Quijano: A lot at stake in AJ Banal’s title fight

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By Jingo Quijano

Last Round

Sunday, September 30, 2012


AS Oct. 20 nears, the buzz surrounding AJ Banal’s world championship challenge against Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu continues to percolate.

This early, several friends are making the trip all the way to the Mall of Asia Arena just to watch this historic battle for the WBO Bantamweight crown.

ALA Promotions’ Michael Aldeguer posits that this fight could very well change the landscape of local boxing and I agree.

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For one, the chosen venue for a world championship bout beamed all over the planet is new and contemporary.
Then there’s the not-so-small matter of a Cebu-based fighter carrying the collective weight of the nation’s pride on his shoulders.

Of course, the potential for AJ Banal to become the next boxing superstar is unlimited should he finally deliver and become the country’s next world champion.

As I look back on Banal’s failed attempt at a world crown in 2008 against Rafael Concepcion, two things came to mind: stamina and punch resistance.

A young inexperienced “Bazooka” sorely lacked those two qualities when he succumbed to the searing, unrelenting pressure exerted by “El Torito.”

In a fight he was winning handily, Banal wilted and faded badly. The young kid has promised that he has corrected and addressed those issues.

We shall definitely find out come Oct. 20.

UFC 152. It was surreal watching Vitor Belfort almost pull off a submission win against the formidable Jon Bones Jones in the very first round at UFC 152.

Belfort succeeded on clamping on an arm-bar on Jones, but the champ powered his way out of it and proceeded to bloody Belfort’s face with a sickening buffet of elbow strikes.

I knew it would end badly for Belfort against Jones, and I almost winced as Jones locked in an americana in the fourth, pinning Belfort’s arms and raining down those bulbous elbows.

I have nothing against Belfort who after all, is still a top competitor despite his advanced fighting age (35), but I thought he had no business fighting Jon Jones for the light heavyweight crown.

I’m a big Belfort fan and his seminal rise to MMA fame via his fiery and ferocious starts in the very first round are the stuff of legend.

I still get goose-bumps seeing replays of him eviscerating Tank Abbott in 52 seconds and Wanderlei Silva in 44 seconds. But sadly, those fights happened in 1997 and 98 and Belfort just isn’t the same explosive fighter that captured our imagination 15 years ago!

Of course, we all know that Jones-Belfort came about because Jones plainly refused to fight Chael Sonnen, which was arguably a more compelling matchup.

With how Jones has cleaned up the light heavyweight division, a lot more fighters need to be developed by the UFC and marketed as decent competition.

But the way things are wired, there seems to be a gridlock at the top with the peripheral development of a stable of fighters coming on quite slow.

The advantage that the UFC has over boxing is the relative ease with which it can deliver a fan-friendly matchup between top draws because fighters are locked in and bound to a UFC contract.

But the fly in the ointment it seems is that it needs to sign up more fighters or at the very least spend more effort in developing a stable of marketable commodities, unlike in boxing where rival promoters develop their own stable of fighters and meet at some point to discuss potential “super-fights.”

VERBATIM. “I can do it, and close the series of fights with Pacquiao with a perfect finale....a series that is already a classic in boxing. ... In my career, five times I got up from the canvas to show that I am the best. – Juan Manuel Marquez (www.badlefthook.com)

LAST ROUND. It’s on Dawn Bolongan-Tero who recently celebrated her birthday. Cheers!

(jingo_quijano@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 30, 2012.

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