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Sluggish Sonsona outpoints Indonesian foe to end long layoff

It wasn't the prettiest of performances but former world champion Marvin Sonsona made a successful return to the ring. After a nearly three-year absence, Sonsona won a unanimous decision over Indonesian Arief Blader in their six-round bout Sunday in Survival Instinct: Matira Matibay at the SM Skydome in Quezon City.

Sonsona (21-1-1, 15 KOs), who was six pounds over the 141-lb. limit and was thus forced to wear 12-ounce gloves, looked like a fighter who has been inactive since June 2015: sluggish and tentative. Still, he was too good for Blader, who entered the fight sporting a mediocre 23-27-2 record. All three judges scored it a shutout at 60-54.

Aside from the long layoff, the 27-year-old Gen. Santos native also showed the effects of having to lose nearly 40 pounds over six weeks, and he admitted he lost his stamina in the second half of the fight.

"It had an effect," Sonsona said in Tagalog afterwards. "After four rounds I was already tired. But I found a way so that he wouldn't take advantage of my fatigue. I boxed a bit and just hit once in a while."

Knowing he was far from peak form, Sonsona didn't press for a quick ending and instead opted to feel his way around the ring, only occasionally tagging Blader with combinations.

"I'm still not 100 percent," he admitted. "I just did what I could because I only trained for a short time and I suddenly fought. But I showed my best even though I had a tough time. My coach Sonny Dollente said to take it easy and not go for a knockout because I might get tired."

Once one of the country's brightest boxing prospects and world champion at super flyweight, Sonsona's lack of discipline stalled his rise to the top. He took a hiatus from the sport after struggling to a majority decision win over Jonathan Arrellano in June 2015 in Carson City as he tried to get his life in order.

He decided to give boxing another shot and joined coach Joven Jimenez's Survival Camp earlier this year. He arrived at 186 pounds and committed himself to shedding the extra weight. Although he missed his target of 141 pounds, Sonsona said he is back on track and has said he has sworn off all his vices.

"Gone," he said of his bad habits. "I'm a new man." He is also now a father to two girls, Mara and Marian, whose names were emblazoned on his fight trunks and who serve as his inspiration.

"I'm so happy. I'd like to thank God and all those who supported me."

Sonsona said he plans to be back in the ring in three months and he hopes to be trimmer.

"I want to fight at 135 or 130 [pounds] because that's where I'm comfortable."