By LITO DELOS REYES
FORMER world champion Rey “Hitman” Loreto (23W-14L-0D, 15 KOs) of Davao City is fighting again, seven months later after he lost his bid for the world title in Thailand.
Loreto, a former International Boxing Council (IBO) World light flyweight title-holder, is facing former World Boxing Federation (WBF) Asia Pacific Light Flyweight champion Arnold “Destroyer” Garde of President Roxas, North Cotabato on February 17 at the Gaisano City Mall in Bacolod City.
The Loreto-Garde 8-rounder non-title match is the main supporting bout of the exciting championship between defending Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF) light flyweight king Edward “El Heneral” Heno (11W-0L-5D, 5 KOs) of Baguio and former world champion Merlito “Tiger” Sabillo (27W-4L-1D, 13 KOs) of Bacolod City.
It is promoted by Brico Santig of Highland International Boxing Promotion.
Loreto, who is currently training now at the Highland Boxing Gym in La Trinidad, Benguet previously lost by a unanimous decision to reigning WBA World minimumweight champion Thammanoon Niyomtrong last July 15 in Chonburi, Thailand.
It was only Loreto’s first loss since scoring seven straight wins starting in 2013 when he captured the interim PABA light flyweight title by knocking out Pornsawan Porpramook by a 10th round technical decision in Bangkok.
“I will try to make a big comeback win to prove that I can still be champion again,” said the 27-year old Loreto.
He knocked out Nkosinathi Joyi in the 3rd round to capture the vacant IBO World light flyweight crown on Feb. 1, 2014 in Monte Carlo. Despite having a fresh wound from a recent operation due to acute appendicitis, Loreto was able to knockout Joyi in the 1st round only to retain his world title during their rematch held on March 22, 2015 in Mdantsane, South Africa.
However, Loreto has not yet received his boxer’s purse amounting to more than P1 million from the South African promoters until now.
Garde (8W-5L-3D, 3 KOs), on the other hand, has been training at the Empire Boxing Gym in Davao City.
He won the vacant WBF Asia Pacific light flyweight title via a split decision against Ronie Tanallon last March 12 in T’Boli, South Cotabato.
Garde then settled a technical draw with Indonesian Tibo Monabesa in their battle for the WBC International Silver light flyweight crown last May 20 in Jakarta.
In his last fight, the 27-year old Garde suffered a 2nd round knockout loss to defending WBC International light flyweight champion Jonathan Taconing last October 15 in Paranaque City.