ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES — Mananquil emerges as Phl boxing’s top power broker

JIM Claude Mananquil emerges as one of the country’s premier promoters while managing his family’s tuna business in General Santos City. | photograph courtesy of JC MANANQUIL/FB

When boxing promoter-manager Jim Claude Mananquil is not attending to his stable of fighters, he can be seen just before daybreak minding his family’s tuna export business in General Santos City.

“This is what keeps my boxing promotion going,” said the 29-year-old Mananquil, who started promoting at the tender age of 15.

Of course, Mananquil didn’t have the proper license to put up fights owing to his being a minor and somebody with a license had to pose as the promoter-on-record.

But it was he who assembled all the fighters and took care of the finances, quite a feat for someone whose main weapon for staging a card was his unparalleled love for the fight game.

Instead of celebrating, Mananquil had to endure 16 straight losses as most of his boxers — though solidly built — were all as raw and green as a harvested broccoli.

“We got kids who had muscular bodies thinking that they would do well in the ring. But everyone lost and I was devastated,” recalled Mananquil, who manages two-belt world super-bantamweight Marlon Tapales.

Born and bred in General Santos City, Mananquil fell in love with the fight game at an early age.

“I looked up to, of course, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and Zab Judah,” he said.

Mananquil didn’t just like boxing.

He was so obsessed with the sport that he even wanted to proceed with a professional career after a triumphant debut in 2018.

“But my mom objected and told me to just get involved in boxing as long as I don’t fight.”

Mananquil was already busy promoting even before he turned 20 and in just a few years he was crisscrossing the United States accompanying his boxers signed up to see action under different promoters.

At one time, his boxers set up camp in Miami under a Florida-based Cuban trainer but soon found himself relocating to southern California and Las Vegas with influential American fight guy Sean Gibbons lending a hand.

Just a few months ago, Mananquil had two reigning world champions: Tapales and Melvin Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem’s reign as World Boxing Organization minimumweight titlist was short-lived.

After winning the World Boxing Organization 105-lb title in Tokyo in January, he surrendered the championship in Indio, California, several months later.

Following Jerusalem’s loss, Mananquil is now left with Tapales, who is being groomed to figure in a megabuck matchup with Japanese Naoya “Monster” Inoue sometime in December.

“My responsibility is to give Marlon the very best preparation so he can win this very important fight,” Mananquil said.

The odds are stacked against the southpaw but Mananquil swears nothing is impossible.


‘It’s a tough decision but I really love boxing.’


Whether that multi-million dollar showdown happens or not will be known in the coming days and weeks as both camps are going to hold another round of talks very soon in the hopes of putting a deal in place.

The youngest of three kids, Mananquil admits he is torn between the family business and boxing.

And if somebody’s going to put a gun to his head, Mananquil would not hesitate to make his choice.

“It’s a tough decision but I really love boxing.”

Coming from a well-to-do family, Mananquil went to five schools during college.

Once, he tried studying in America but went home after just a few weeks, saying his heart was not there.

Back in the Philippines, Mananquil enrolled at Ateneo de Davao University, Enderun College and even tried schooling in a small college in General Santos City.

Likewise, he went to school at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig but wound up backing out for the nth time and returned to General Santos City.

He was always on-the-go.

But one thing’s clear, though.

Mananquil insists his first and only love is boxing.

And if that big fight down the road happens in Tokyo before the end of the year, Mananquil says that would end up becoming the highlight of his young career provided his fighter emerges victorious.

But in the meantime, Mananquil will continue to look after the tuna business in the morning to assure that boxing gets the sustenance it badly needs.

Right now, Mananquil is rolling with the punches as the family business and boxing seem to be blending well.

And if things fall into place, there could come a time when Mananquil won’t even have to be forced to sacrifice one but winds up mastering both.

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