Thursday, September 4, 2014

Joe Francisco: More Than a Former Boxer

It’s Throwback Thursday! My office mate Jasper Francisco took the above uploaded “throwback” picture of his father and it reminded me of an equally “throwback” blog entry that I have posted some years back that can be accessed if you click THIS LINK.

To retell, the Joe Francisco-Chito Adigue fight in May 16, 1981 shattered our high hopes of seeing our local boxing hero then on top of world championship ring. In Francisco’s home court he was caught by Adigue’s left hook that landed on his jaw on the 6th round of the bout. Chito Adigue is a nephew of the legendary Pedro Adigue, the former World Boxing Council (WBC) Light Welterweight Champion in the late 60s’ and he was at Chito’s corner that moment. Joe Francisco, the pride of Brgy. Batasan in San Jose knelt  on the canvass the night he lost and the people of Occidental Mindoro wept for him.

In his early years in boxing, Diomedes “Joe” Francisco was molded and turned into a human wrecking ball by the former world champion Erbito Salavarria after the great but once controversial Filipino puncher saw Joe’s potential when Joe was still an amateur. After only 2 impressive amateur wins, Salavarria decided to “level up” his protégée to the professional level for the featherweight division. That was 1977 and he’s the Philippines’ newest ring sensation. Boxing analysts in Joe’s golden years considered him as a thinking boxer because of the way he analyzes his opponent before delivering his own killer punches. Until that heartbreaking loss from the hands, err, fist of Adigue. His second lost was in a match held at Araneta Coliseum via split decision to Gener Cruz in October 5, 1980, but in their rematch, Francisco won by points over Cruz in March 1, 1981.

But life has to continue. He married his most loyal (all pun intended) fan, the former Loyalyn “Bing Bing” Hilario of Brgy. Pag-Asa, San Jose. Bing Bing, by the way, just celebrated her 50th (golden!) birthday only last week. Joe and Bing Bing’s 4 children are all boys.

Seriously, here’s Joe Francisco’s record after his retirement in 1981: a total of 26 fights; 23 wins; 1 draw; 2 losses. Francisco was the #1 Philippine Junior Featherweight contender and #3 in the OPBF or the Orient Pacific Boxing Federation that time.  Three 3 years after that gruesome lost, Joe successfully won by way of unanimous decision in his two comeback fights but have decided to finally hang his gloves. He now has a growing family to attend to and new career path to thread.

From fistfights, Joe finally ended in public safety sector, specifically firefighting now known as SFO2 Diomedes L. Francisco of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Only last June 28, he headed the Volunteer Fire Brigade of Sablayan which won the Provincial Fire Olympics and will be representing our province in the upcoming regional competition this September.

Way back in November 10, 1982, a year after his retirement from boxing, Bing Bing gave birth to their first born Drian (nicknamed Jhong) in Brgy, Pag-Asa, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Joe raised Drian Francisco (25-2-1) in Sablayan to be a boxer like him. Drian had been boxing for about 142 rounds now with 71.43 knock out percentage in his 28 professional fights. In Drian’s early professional bouts held here in the Philippines, Bing Bing took care of her son’s diet while Joe give pre-fight pointers and acted as physical conditioning coach in the training camp. But Sweet Science runs deep in Joe’s veins that even after he decided to quit the pugilists’ world, he teaches free boxing lessons to kids, act as referee or promoter of boxing matches in our province. He is also into street basketball as his pastime and he’s in excellent shape until now that he’s already in his mid- 50s.

Let us go back to Drian, the son, just this August he returned to the ring after one year layoff KO’ing in the 3rd round Colombian Manuel de los Reyes Herrera at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in California. A big fight for Drian, after series of fine tuning in the US, is expected to be coming up soon like what his manager Justine Fortune have announced.

And there’s another boxer in Joe Francisco’s family in a son named Lloyd. Lloyd’s first fight as a professional was in September 29, 2007 defeating Jose Ocampo at Ynares Plaza in Binangonan, Rizal. His last fight was held two years ago winning by TKO at the expense of Roger Galicia in Lipa City. Being sidelined for almost 2 years, certainly he could still comeback. In his 12 professional fights, Lloyd record is as follows: 10 wins (6 by KO) and lost twice via KO. The last time I heard he is applying for a slot also at the BFP. I am unaware if it is still Lloyd’s dream to box overseas say for instance at the Madison Square Garden in a city called “The Big Apple”.  

Only the Francisco twins, Jasper and Jarred, are not into boxing but Jarred aspires to be like his father the other way around which is to be with the public safety sector someday as a policeman. On the other hand, Jasper is aiming into something else that he cannot figure out until now. He was once a Sepak Takraw star player in college until he got a knee injury and stopped. When asked if he also willing to box or to deal with fire someday, Jasper jokingly told me that he prefers to be a porn star!

With all certainty, the Francisco siblings absorbed not only their father’s boxing ability and public safety skills but more importantly, they must learn parenting lessons from Joe Francisco,- the former fist fighter, the present chief fire fighter of our pristine town and forever father to his sons…

(Photo : Jasper Francisco)

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