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BANAL RICHLY DESERVES 'BAZOOKA' TAG


PhilBoxing.com




In modern weaponry, the "Bazooka" is a portable shoulder-type rocket launcher designed to destroy short-range targets in a land combat.

Interestingly in the boxing world, there is one warrior aptly nicknamed "Bazooka" for his capability of destructing his opponents in short distance. He is AJ Banal of Cebu's fabled ALA Boxing Gym.

Last Sunday, a good number of Cebuano fight fans who packed the grand ballroom of Waterfront-Cebu City Hotel and Casino in Brgy. Lahug witnessed Banal's destructive punching power in his 68-second demolition of Mexican champion Esau Gaona.

With just a few seconds gone by after the opening bell, the pride of Corella, Bohol attacked Gaona with deadly precision, dropping off a right hook-left straight combo to send his foe down on both knees.

Gaona quickly got up and signalled to his cornerman Manuel Montiel, older brother of Z Gorres' conqueror WBO super flyweight champion Fernando Montiel, that he has no mouthpiece, prompting referee Bruce MacTavish to call for an official timeout.

When the bout resumed, Gaona was again at the receiving end of Banal's unforgiving offensive. A jarring right hook to the head flattened Gaona for the second time.

Gaona got up quickly, but Banal didn't waste a single second in going for the kill, sneaking in a powerful left straight to the chin that staggered Gaona against the ropes before crashing onto the canvass for the third time. MacTavish wisely stepped in a waved off the bout at 1:08 of the first round.

"Banal is just too strong and powerful. Look at how many boxers he already knocked out in the first round," said Banal's benefactor and ALA big boss Antonio "Bidoy" L. Aldeguer.

Counting Gaona, the Brgy. Ermita, Cebu City resident has decked four opponents in just one round. The rest were Julius Cabusas and Thai mercenaries Dechapol Bankluaygym and Komrit Lukkuongmuekol.

In his budding two-year pro career, Banal is unscathed in 16 fights with one draw and a dozen victories via stoppage. Apart from his four first-round KO wins, Banal chopped down six others foes within five rounds including Rodel Veronque (TKO5), John Clifford Ranan (TKO3), Thai Bansaeng Sithpraprom (KO2), Jun Pader (TKO4), Indonesian Ali Rochmad
(KO5), and Mexican Jorge Cardenas (TKO3).

At 18 years old though, it is still a long and meandering journey for Banal before he could scale the summit of success.

And Banal's might will further be tested when he battles Mexican juggernaut Jovanny Soto (25-7-1, 20KOs) in the undercard of Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista's (23-1, 17KOs) ring comeback against another dangerous Mexican pug in Jesus Rios (24-3-1, 18KOs) on December 8 - the feast of Immaculate Concepcion - at the Araneta Coliseum.

Top photo: AJ 'Bazooka' Banal (L) decks Esau Gaona for the third and final time in the first round during their fight last Sunday in Cebu. Photo by Dong Secuya.




Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel B. Villaruel.


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