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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:30 pm 
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Marvelous' Marvin Sonsona's cautionary tale

With less than two weeks before his 21st birthday, it's hard to classify former World Boxing Organization (WBO) super flyweight champion "Marvelous" Marvin Sonsona as a tragic case just yet.

After 17 months since his last ring appearance, those most instrumental to his career are wondering when – and if – they'll see him in the ring again.

Marvin Sonsona (left) and Nonito Donaire Sr.
"He disappeared, and I don't know what happened to Marvin," said Allen Tremblay, who owns the Canadian promotional rights to the southpaw slugger from General Santos City, Philippines. Three other men – Filipino promoter Sammy Gello-ani, Sampson Lewkowicz and American promoter Leon Margules – also manage his career.

"I believe that Sonsona got his fame too fast and he couldn't hold it," said Lewkowicz, the colorful Las Vegas-based matchmaker who helped jump start Sonsona's international career.

"He made very good money, got paid very well and then it's so shameful that a good athlete and excellent boxer turned his back to this sport," continued Lewkowicz. "I thought that he would be the next Manny Pacquiao, but it was not the case."

"I am frustrated but still hoping sooner he will realize what he did was wrong and voluntarily return to the gym and start training," said Gello-ani, echoing the thoughts of others.

Road to prominence

The last time Sonsona graced inside the ring was on February 27, 2010. Sonsona suffered his first defeat at the hands of the stronger, larger Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in the victor's hometown of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

The defeat was demoralizing, but certainly not the career-ending type that should alter one's career forever. Still, Sonsona has scarcely been in the gym, allowing fight date after fight date to pass without a return, say his promoters.

Sonsona, who is still 14-1-1 (12 KO) as a professional, laced up the gloves for his first amateur fight at age 12, eventually winning Filipino national amateur titles in tournaments like the Palarong Pambansa and Batang Pinoy.

According to writer Dennis Gasgonia, Sonsona originally wanted to become a police officer, but dropped out of high school to work as a garbage collector to help support his family. His family's poverty was part of the reason why he turned professional at age 17.

His first professional opponent was Richard Donaire, a cousin of current bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire Jr. who was also making his pro debut. Donaire would last the four-round distance in a losing effort, and would be the last man to hear the final bell against Sonsona over the course of his next 12 fights.

Incredible punching power

Sonsona and his 5-foot-7 frame – which is exceptionally tall for the 115-pound weight class – enabled him, with proper spacing, to generate otherworldly punching power like Thomas Hearns and Bob Foster of generations past.

"When you walk in the gym there are certain people that hit the pads or hit the bag and there's a different sound to it. Marvin is one of those people. I've been around boxing a long time, he can really really punch," said Tremblay, who also promotes Filipina-American boxer Ana Julaton.

Sonsona would use that power to lay waste to a number of nondescript opponents –mostly in the province of Cebu – before making his first leap in competition in May of 2009.

Sonsona, then just 18 years old, would face 29-year-old Thai Wandee Singwancha, who had 58 fights to his credit and had challenged unsuccessfully for a title several years prior. Although Singwancha had lost two of his last three before the Sonsona fight, he was expected to be a difficult test for the Filipino southpaw.

Singwancha never stood a chance.

Midway through the second round, the longer Sonsona began to let his hands go with bad intentions. One left hand - thrown at a 45 degree angle – dropped the Thai to the canvas face-first, unconscious.

Sonsona would win his first world title in his next fight, staving off Puerto Rican veteran Jose "Carita" Lopez in a back-and-forth struggle in Ontario, Canada that saw Sonsona go the 12-round distance for the first time.

Blinded by fame, fortune?

For the first time in his life, Sonsona had money, fame and all the friends that one man could claim. Some would say he had too many friends for his own good.

"He had money and all the friends who never saw money before, and now he sees money and he gets blind. It's a terrible story."

Sonsona started missing training sessions to hang out with his new-found friends, enjoying the female attention that success brings. After making close to $20,000 USD for his title-winning effort, many in his team said that the hunger to succeed seemed to seep from him.

