Quijano: Analyzing Banal’s debacle-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
MY sojourn to Manila ended on a disappointing note with Alex John Banal blowing his much-coveted world-title opportunity, but the event itself (Pinoy Pride XVII) was a success, with thousands of vociferous fans in attendance at the cavernous Mall of Asia Arena.
THE FIGHT. I was seated next to a good friend, Maj. Alvin Infante (PAF), who was watching a boxing event live for the first time.
Banal started out strong and fast, and his speed advantage immediately became apparent with his straight left, which found its mark early and often.
But Pongluang Sor Singyu was undeterred, adapting a half-crouch position with his long arms covering his jaw and torso as he moved forward trying to trap Banal.
He would land an occasional hook or a right hand, but Banal was clearly winning the early rounds.
I started squirming and fidgeting in my seat in the fourth as several right hands found the mark and seemed to stun AJ. The fifth was close, and both fighters had their moments.
Then it began.
Around the sixth round, Pongluang with his face swelling from the hard leather he absorbed, made his move. He became more aggressive and goaded AJ into several exchanges. Banal still landed eye-catching shots, but I sensed he was becoming weaker.
I had a hard time watching the 8th round. I took nature’s call and strangely found myself uncharacteristically in no hurry to get back to my seat.
In the ninth round, after a brutal barrage knocked down AJ, and the ref halted the action, an eerie deathly silence blanketed the MOA, broken only intermittently by howls of victory from the visiting warrior’s corner.
I didn’t stay for the interviews. I couldn’t find the heart to watch a sobbing Banal cry his heart out for the world to see.
I made the trip to Manila hoping to be part of history in crowning a new world champion in the first ever boxing event at the swanky Mall of Asia Arena.
Instead, I only felt that old familiar stab of disappointment every time a Pinoy pug loses a world title bid.
In a previous column, I identified two factors that would determine Banal’s fate in this championship bout: stamina and punch resistance. Sadly, he fell short again, most especially on the latter.
STAMINA. To my mind, AJ appeared too giddy and overexcited and burnt himself out early. Not exactly the most ideal scenario when you are a fighter already beset with stamina issues.
The pace in the first three rounds was typical of Banal, but his corner should have advised him to ease up on the throttle and instead box his opponent to conserve energy afterwards.
His defense was spotty and he got tagged with shots that could have been avoided.
I’ve always been partial to defensive savvy fighters, and that being said, I am not a fan of Banal’s tactic of ducking, dipping and weaving aggressively to avoid punches.
For one, all that bobbing requires a lot of energy. Secondly, the potential for error is too great. A lucky shot can find its mark and do irreparable damage.
The better option is to tie up your opponent when he is within punching range. No accidents, no errors.
It’s aesthetically boring but effective. Unpalatable, but legal.
Go ask Floyd Mayweather Jr. about it. Last time I checked, he was still undefeated.
PUNCH RESISTANCE. When Banal lost to Rafael Concepcion in 2008, he was well ahead on the scorecards and had inflicted a lot of damage. We were dumbfounded when Banal lost steam and succumbed to what appeared to be innocuous body blows and was knocked out in the 10th.
Sor Singyu did his homework and was able to effectively carry out their game-plan, most probably with the Concepcion fight as.
He moved forward and attacked but he seemed to bide his time and waited for AJ to tire out. He also punched with precision and didn’t mind getting tagged by “Bazooka’s” bombs as long as he got his licks in.
It was an action-packed fight, but apparently, it was a war of attrition that Banal would not survive.
Seated at ringside, I would not say Banal was outgunned. In fact early on, he was giving more than he was taking. But as the Thai grew stronger, he wilted and faltered. Banal was outlasted, simple as that.
But how do you explain that pathological weakness? Boxing fought at the highest level requires physical tools that allow you to take the hardest punches your opponent can dish out. Could he be a shot fighter at the tender age of 23?
(to be concluded on Sunday)
LAST ROUNDS. Are on Thelma Plaza-Tiu who celebrates her birthday today and on newlyweds Jojo and Irene Abella. Cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2012.