Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |


John Moralde to fight for first time since Braydon Smith tragedy

John Vincent Moralde (R) facing Braydon Smith on March 14, 2015. (Team Moralde)

John Vincent Moralde (R) facing Braydon Smith on March 14, 2015. (Team Moralde)

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino featherweight prospect John Vincent Moralde will make his ring return against Evgeny Smirnov on June 19 in Sedavi, Spain, three months after tragedy linked him forever with his opponent in Australia.

In his most recent bout, the 21-year-old Moralde won a wide decision over Braydon Smith on March 14. Less than two hours later, Smith collapsed and fell into a coma, dying two days after.

“I always think that another tragedy happening is impossible. I’m trying to think positive,” Moralde tells of how he deals with what occurred that night in Toowoomba.

“It was terrible but I kept praying and going to church. As time goes on I’ve made peace with the tragedy.”

Moralde (12-0, 6 knockouts) has been training with coach Renie Gabawa for the fight at the Sanman Boxing Gym in General Santos City, Philippines, which is owned by his promoter, Jim Claude Manangquil.

Moralde says he has seen clips of the 21-year-old Russian Smirnov (7-0, 2 KOs), who took a big step up in his one-year pro career by winning a 10-round split decision over Noe Martinez Raygoza in April.

Moralde describes Smirnov’s fighting approach as “amateur style” but remains modest in his prediction. “I’m not sure [I’ll win] but I’ll try my best.” Manangquil didn’t offer much higher praise, saying Smirnov is “a good fighter but average. Nothing special.”

Manangquil, who also handles RING no. 6-rated junior flyweight Randy Petalcorin, says he is encouraged by Moralde’s aggressive showings in sparring but can’t know for sure whether the tragedy has affected his willingness to inflict damage until he steps in the ring once again.

“I always know that Moralde has a calm and strong mind,” says Manangquil. “He knows what he’s doing and thinking. He doesn’t get intimidated. He knows how to adjust and adapt.”

Moralde is in the National Capital Region of Manila to secure his visa for Spain but will return to GenSan on Wednesday afternoon. Manangquil says they will arrive in Spain on June 16, just three days before the fight.

“It is what it is. Moralde’s mindset is that he always thinks of winning. He’s not bothered by anyone or anything. But I think he can win this fight,” says Manangquil.

Read: Brayd Smith and John Moralde: Forever linked by tragedy