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Boom Boom in gutsy win over Medina
By Joaquin Henson
The Philippine Star 05/07/2007

Rey (Boom Boom) Bautista survived a knockdown in the seventh round, a cut over his left eye from a headbutt, referee Robert Byrd’s misguided calls on blows below the belt and a durable foe from the Pampas to pound out a unanimous 12-round decision over Argentina’s previously unbeaten Sergio (Rocky) Medina at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila).

It was by far the toughest fight in Bautista’s career and he passed the acid test with flying colors.

Bautista, 20, started out strong and banged away at Medina’s body but Byrd threw him off with repeated warnings for low blows and a deduction in the fifth round. But the Candijay, Bohol, slugger dropped Medina on his back in the sixth in what seemed more like a slip then was forced to hold on for dear life as he was staggered by a right to the jaw and given an eight-count in the seventh.

Medina, 25, pressed his attack in the eighth, looking to finish off Bautista, but the gutsy Filipino refused to give up. In the 11th, Bautista uncorked a right cross that floored Medina in the middle of the ring. Medina never recovered from the fall and lost steam in the homestretch.

There was no question who deserved the verdict in the end. Judges C. J. Ross and Paul Smith saw it, 115-109, and Dave Moretti, 116-108, all for Bautista. The STAR scored it, 114-110.

ALA stable owner Tony Aldeguer told The STAR from Bautista’s Las Vegas dressing room that heart won it for the Filipino.

"It was all heart," said Aldeguer. "Boom Boom fought with the heart of Manny (Pacquiao). Medina was tough. That’s what HBO wanted – a real test for Boom Boom. Medina is rated No. 6 by The Ring and you know how choosy The Ring is. Argentines are known for their toughness and Medina is no exception."

Bautista protested Byrd’s interference and said the referee forced him to change his strategy.

"I couldn’t sustain my body punching because the referee wouldn’t allow it," said Bautista in Filipino. "I was hitting Medina on the beltline but the referee was calling it foul. What made it more difficult was Medina kept ducking low so I couldn’t hit his body too much."

Bautista called Medina the toughest opponent in his career. He said his face was lumpy from Medina’s punches. A cut on his left eyebrow was the result of a wayward butt.

Bautista said although he never dropped to the canvas, Byrd was correct in calling a knockdown in the seventh.

"I was groggy," said Bautista. "He got me with a straight. It was a good thing the referee called a knockdown because it stopped Medina from attacking and gave me time to recover. But I never lost my head. I knew where he was. I kept looking at him. I tried to counterpunch. Luckily, I survived."

Bautista said when he was hurt and his legs turned rubbery, what kept him going was the thought of his family’s poverty.

"I couldn’t surrender," he said. "I remembered my hardship when I was growing up, the time a bamboo pole was stuck in my head when I was a kid bleeding and walking 30 minutes before reaching home to find someone to remove it. I remembered my poor parents. I couldn’t let them down."

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