Suarez lands a right hand on Paul Fleming. Photo by Philippine Army
Entering the twelfth and final rounds this past Wednesday, Charly Suarez figured his aggression and power punching had built a solid lead for him against local fighter Paul Fleming in Sydney, Australia.
He had no way to know that he needed a knockout to win, and would be returning home to the Philippines as the loser if he didn’t finish his opponent. It was only afterwards, when he stopped the previously unbeaten Fleming with a minute left in the bout, that he found out what the scores were.
“Even if they cheat on me, they can’t cheat me. That’s what the TKO [prevented],” said Suarez (15-0, 9 knockouts) of San Isidro in Davao del Norte province in the Philippines.
The 34-year-old stamped himself as a legitimate contender in the 130-pound division, just four years after turning professional following a career as one of the Philippines’ most decorated amateurs ever.
The 2016 Olympian entered the fight rated no. 8 by the IBF at junior lightweight, but is sure to enter the rankings for a few other sanctioning bodies after picking up a few minor belts. He says he has no preference for which of the four major world titles he fights for, as long as he gets a shot soon.
“I’m always ready and hungry for a title shot,” said Suarez, who is enlisted in the Philippine Army with the rank of Private First Class. “No specific name, but anyone.”
The WBC title is currently held by O’Shaquie Foster, while Hector Garcia holds the WBA title, Shavkat Rakhimov holds the IBF belt, and Emanuel Navarrete holds the WBO belt.
What he is in the market for is a major promoter who can help facilitate those opportunities. Suarez, who is managed and trained by another former Olympian, Delfin Boholst, is a promotional free agent, though he credits Robert Hill of VSP Promotions with helping arrange some of the opportunities with which he built his pro resume’.
“Whoever gives us a good offer, let’s take it,” said Suarez. “We’re looking for the one who will take care of me, and we are excited for that time.”
Suarez says he will take two weeks off to recover from the bout with Fleming before resuming his training at his base in Manila.
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].