February 9, 2023

Former World Boxing Council Asian-Pacific bantamweight champion Rex Wa-o is not hanging up his gloves just yet.

The 30-year-old Wa-o said he is still confident to go toe-to-toe against younger fighters even as he spent most of his time as a trainer in the country and abroad the past three years.

“Na-miss ko na rin ang actual boxing. I can still fight,” Wa-o told reporters.

The last time Wa-o saw action was in November 2016 where he lost via technical knockout in the fifth round against Jeopardy’s Santisima. Since then, he shifted to training younger boxers.

He was hired as a boxing trainer in China for a year and also travelled in some countries to train boxers before he opted to go home in La Trinidad, Benguet.

He was supposed to travel to Europe earlier this year but the Covid-19 pandemic stalled the plan, prompting Wa-o to settle in La Trinidad and train aspiring boxers.

The Tadian, Mountain Province native has captured the vacant Philippine Luzon Professional Boxing Association super bantamweight belt with a TKO of Dino Lelis in March 2013.

Two months later, he clinched the interim World Boxing Council-Asian Boxing Council super bantamweight belt with a KO win against Danilo Gabisay before his hometown crowd in La Trinidad, Benguet.

He likewise captured the vacant WBC international bantamweight belt with a TKO win against Virden Rivera in Mandaluyong in May 2014. He failed to defend the belt when he lost via unanimous decision to Xian Qian Wei in China in November 2015.

He fought for the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation bantamweight belt but he was knocked out by Takahiro Yamamoto in Japan in July 2016.

Wa-o, together with more than 30 other boxers from Baguio and Benguet, recently received food packs as assistance from Thai philanthropist and boxing patron Naris Singwancha.

They were the second batch of Singwancha’s beneficiaries, all professional boxers, who could not make a living due to the Covid-19 pandemic. – Harley F. Palangchao