eliminator fight against Takuma Inoue, Mark John Yap’s OPBF title was not on the line.

Therefore, it seems that Yap has been an active  OPBF champion who has never lost his belt in the ring, for which stripping him of his title and placing him as No. 1 ranked boxer could be considered as controversial, thus giving merits to the formal inquiry being put forward by GAB.”