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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Ronnie Magramo

Posted on December 10 2015                                              Bookmark and Share
By: Clive Baum



Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.


From a genuine fighting family, with three brothers (Ric, Melvin and Alvin) who were also professional boxers, and nephew Giemel currently a 14-0 Flyweight prospect, former two-time WBF World Strawweight Champion Ronnie Magramo was born in Mindoro Oriental, Philippines.

His exact date of birth is uncertain, but 1972 was the year he first saw the light of day and became a part of what would later be known, at least locally, as the “Skull and Bones Family”, due to their face-first, no-nonsense, brawling fighting style.

Without much amateur experience, he turned professional at seventeen in 1989 with a victory, but already in his second outing he lost when fellow newcomer Ala Villamor (2-0) beat him on points. Villamor would later go on to be a world-class operator and twice challenge for world titles, so there was no disgrace in the early set-back.

Southpaw Magramo won thirteen of his next fifteen bouts, before a rematch with Villamor was arranged in June of 1992. Now the Filipino Strawweight Champion, and undefeated at 21-0-1, Villamor was a clear favorite to retain his title against the 14-3 Magramo, and he lived up to expectations with an eighth round knockout.

With four losses in eighteen fights, and having failed at national title level, it was not a sure thing that young Ronnie would ever fulfill his dream of becoming a world champion. He was affectionately called “The Toy Bulldog” and admired for his entertaining performances, but early on it was hard to envision him as a world-beater.

But after four consecutive victories, including a decision over the capable Nikki Maca (25-4-3) and a fourth round stoppage of highly ranked former world title-challenger Noel Tunacao (21-1-1), he received a shot at Thailand´s WBA World Champion Chana Porpaoin (28-0) in August of 1993.

However, it was not to be for Magramo, who put up a valiant effort before dropping a unanimous decision in Thailand. One judge had him losing 114-117, while the two other judges had him behind by 111-119 and 109-119, and the accurate difference should probably be found somewhere in between.

Two months later he returned to the ring in what was supposed to be a relatively easy comeback fight. But Magramo unexpectedly lost a ten round decision to journeyman Jaime Aliguin (13-15-3), and his road back to world class level appeared to be in tatters.

With little to lose, Magramo accepted to fight world-ranked and undefeated Japanese contender Hiroki Sakakibara (7-0-1) in December of 1993 in Manilla, and resurrected his career with a stunning second round victory to put himself back in the mix.

1993 was an up-and-down year for Magramo, starting with the triumph over Tunacao, which led to an admirable world title attempt, followed by the disappointing loss to Aliguin, but in the end, by beating Sakakibara, the Toy Bulldog could again dream the impossible dream of a world championship.

A call came in early 1994 to challenge IBF world Strawweight titlist Ratanapol Sor Vorapin (16-2-1) in February, so it was back to Thailand for Magramo. Bringing a rather mediocre 19-6 ledger, he was a heavy underdog against the tough Thai, making his fifth title-defense.

Again Magramo did well in his opponents back-yard, but again it was not enough as he lost on points: 113-115, 111-118, 110-118. Sor Vorapin won nineteen straight IBF world title fights before losing his crown in 1997, so, if nothing else, Magramo had proved that he belonged among the best on the planet.

And he was rewarded less than five months later, when he was invited back to Thailand to face Wanwin Charoen (9-2) for the vacant WBF world title. It would be third-time-lucky for the hard-nosed Filipino, as he took the decision out of the judges hands by stopping Charoen in two rounds.

Finally champion of the world, Magramo stayed busy with a non-title rematch against Jaime Aliguin (14-18-3) the following August, and this time he set the record straight by outboxing his former conqueror and winning a clear unanimous decision.

(In an interesting side-note to the Magramo vs. Aliguin rivalry, Jaime Aliguin went 2-4-1 against the Magramo brothers: 1-1 against Ronnie, 1-2-1 against Ric and 0-1 against middle brother Melvin.)

In his first defense of the WBF World title, Magramo squared off with Indonesian champion Faisol Akbar in Manilla on October 8 1994. His record only listed as 3-1-2 by BoxRec, Akbar, who later went on to also challenge for the IBF world title, almost certainly had many more unregistered wins, and proved to be a tough challenger.

But Magramo fought a smart fight, and went on to win a deserved unanimous decision in front of his fellow countrymen. With all his previous world title fights taking place abroad, it was a big night for the still only 22-year-old, and there would be more to come.

After another non-title win to close out 1994, over Japanese no-hoper Hideo Suzuki (2-7), Magramo went back to what had become his second home, Thailand, in February 1995 and defended his world championship with a split decision over undefeated local man Nungdiaw Sakcharuporn (9-0).

Back in the Philippines, he stopped South Korean upstart Sung-Rok Yuh (1-1) in three rounds the following May, staying sharp for a July title-defense against another undefeated Thai, Fahsang Pongsawang (6-0), this time in Bangkok.

Unfortunately for Magramo, it was not his night. Pongsawang, who due to many Muay Thai fights had much more experience than his six professional boxing bouts suggested, out-hustled him over twelve rounds and was declared the winner by close decision.

But Magramo would soon get his revenge, as a rematch was quickly negotiated with the handlers of the new champion, and promoter Johnny Elorde managed to bring it to the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manilla less than three months later.

With big brother Ric beating former WBC world title-challenger Toto Pongsawang on the undercard (Its unclear if Toto is related to Fahsang), Ronnie made it a perfect night for the Magramo family as he put on a convincing performance to regain the WBF world Strawweight title by tenth round knockout.

The impressive rematch victory would however be the last time Ronnie Magramo won a world title fight. He scored two stay-busy victories in February and July 1996, before losing a rubber-match with Pongsanwang in Thailand by clear decision in September.

Magramo put together a string of seven straight victories in 1997 and 1998, which put him in position to challenge for the WBA Interim World title in January 1999. In Thailand (again!), he lost a close majority technical decision (75-75, 74-76, 73-78) after eight rounds to Songkram Porpaoin (19-1-1), and never fought again.

Ronnie “The Toy Bulldog” Magramo had a fantastic career, and retired at only twenty-seven years of age with a very respectable 35-10 (22) record. He fought eight times in Thailand, winning twice, and five of his overall defeats were in world championship bouts.

And he won the WBF World Strawweight title twice!

  Part 23: Randall Yonker
  Part 22: Holly Holm
  Part 21: Vinnie Curto
  Part 20: Robin Reid
  Part 19: Lionel Butler
  Part 18: Mads Larsen
  Part 17: Ken Sigurani
  Part 16: Orlando Fernandez
  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson
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