Twelve Rounds with Concepcion and Roca
22 Jul 2008
NEW YORK -- In this installment of Tit for Tat, we go twelve rounds with famed trainer Hector Roca and his new ward Rafael Concepcion to discuss their upcoming title fight against AJ “Bazooka” Banal. Straight from the storied Gleason’s Gym under the landmark Brooklyn Bridge, here is what Hector and Raphael had to say.
How is your training of Raphael Conception coming along?
Training is coming along very good, as well as with a lot of success.
You have trained many world champions. What boxer that you have trained reminds you of Conception?
Arturo Gatti (the “human highlight reel” and former multi-division world champion) and Concepcion have the same style.
What do you think of AJ Banal?
He is a very good fighter; he is undefeated but we are ready.
What do you think Rafael’s greatest victory is and why?
Rafael’s greatest victory was when he defeated Jean Piero Perez (after getting floored twice himself in the second stanza, Concepcion dug deep and managed to pull off a third round TKO).
What should the world expect on July 26th?
The world is going to experience an explosive fight…and Concepcion is ready to fight!
You have a reputation as a man with a lot to say. Any parting words for AJ Banal or the Philippine audience?
Go and see the fight because it is going to be a great fight!
How's your training coming along here at the famed Gleason's Gym in New York City? Is it different from training in Panama?
The skills Pedro Romero has taught me focused more on techniques and more defense because everybody knows Banal is a very aggressive fighter.
Are you excited to visit the Philippines? Or do you fear a hostile welcome or even unfairness in officiating?
We are not excited. It is but one more job to do. I trust that the judges in the Philippines will be professional and I hope that everything will be fair.
If you had one thing to say to AJ Banal, what would it be?
Be ready because we are coming ready to take the title to Panama.
What is your prediction for this fight? My prediction is a KO.
Tell me one thing about the "Little Bull" that the public doesn’t know.
I am a very nice person and once you get to meet me, you will find out that I am a humble and nice guy.
After the fight, what are your plans both in the ring and out?
After the fight in the ring, I will first celebrate my win over Banal. Second, I will bring the title to my great country Panama. Thank you very much and see you in the Philippines!
* * *
Hector Roca has been around the boxing game for quite some time and has produced many terrific champions. Also from Panama, Hector knew the great Roberto Duran since childhood. He has coached award winning actors ranging from Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Lopez, Michelle Rodrigues, John Leguizamo, and Hilary Swank to champions Iran Barkley, Buddy McGirt, and Michael Olajide. Philboxing thanks him and Raphael “The Little Bull” Concepcion for their kindness and time for conducting this 12 round interview.
The 13th round and final question – whether Concepcion can live up to another great Panamanian, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran - will be answered when the bell rings on July 26th at the Cebu Coliseum.
Note: Philboxing would also like extend a special thanks to Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym for accommodating our requests and welcoming Philboxing to do this interview.
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