BANAL, CONCEPCION BATTLE FOR WBA CROWN TODAY
By Salven L. Lagumbay
Sat, 26 Jul 2008
CEBU CITY--Unbeaten Filipino AJ 'Bazooka' Banal and Panama's Rafael "El Torito" Concepcion will do battle for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) superfly interim championship today at the 10,000-capacity New Cebu Coliseum here.
The event, sanctioned by the WBA president Gilberto Mendoza, is presented by ALA Promotions, ABS-CBN, Golden Boy Promotions and the Cebu City government.
Banal came in at a perfect 115 lbs during official weigh-in held yesterday at the SM City Cebu, while Concepcion had to frantically shake off a pound before making the official weight.
The event has the boxing community abuzzed, noting that if Banal wins the crown, he will become the third youngest Filipino to win a world title, edging out superstar Manny Pacquiao who will scale down to fourth.
If Concepcion wins the title, he will become only the third Panamanian to win the WBA crown in the Philippines, next only to Alfonso Lopez and Hilario Zapata.
Lopez and Zapata have come to the Philippines to beat Filipino fighters in a WBA-sanctioned event. Lopez TKO'd Erbito Salavarria in the 15th round to claim the WBA flyweight crown in 1976. Ten years later, Zapata decisioned Dodie Boy Penalosa to claim the same WBA flyweight belt at the University of Life Stadium in Manila.
However, Dodie Penalosa, who attended yesterday's weigh-in to show support to Banal, said that his fight against Zapata and the Banal-Concepcion fight will be a very different fight scenario.
"When I fought Zapata, that was the first time that I fought as a flyweight. And that was the first time that I fought an opponent who ran a lot, ducked too low, and clinched too strong," said Penalosa in an exclusive interview at the weigh-in.
Penalosa sees a definitive victory by Banal, noting that style differences will showcase the best of the young Cebuano fighter.
"This fight will showcase the best of AJ Banal, because he is fighting a bullstrong opponent, who is not known to use the ring. Banal's counter-punching, and ability to move, will win the fight for him," Penalosa predicts.
Meanwhile, Japan's top boxing promoter Akihiko Honda yesterday congratulated both Banal and Concepcion for their WBA interim championship showdown.
In a long-distance call to international matchmaker Sampson Lewkowicz, Honda congratulated the two fighters and wished them the best of luck.
Honda will promote the WBA superfly regular championship between Nobuo Nashiro and Kohei Kono in September, with the winners of today's fight and the September tussle expected to meet not later than December 15.
In the undercard, Milan Melindo stepped in at 108 lbs on the first try but Panamanian Carlos Melo was 3/4 pound overweight on the first try, 1/4 pound over on the second try but finally got the required weight of 108 lbs on the third try an hour after. Melindo and Melo will duke it out for the WBA Intercontinental Light Flyweight title.
Michael Domingo and Indonesian Rivo Ringkung who will fight for the WBO Oriental Bantamweight title, made weight on the first try. Domingo came in at 117 1/2 lbs while Ringkung came in at 116 1/4 lbs.
The other match-ups and their weights: James Bacon - 127 1/2 lbs. vs Skak Max 126 1/2 lbs; Jun Intor - 119 lbs. vs Roldan Malinao 120 1/4 lbs; Robert Allanic - 125 lbs (second try) vs Leonardo Doronio - 124 lbs; Hilario Canillas - 122 1/2 lbs vs Ramil Cabalan - 120 lbs.
Top photo: AJ 'Bazooka' Banal of the Philippines (R) and Rafael 'El Torito' Concepcion of Panama face off after yesterday's weighin at the SM City-Cebu.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Salven L. Lagumbay.
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