Almost 20 years ago, on June 23, 2001, a relatively unknown Manny Pacquiao made his US debut in Las Vegas and shocked the boxing world when he dethroned the highly-regarded South African Lehlo Ledwaba.

Fast forward to 19 June 2021 and another Filipino Michael Dasmarinas will be hoping to follow in his great countryman’s footsteps tonight when he makes his American bow against WBA Super and IBF 118lbs champion Naoya Inoue in boxing’s fight capital.

The odds seem stacked against Dasmarinas, a 10-1 outsider, but he’s been training at the same Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles where the great Pacquiao built himself into a global boxing superstar.

Southpaw Dasmarinas (30-2-1, 2O KOs) has a steep task ahead, but Sean Gibbons, President of Manny Pacquiao Promotions, says the bantamweight challenger has the full support of his legendary compatriot.

“The Senator [Pacquiao] backs all Filipino fighters,” Gibbons told Sky Sports. “He okayed signing Dasmarinas. He tells them all the same thing: ‘work hard, don’t cheat yourself’.

“Dasmarinas has been training at the Wild Card Gym. If you’re in Los Angeles and you’re Filipino, the logical place to go is the Wild Card. He is walking in The Senator’s footsteps.

“Dasmarinas is a humble guy but a warrior in the ring. He has been to Japan to spar with Inoue’s brother [Takuma]. Inoue has knocked out a lot of better fighters than Dasmarinas has, and has done it quicker.

“Dasmarinas is a capable guy but he’s fighting ‘The Monster!’ Inoue can change a fight with one shot. Dasmarinas will, like his [nick]name says, be ‘Hot and Spicy’ – whether it goes one round or 12, there will be punches thrown, there will be bombs.”

Main image: Inoue and Dasmarinas (right) weigh-in. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.