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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Wed, 30 Jul 2008

Boxing can sometimes be a cruel sport. But it's not in the ring where fighters often try to beat each other up in order to secure victory. It's outside, where good and decent men who show remarkable care and concern for fighters end up distraught because one of their prized possessions lost a chance ? temporary though it may well be ? of becoming a world champion.

Tony Aldeguer and his son Michael, who has assumed the mantle of the ALA Boxing Gym, are men of remarkable character and class and in that sense we somehow cannot fathom the justice that deprives them of victory and causes them so much grief.

When Z ?The Dream? Gorres was robbed right in his hometown of victory in the WBO super flyweight championship fight with Mexico?s Fernando Montiel we were personally angered by what happened and refuse to concede ever, despite the views of international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, that Gorres lost.

Then came the debacle of Rey ?Boom Boom? Bautista whose youthful exuberance caused him to forget what his trainers, led by Freddie Roach, told him and paid the price by trying to slug it out with Daniel Ponce De Leon.

Last Saturday, we grappled to find the answers to AJ ?Bazooka? Banal?s sudden dehydration and utter exhaustion after dominating Panama?s Rafael ?El Torito? Concepcion in the first four or five rounds when a clear low blow saw him grimace in pain and begin his downhill descent although the low blow could never be blamed as the reason for what happened.

The young man did absorb far too many punches to the side of his body by Concepcion who was adept at hitting and holding. Besides, we must face the harsh reality that Banal?s cornermen had no effective response and were, truth to tell, out-witted by veteran trainer Hector Roca and Pedro Romero. Concepcion, following his trainers' instructions to constantly pressure Banal and pound him to the body paid off handsomely in the end.

The punch that dropped Banal was not a particularly big shot but the Filipino southpaw was so weak and limp he went down easily and ? very wisely ? stayed down for the full count because for him to have gotten up and beaten the count would have been suicide in the condition he was in. By his action Banal clearly lived to fight another day and in the opinion of the great Oscar De La Hoya, he will eventually, along with Bautista, win a world title.

The last thing this fine young man needs at this time is for people to put him down, cast aspersions on his fighting heart and rule him out as a possible future world champion. Any nasty comments would border on the criminal.

But there is a real need to find out, first and foremost from AJ himself, what really happened and then to have him undergo a thorough medical checkup to find out the cause of his rapid dehydration and exhaustion.

All of us without exception need to give Banal a break. Let us not burden this young man with additional grief. He is obviously suffering enough as a result of his shocking loss. As for our esteemed friend Tony Aldeguer and his remarkable son Michael we must share their anguish and if at all possible soften their pain because AJ Banal was not only their fighter, he was ours, every one of us who wanted another world title.

It was not to be this time just as it was with Gorres and Bautista but it doesn?t mean it won?t happen in the future.

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