Gaballo KOs Pharob in 32 seconds, eyes title fight

Boxing

World Boxing Organization No. 1 bantamweight contender Reymart Gaballo had hoped to get in some rounds Tuesday night to boost his preparations for a possible title shot against reigning WBO 118-lb. champion Jason Moloney of Australia.

Instead, he was in the ring for only 32 seconds following a devastating knockout of Thai veteran Phai Pharob in the first round of their WBO Oriental bantamweight title fight.

The crowd at the Midas Hotel had barely warmed their seats for the main event when the hard-punching Gaballo (27-1, 22 KOs) immediately unleashed a three-punch combination capped off by a left hook to the liver that sent the 40-year-old Pharob (35-4, 27 KOs), a former World Boxing Association (WBA) interim minimumweight champion, crumpling to the canvas.

Pharob didn’t even attempt to get up as he lay writhing in pain while referee Danrex Tapdasan counted him out.

“Akala ko tatayo pa siya,” Gaballo said afterwards. “Pero na-feel ko talaga iyong suntok. Medyo solid talaga iyong palo.”

The bout, scheduled for 12 rounds, was the main event of a nine-fight card put together by Sanman Promotions in cooperation with MP Promotions. The co-main event saw super flyweight prospect KJ Catajara end a year-long layoff with a unanimous decision victory over Jun Blazo in an eight-round bout.

Gaballo’s only other world title shot, for the World Boxing Council bantamweight belt, ended in a fourth-round knockout at the hands of Nonito Donaire, Jr. in December 2021, thus far the only loss of his career. For the second straight fight, Gaballo was trained by Nonito Donaire, Sr., whom he said has worked wonders for his career.

“Parating ni-reremind sa akin ni coach (Donaire, Sr.) iyong accuracy, timing, balance ko,” Gaballo said, while adding that they had been working on that body shot during training. Interestingly, Donaire, Jr. stopped Gaballo by a similar shot to the liver when they fought.

Gaballo, 27, solidified his position as mandatory challenger to Moloney, who successfully defended his belt for the first time last month with a majority decision over Saul Sanchez. Moloney captured the WBO title with a majority decision win over Filipino Vincent Astrolabio in May 2023.

With the Philippines currently without a world boxing champion from any of the four major bodies, Gaballo looms as one of the country’s brightest hopes to break through.

Moloney has been mentioned as a possible participant on the undercard of the Vasily Lomachenko-George Kambosos, Jr. fight scheduled for May 12 in Perth, but his opponent for what would be his second title defense has not yet been named. Gaballo’s local promoter JC Manangquil of Sanman Promotions confirmed to ESPN that they will be pursuing a title shot against Moloney

Gaballo said he’ll continue his training immediately just in case he gets the call. “Patuloy pa rin ang ensayo. Balik kaagad.”

Moloney’s only career losses have come at the hands of top fighters Naoya Inoue of Japan via knockout and Emmanuel Rodriguez of Puerto Rico via split decision. Gaballo beat Rodriguez via split decision in December 2020.

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