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GAB chief Mitra insists Saludar won regular WBA belt as confusion arises

The Philippines finally got to host a world title fight again, but questions suddenly surround afterward. GAB
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--One day after Vic Saludar prevailed in the first world title fight in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, confusion suddenly arose on what belt he actually won.

The World Boxing Association, in a news release, announced that Saludar only won the interim minimumweight belt after he defeated fellow Filipino pug Robert Paradero in Binan on Saturday.

This runs contrary to what had been advertised since the Christmas season that the match was for the regular belt.

The WBA even said in a Jan. 22 release that a match between Mexican Jose Argumedo and Nicaraguan Byron Rojas has been ordered for the supposedly vacant regular belt.

The camps of Argumedo and Rojas were given up to Feb. 19 to make the bout happen.

No update about the Argumedo-Rojas negotiations surfaced since then, and the Saludar-Paradero bout finally pushed through after some postponements mainly due to the pandemic.

Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra admitted to Dugout Philippines that he too was puzzled about what just transpired.

However, he insisted that Saludar won the regular belt.

"[The] WBA championship [bout] between Saludar and Paradero is [for the] regular championship," Mitra said in a text message.

He even said that Saludar should be given proper recognition since the current super champ, Thailand's Thammamoon Niyomtrong, more known by the name Knockout CP Freshmart, has been out for quite some time already.

"Kung tutuusin, considered na regular champion pa rin si Saludar in the absence of a 'world champion'," Mitra further said.

Niyomtrong has yet to return to the squared circle since beating Japanese foe Norihito Tanaka on March 3, 2020 in Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, although it can be noted that the pandemic mainly attributed to the former's absence.

Niyomtrong officially obtained the WBA belt after stripping it from Rojas on June 29, 2016 in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

Niyomtrong has since upgraded the title to super status after successfully defending the belt for eight times already, including a rematch against Rojas and wins against Filipino opponents Rey Loreto, Toto Landero, and Ar-Ar Andales. Thus, the need to crown a new regular champ.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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