Putting hard times behind him, boxer Rey Loreto seeks pot of gold in Thailand


After all the misfortunes that hit him in the past, boxer Rey Loreto has come to a point of no return. 

After a long wait, Loreto gets his wish for a crack at a real world title. On Monday night, he will challenge Thai Thammanoon Niyomtrong in a 12-round bout for the World Boxing Association (WBA) minimumweight title in Chonburi, Thailand.

Life has not been so kind to this proud son of Davao.

He started his pro boxing career on losing note, not once but four straight times. He won a so-called world championship title it proved short-lived as he was not paid off his purse in his first defense. For a while, he lost interest to continue training and in between his lull, he suffered motorcycle accident.

But his manager Brico Santig didn’t give up on him. 

Santig, owner of the famed Highland Boxing Gym in Benguet, found Loreto after suffering yet another four straight losses sometime in 2011. 

Santig put him to train under Joven Jorda, who molded Loreto into a world caliber fighter. Loreto strung up victories one after another until he got a crack at the vacant International Boxing Organization (IBO) lightweight crown in 2014 against South African Nkosinathi Joyi in Monaco.

Loreto won in style—a third round knockout win.

They did the rematch the next year and Loreto made short work of the South African with a one-round knockout to defend the title. The bad news is that Loreto has not been paid the $40,000 purse until now.

Loreto, a truly good son, was to use the money to construct a house for his parents in Davao. His idol Manny Pacquiao gave him some reward and even Thai sportsman Narish Singwangcha contributed to his dream house for his family.

Still, Loreto was almost depressed. He stayed in Mindanao and stopped training for a while and relinquished his IBO title, which is not well recognized by the big boys of boxing.

Santig wouldn’t give up on him. He arranged fights abroad to give Loreto some activity until he reached the WBA no. 1 contender spot and set him up for a world title fight.

His last fight before this title bout was in August last year against another Thai Rungrit Sor Visetkit, winning by third round knockout to improve his record to 23 wins (15 KOs) and 13 losses.

Loreto, is dropping to the minimumweight (105 pounds) and he finds no problem about it where he actually feels bigger and stronger against Thammanoon, a former Muay Thai fighter, who is undefeated in 15 professional boxing bouts.


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