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List of Articles by Ed de la Vega, DDS


 

Banal’s first day at the Wildcard Gym

By Ed de la Vega, DDS
PhilBoxing.com
29 Mar 2007



LOS ANGELES -- AJ “Bazooka” Banal, the young prospect from the famed ALA Gym, today finally achieved one of his dreams: to train at the Wildcard Gym in Hollywood, much like his stable mates Z Gorres and Boom Boom Bautista. Today was his first time at the famed Hollywood Gym.

Banal came to the Wildcard with Boom Boom Bautista and their trainer, Edito Villamor at about 11:15 am after a rigorous run up the Griffith Park at the Hollywood Hills earlier in the morning.

The young Banal showed so much excitement on his first time at the gym. He didn’t seem intimidated by the place but rather awestruck by the presence of the many named fighters that regularly trained there and the hundreds of autographed pictures of “who is who” in boxing taped to the walls of the gym.

As soon as they walked into the gym, I took the honor of introducing him to the three main coaches, Justin, Eric and Macka. Banal, being a first timer at the gym, had his picture taken with the coaches. Right after the photos were taken, Justin, the interim head at the Gym while Roach is in Puerto Rico training Oscar de la Hoya, told him to “get right on to work.”

While he was wrapping his hands in one corner of the gym, I walked up to him to kind of prop him up.

“Don’t be intimidated or shy about doing your job here, I told him. “Just pretend it is just another day at the ALA Gym and you will do very well.”

Banal, together with Boom Boom Bautista, upon the instructions of Villamor, immediately got down to business. The first order after wrapping their hands, was several rounds with the skipping rope to get the cardio-vascular system going. Then came several rounds of shadow boxing inside the ring that Freddie Roach built specially for Manny Pacquiao at the extension room of the Wildcard Gym. Following the shadow boxing, Villamor donned his punch mitts and went several rounds with Bautista. While they were doing that, Banal was hitting the double speed bag. After four rounds of that, the boxers switched places. Bautista went to the double speed bag and Banal had his session with Villamor with the punch mitts.

During the punch mitts sessions, people were not paying attention to Bautista any more. They are used to hear the banging of the mitts when Boom Boom does his thing with Villamor. Boom Boom in order words, is an “old-timer” and everyone is familiar on what he can do.

When Banal’s time came up, some of the trainers and other boxers can’t help but stop and look at the “new kid on the block.” Banal’s initial work out with Villamor with the punch mitts was so intense and the sound of his gloves hitting the mitts was so loud that people simply had to occasionally stop to see who was doing that. Banal’s performance with the punch mitts was indeed a good sign of the better things to come. I can’t hardly wait for May 5th at Las Vegas when Banal will make his debut in the US.

After the punch mitt session, Bautista and Banal continued on with the speed bags, the heavy bags and the strength conditioning sessions.

On Friday, they will start their sparring.

PHOTO GALLERY (All photos by Dr. Ed de la Vega):


AJ Banal (left) and Rey Bautista shadow-box atop the ring at Wildcard Gym in LA.


Bautista (left) and Banal doing the skipping rope routine.


Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista does the punch mitts with trainer Edito Villamor.


Banal (left) poses with Wildcard trainer Macka Foley.


Banal (left) with Justin Fortune.


Banal with Wildcard trainer Eric.


Banal (right) does an intense punch mitt routine with trainer Edito Villamor.


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