Quijano: Last Rounder log-A A +A
Saturday, October 20, 2012
I am writing this piece a few hours before AJ Banal is set to trade leather with Thai Pongluang Sor Singyu for the WBO bantamweight crown at the Mall of Asia Arena.
As my column deadline requires prior submission before the event starts, my take on what transpired will appear on Wednesday’s column.
In the meantime, here’s a log of my brief Manila sojourn:
Friday, Oct. 19. 11 a.m. Checked into the hotel and I was pleasantly reunited with my Cebu media brethren who came earlier and have commandeered the coffee shop, exchanging war stories.
11:30. Spoke briefly with Mr. Antonio L. Aldeguer himself. Upon my persistent prodding, he candidly admits to being a bit nervous, but qualifies that he usually is before a championship event.
11:45. The ALA fighters congregate at the lobby and we are all set to go.
12:05. We arrive at the Mall of Asia and a festive atmosphere is on hand. A miniature ring has been set up and the TV crew is ready. The animated throng is composed of boxing personalities and I get a photo-op with Tony Weeks, the world-renowned referee who will be the third man in the ring.
12:10. Happy to find out that a special booth for the weigh-in is selling tickets at 20 percent discount. It’s a steal and I buy one for a friend at the VIP section.
12:15. The weigh-in begins. All the preliminary fighters make weight. However, Boom-Boom Bautista’s opponent Daniel Ruiz, probably ate too many burritos and came in three pounds over. He promptly leaves, presumably attempting to shed off the excess poundage.
Banal is spot on, but Sor Singyu is a pound over. Fighters are given four hours to try and make the weight again and in the meantime, we wait.
1 p.m. Sor Singyu returns and makes weight. He is then examined by the physician. I saunter over to kibitz and learn his blood pressure is an astonishing 100/70. This, after burning off one pound in less than an hour.
1:15 .m. I get to finally meet Last Rounder Luis Rusiana, a.k.a. Latigo who will be singing AJ Banal’s rap entrance live. Great to see this talented young man getting this big break.
1:20. Ruiz returns and tries again, but is still three pounds over. It’s a bummer. He will be facing sanctions and the fight will be fought with bigger, heavier gloves. Boom-boom seems unconcerned and parades that distinctive scowl.
1:30. Lunch at Reyes BBQ and we unabashedly exhibit appetites that would make James Toney blush.
2:30. Time to reunite with the wifey.
EVENT. A fail-safe metric to use in determining the impact of a boxing event is the awareness of the casual boxing fan and my UP Diliman friends are as casual as casual can get.
Later that evening over several Last Rounds, I was not surprised that some of them are unaware of the Banal fight, for after all, there are a million things going on in this megalopolis.
But the fact that they showed keen interest, and more importantly, knew who AJ Banal is, was quite encouraging.
Saturday, 9 a.m. Woke up with a splitting hangover on account of my decision on to drink a strange concoction known as a blue margarita. My toxin-riddled brain reminds me to stick to beer the next time around, but my gout affliction begs to disagree (sigh).
10. Breakfast with the guys and AJ Banal wanders in with his little daughter in tow. He looks relaxed, composed and has lost the drained, frazzled look he paraded at yesterday’s weigh-in. We wish him luck.
2 p.m. Time to visit the malls that adorn the city.
5. p.m. Having done some much-needed R and R, my spirits feel considerably lighter. Unfortunately, so does my wallet.
COMING HOME. Because I spent several of the most cherished years of my youth attending college here and forging friendships that last a lifetime, every time I arrive in Manila, I don’t feel like I’m visiting.
It’s surreal, but I feel like I’m coming home.
LAST ROUND. It’s on one of my best buddies, Atty. Alan F. Siu, who turns a fit and formidable 40 today. Cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2012.