"We bring him to Manila to train, and after a couple of weeks he left to his home island," said Lewkowicz. "He said he wants to have his birthday one time, he said his Mom needed him. He went back and didn't train properly. The problem with youth in every country in everywhere with the boxers, after you get the fame, you can be changed. The fame killed his soul and bad people surrounded him."

Nonito Donaire Sr., who was an assistant to Sonsona's primary trainer Jhun Agrabio for the Lopez and Vasquez fights, said that training for the Vazquez fight was continuously interrupted by Sonsona's "immature" attitude and partying.

"Every time that he trains, there is people always with him, and I told him it's not good what you're doing. He's really a kid, he's always playing around," said Donaire Sr.

"I heard from some writers that he goes out during the night. For me, I just do my job to train him but I don't want to stop what he's doing because if you say something to him, he's not going to go to the gym."

"These friends encourage him to drink and do drugs, and women and I don't know what else," said Lewkowicz, who first brought Manny Pacquiao to international attention years back. "I cannot accuse him, but this is what the rumors are."

Losing the title

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Just two months after winning the title, Sonsona was slated to make his first defense against rugged Mexican Alejandro Hernandez. Sonsona missed the contracted weight of 115 pounds by 2.5 pounds, effectively stripping him of the belt before he even stepped in the ring.

"We cried together when he couldn't make the weight," said Lewkowicz. "I was the one with Gello-ani who said 'If you cannot make the weight because you grew up, let's lose the title and win the fight.'

Sonsona would have to settle for a draw against Hernandez, with one judge scoring it for him, another for Hernandez and the third having it even. The fight was entertaining, but it was little consolation for Sonsona, who could no longer call himself "champion."

Just weeks prior to the Vazquez fight in Puerto Rico, which would be contested for the vacant WBO title at the 122 pound super bantamweight limit, Lewkowicz brought Sonsona to Las Vegas to watch another of Lewkowicz's Filipino pugs Ciso Morales challenge Fernando Montiel for the bantamweight title.

While in Vegas, Lewkowicz, who describes his relationship with Sonsona as "fatherly", took Sonsona to get his first manicure, because "a champion needs to have clean nails." Lewkowicz then brought him to his palatial residence and showed Sonsona his two Mercedes-Benz cars.

One is a four-door, while the other is a 2008 SL class two-door sports car, only a year old at the time, which belonged to his wife whom never used the vehicle. Lewkowicz said he paid $60,000 for it brand new.

"You win this fight, this is your car," Lewkowicz said, pointing to the two-door.

"Oh, I cannot bring this Mercedes to the Philippines, because then I'll get killed," Sonsona said, according to Lewkowicz.

"No, you come and you train in California and you'll use this car to go around."

Sonsona never held up his end of the bargain. By the fourth round of the Vasquez fight, all of the pre-fight complacency had caught up to him. Sonsona moved around, fist cocked to punch, but with none of the snap and explosiveness needed to land the punches.

"He did his best, but the problem is he doesn't listen when I said don't get caught in that corner. He was just looking for one good punch but it didn't happen," said Donaire, who stepped in as chief trainer in the corner after Agrabio was denied a US visa.

"When he fought, he really had the confidence that he can beat Vazquez, but the problem is he doesn't listen to me when I told him don't get hit too much. He answered me back 'He has no power, I'm able to handle his power.'"

Marvin Sonsona (left) against Alejandro Hernandez.
Sonsona, squared up along the ropes, was hit by a left hook to the body followed by a right cross that snapped his head back. Vazquez faked a punch to the head but returned with a left hook the body. Sonsona paused briefly, threw his own punch but collapsed from the delayed reaction. He wouldn't make the 10 count.

"When he got hit with the body shot, that's it," said Donaire. "I thought he could get up from that body shot, but he was gone, he was through."

Still hopeful

"I've given everything to this kid, and he embarrassed himself," said Lewkowicz. "He didn't train properly and he lost the crown."

