Mark Sangiao is in Pattaya. The Team Lakay commander has accompanied his troops to the seaside resort where they are all training at the Fairtex Gym.
The five fighters are not just in Thailand to sharpen their striking skills and perhaps pick up some Muay Thai tips. Sangiao sees it as a team building exercise that will strengthen the bond between the four men:
“This scene today will hopefully remind them in the future that they are brothers, bonded in the truest sense.”
The bond between Team Lakay’s fighters has been tested like never before this year, and in some cases broken. The likes of Eduard Folayang, Kevin Belingon and Joshua Pacio have all left the gym where they had trained for their entire careers.
Sangiao also came in for some criticism for his strategy and corner work during Stephen Loman’s recent loss to John Lineker. A journalist in the Philippines called out the Team Lakay coach and questioned the advice he gave going into the final round.
But despite an environment that has at times become hostile the team continues to produce new stars. The latest is Carlos Alvarez who has won three fights out of three at Lumpinee Stadium this year.
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Alvarez is one of the five Team Lakay representatives training at the Fairtex Gym. Alongside him are current ONE Championship stars Jhanlo Sangiao and Stephen Loman as well as Carlo von Bumina-ang and Jean Saclag.
Sangiao and Loman are coming off losses. Both men suffered setbacks which derailed their title ambitions but remain among the top fighters in ONE Championship’s bantamweight division.
Loman is currently ranked #2 at bantamweight while Sangiao must be somewhere in the top ten after winning three fights out of four for the promotion.
Sangiao is just 21 so the recent setback is unlikely to prove terminal to his long term ambitions. Alvarez is three years older meaning that both men should still have their best years ahead of them.
Some of the Team Lakay old guard might have departed. But the bond is clearly strong between the fighters who remain and Mark Sangiao believes that this trip to Thailand will strengthen it.