Ryan Songalia

Landero to get shot at WBO champ Fuentes

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino strawweight contender Michael Landero will be the next Pinoy to try his luck at becoming world champion when he faces WBO 105-pound titleholder Moises Fuentes on March 3 at the Auditorio Fausto Gutierrez Moreno in Tijuana, Mexico. The bout has been confirmed by Fuentes’ promoter Zanfer Promotions, as well as Landero’s manager Rommel Nazario and the WBO.

The 25-year-old Landero (15-5-4, 5 knockouts) of Paranaque City, Philippines is a sizable underdog to the 26-year-old champion Fuentes (14-1, 6 KOs) of Mexico City, who is approaching this as a tuneup for his April 28 clash with former champion Ivan Calderon in Puerto Rico.

Nazario sees it otherwise.

“Maybe its a tuneup for him but I don’t think so because Landero is a good fighter,” said Nazario, who is the son of the late Rod Nazario, former business manager of Manny Pacquiao. “(Landero) is a former OPBF and Filipino champion, so he doesn’t fight to lose.”

Nazario says that despite getting the call just two weeks ago to fly to Mexico for the fight, Landero has been in training since January 10 and began sparring three weeks ago, a week prior to receiving the call. One of his sparring partners has been Denver Cuello, THE RING’s no. 7 strawweight contender who holds a 2008 unanimous decision victory over Landero. Nazario says that they will leave on February 27 to Mexico.

Fuentes, who is rated no. 3 by THE RING, will be making the first defense of the title he won with a split-decision victory over Raul Garcia in August. The 5’8″ Fuentes, who is managed by future Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera, owns a six-inch height advantage over Landero, who hasn’t fought since losing a unanimous decision to Hekkie Budler in South Africa this past September.

“We just saw his fights on Youtube, and in my opinion, he’s just standing right in front of you,” said Nazario. “Landero wants to stand toe-to-toe so maybe he’ll have a chance with Fuentes. We see that Fuentes does not run, and Landero’s style is like that, too.”

WBO President Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel said that Fuentes’ bouts with Landero and Calderon are voluntary defenses. Should Fuentes defeat Landero and Calderon, he would have 90 days to face mandatory challenger Carlos Buitrago (22-0, 14 KOs) of Nicaragua.

Landero is one of a slew of Filipinos preparing for world title opportunities abroad in the coming months, including Sonny Boy Jaro, who faces WBC flyweight champ Pongsaklek Wonjongkam in Thailand the same night as Landero’s bout, and former junior flyweight champ Rodel Mayol, who faces WBA flyweight titleholder Hernan Marquez on March 24 in Mexico.

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