Sonsona did make $50,000 for the Vazquez fight, as was reported by Joaquin Henson immediately after the fight.

Sonsona's rollercoaster ride of winning the title, losing it on the scales and being knocked out in his second title try all took place in just a six month span.

Despite the frustrations of dealing with Sonsona, his handlers haven't completely lost hope.

Numerous attempts to bring Sonsona back have fallen by the wayside due to more Sonsona inconsistencies in training. The most recent attempt was just three months ago, scheduled in the Philippines.

"We tried to program his return but it did not happen due to his training attitude," said Gello-ani, who has promoted him since 2008.

Tremblay feels relocating to North America full-time would be his best bet to staying focused for Sonsona if and when he decides to box again.

"What I would love for him to do is move here and get the heck out of the Philippines. We've talked to him about this before. He'll move to Canada and we'll get him a job in the Filipino community because he doesn't speak English, where he can then learn to speak English," said Tremblay.

"He needs a strength and conditioning coach to build his body up so he can take those shots at a higher weight. The talent is there, but he has to get his head straight and decide if he wants to fight for a career or what the heck he wants to do.

"I don't think the alternatives for him are that great."

Needs maturity

All of that is a pipe dream until Sonsona can first show his desire, Lewkowicz said. Lewkowicz recalls three previous attempts by Gello-ani to relocate Sonsona for training – once to Cebu and twice to Manila – all of which failed to keep Sonsona focused.

"I will not bring him to America if he does not prove himself in the Philippines. I will not go to all this expense like I did in the Philippines and he walks away anyways from me. He needs to make sure he wants to come back, and I will help him."

"In the mean time, we will not force anybody to come to the gym and train. I will not accept nobody that doesn't have the motivation and doesn't have the courage to continue in the most noble sport that is boxing."

Those who have witnessed his meteoric rise and precipitous fall know that serious growing up must first take place before any return can materialize.

"Marvin is just like a boy to me, not matured enough yet," said Donaire Sr. "He's still a kid. "I know he's a very talented fighter, he hits hard but the maturity of him is not there yet. We'll wait until he matures enough."

"I just think he's a young man, we've all been down that road. God knows I sure have," said Tremblay. "Next trip over I will make inquires about him but he's got to meet me half way."

Neither Sonsona or head trainer Agrabio returned emails seeking comment for this article. None of the men interviewed for this story claim to have had recent communication with Sonsona, either. Sonsona can be found from time to time on his Facebook, available for chat, but never responding to requests for interviews.

"Please send a message to not only Marvin Sonsona, but to every kid in the Philippines that when you get to the fame, that you cannot trust friends because it will destroy your life. This is the case of Marvin Sonsona," said Lewkowicz.

"He forgot his family, his friends, he forgot his promoters and he forgot the most important thing – he forgot about boxing."
- JVP, GMA News


di paba ubos pera ni party animal marvin sonsona?
lulutang yan pag wala ng pang bisyo at kumakalam na ang sikmura.
sayang si marvin. magaling pero ugok


PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:05 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 11:01 am
Posts: 4222
Location: leyte
marvin sonsona: 'kala nyo masarap magboksing. hindi ah....

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 6:46 pm
Posts: 8857
Location: katunggan
fame did get into his head, too bad he did'nt care to listen to people who knows what it takes to be there, but hey it's not too late he is still young. Even MP was once down that road after he was KO'd by torrecampo, i hope he pulls himself together and get back to the gym and this time be the best that he can be.. :)

ambot lang!!

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:23 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:28 am
Posts: 523
Sayang si Marvelous :headache: naging MarveLaus :biglaugh: :bounce1:

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:55 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2004 2:20 am
Posts: 1979
Location: New Jersey
Thanks for posting. Only thing missing is that Ryan Songalia wrote it :)


PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:09 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2010 7:41 pm
Posts: 234
Location: Dubai. UAE
rockman-pacman wrote:
Sayang si Marvelous :headache: naging MarveLaus :biglaugh: :bounce1:

Mabutiti pa si Eden Sonsona matibay ang pagmumukha :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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