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By Ronnie Nathanielsz

Sat, 20 Oct 2012

It's not just WBO No. 1 ranked southpaw AJ ?Bazooka? Banal who faces a challenge when he battles Thailand?s No. 2 ranked Pungluang Sor Singyu for the vacant WBO bantamweight title at the Mall of Asia Arena this evening ? it?s the Filipino fans as well.

Over the past few years in various internet boxing forums, fight fans have questioned the failure of local promoters and television networks to stage world title fights in the Philippines, claiming that our fighters are forced to face odds stacked up against them when they fight abroad in countries such as Mexico, Thailand and South Africa in search of various world and international titles.

Now, the famed ALA Promotions and the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN have accepted the challenge by working closely together on ?Pinoy Pride XVII? in which Banal faces off with Pungluang for the 118 pound title left vacant by Mexican warrior Jorge Arce.

Not only that, they have put together two other WBO International title fights featuring junior welterweight champion Jason Pagara against undefeated Miguel ?Hands of Stone? Antoine from Barbados and WBO International featherweight champion Rey ?Boom Boom? Bautista against tough Mexican Daniel Ruiz.

To spice up the card even further, ALA Promotions matched former WBO Oriental bantamweight champion Michael Domingo against Uganda?s Mudde Ntambe Rabison and Marlon Tapales vs Indonedsia?s Rasmudin.

Also on the card will be the grandson of the late, great Gabriel ?Flash? Elorde ? Juan Martin Elorde who takes on Gerry Sismundo.

None other than WBO president Francisco ?Paco? Valcarcel told us that the ALA Promotions father and son tandem of respected boxing patron Tony Aldeguer and his youthful son Michael Aldeguer have spent a small fortune to stage the international fight card aptly dubbed ?Philippines vs The World? for a handsome trophy.

We recall that in a previous encounter in the series put up by Golden Boy Promotions, the Philippines stunned Mexico 5-1 at the Arco Arena in Sacramento, California.

We are well aware that when the tough negotiations between ALA Promotions and the huge Thai outfit OneSingchai Promotions were going back and forth with the Thai?s hell-bent on staging the fight in Thailand because they had the major sponsors and the TV network, they reportedly offered Banal a purse of $100,000.

We are privy to the testy negotiations as quite often OneSingchai Promotions top officials corresponded with us, sometimes even posing questions about the ability of ALA Promotions to host a world title fight and the kind of backing it had from a TV network.

But Michael was determined not to let Banal hurt his chances of winning a world title by fighting in Thailand where strange things sometimes happen, so he refused to budge and ultimately pulled it off at great expense.

Given the background it is incumbent, we strongly believe, for Filipino boxing fans to show up in huge numbers to give Banal the moral support he deserves and help reward ALA Promotions and ABS-CBN for their commitment to stage this world title fight at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Valcarcel himself described the fight as ?huge? and made it clear that it would reinforce the Philippines position as one of the leading nations in the international boxing arena and a standout in Asia.

The WBO president himself appealed to Filipino boxing fans to go out and support this venture because it deserves public support as Banal looks to give the Philippines a fifth world title behind Nonito ?The Filipino Flash? Donaire, Brian Viloria, Donnie Nietes and Johnreil Casimero.

The challenge is clear. One is before Banal and the other before Filipino fight fans who often wonder how Mexico stages so many fights every week in different locations.

If you watch the television coverage of the fights you would have noticed the major sponsors, the fiercely competitive network rivalry and most importantly, the thousands of fans who crowd the different venues.

We need to do the same if world class boxing is to continue being staged in such superb venues as the Mall of Asia Arena and the historic Araneta Coliseum, the Mecca of Philippine Sports and Entertainment otherwise our fighters will be at the mercy of foreign promoters and we are sure Filipino fight fans don?t wish to see that happen.

Hopefully, we?ll see you at the fights this evening.

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