By Rene Bonsubre, Jr. - PhilBoxing.com
There have been recent articles stating that Ben Villaflor is the youngest Filipino to win a world boxing title. I got a bit curious because I remember reading from my collection of old boxing magazines that Morris East was also a teenage world champion.
So, I decided to look it up in boxrec.com. Ben Villaflor was born November 10, 1952 in Negros Occidental and won the capturing the WBA junior lightweight title on April 25, 1972, at 19 years and five months when he beat Venezuelan Alfredo Marcano by 15 round unanimous decision in Hawaii.
Morris East born August 8, 1973 in Olongapo City, Zambales was 19 years and one month old when he won the title on September 9, 1992. He beat Akinobu Hiranaka of Japan for the WBA jr. welterweight title in Tokyo. His 11th round knockout victory was chosen as Ring Magazine's KO of the year for 1992.
East is the second youngest boxer to win a world title at 140 lbs. Puerto Rico's Wilfred Benitez won the WBC jr. welterweight title when he was 17 years old.
This would make East our youngest ever world boxing champion. The reason that this question is raised is that Marvin Sonsona will be 19 years and 5 weeks old when he fights Puerto Rico’s Jose Lopez for the WBO superflyweight world title this September 4.
I actually had a very interesting conversation with promoter Sammy Gello-ani regarding these facts since he handled East as a prizefighter. East actually relocated to Cebu City and was just roaming around Colon Street. He was spotted by Lito Cortes and brought to the Cebu Coliseum gym and Gello-ani offered him amateur fights to keep him earning for his meals. Gello-ani now promotes Sonsona who even if he beats Lopez would not beat East’s record.
Manny Pacquiao was also 19 but was thirteen days away from turning 20 when he won the first of his six world titles via an eighth round knockout over Chatchai Sasakul for the WBC flyweight crown in Thailand in December 1998.
Malcolm Tunacao of Mandaue City, Cebu holds the Philippine record for the shortest route taken towards a world title. He only had ten pro fights when he took the WBC flyweight crown from Medgoen (3K - Battery) Lukchaopormasek of Thailand via 7th round knockout in May 19, 2000. Malcolm was 21 years old during his brief title reign.
Top photo: East when he won the WBA junior welterweight title against Akinobu Hiranaka of Japan.
Editor's Note: PhilBoxing.com has contacted Morris East in Las Vegas where he is now based, and East has confirmed the veracity of his birth data at boxrec.com. East said he is aware that he is the Philippines' youngest world champion and felt 'amused' that Filipino boxing writers have seemingly 'forgotten' him.