By Ronnie Nathanielsz
AJ “Bazooka” Banal blasted highly touted Mbwana Matumla, the “African Golden Boy” with a two-fisted attack from the opening bell and finished him off with a cracking left hook and a right uppercut, sending him crashing to the canvas to be counted out at 2:59 seconds of the second round which reminded fight fans of what Filipino boxing hero Manny Pacquiao did to Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton last May 2 in Las Vegas.
The round and the time were identical and the win almost as devastating as Pacquiao's spectacular KO of Hatton where a vicious left hook effectively seperated Hatton fron his senses. Banal's KO was not as brutal but came close enough in terms of the efficiency of execution.
Banal who disappointed his numerous fans when he suffered a stunning 10th round knockout in a WBA Interim title fight to Rafael “El Torito” Concepcion last July 26, 2008 jumped to their feet and roared as Banal erased the memory of that loss with a dominating performance that clearly restored their faith in the 20 year old southpaw.
Banal realized that a big win against the former IBO super flyweight champion would mean a place on the Floyd Mayweather Jr – Juan Manuel Marquez fight card on July 18. He started aggressively with solid body shots and then rocked Matumla with a one-two combination near the end of round one.
Matumla who is also a southpaw was biding his time trying to figure out Banal and caught him with a good right before Banal exploded with a thundering left hook that distorted the face of Matumla who hit his head on the canvas as he fell and tried desperately to beat the count but couldn’t and sat in his corner not knowing what him.
The round and time of the knockout was identical with Pacquiao’s brutal demolition of Hatton and although this was not a world title fight in Las Vegas it did indicate that there is another promising young Filipino on the horizon capable of winning a world title at some future date. Fighting on the Mayweather-Marquez card would be one crucial step in that direction.
With the win Banal’s record now stands at 19-1-1 with 16 knockouts while Matumla drops to 18-4 with 10 knockouts.
In comparison to Banal’s showing, lightweight Czar Amonsot was a major disappointment and even though he earned a ten round decision over Kenya’s super featherweight champion Morris Chule, the fans booed the decision more out of a feeling of letdown than anything else.
Chule’s game-plan appeared to be survival and he kept grabbing and holding whenever Amonsot connected especially when he had him in trouble in the last three rounds as he tried in vain to score a knockout. Referee Tony Pesons contributed to the boring encounter by failing miserably to deduct any points from Chule for constant holding that turned the fight into a wrestling match.
Salven Lagumbay scored the fight for the Filipino southpaw 96-94, Edward Ligas 97-93 and Noel Flores 97-93 but many of those at ringside including the ABS-CBN television panel felt Chule had done enough to win. This was reinforced when the crowd booed the decision and applauded Chule who danced in the middle of the ring at the end of the fight just as he did to the beat of the music as he entered.
Amonsot’s record now stands at 20-3-1- with 11 KO’s while Chule fell to 11-7-2 with 8 KO’s.
Promising lightweight Jason Pagara showed he had a great future when he scored a sensational third round knockout over Indonesia’s welterweight champion Hero Katili in a scheduled ten round bout.
Pagara set the tone of the fight with a couple of good combinations in the opening round before he dropped the taller Katili with a solid left-right combination that surprised the Indonesian after Katili had connected with a telling uppercut that rocked the head of the 17 year old Filipino back.
Katili was warned for holding behind the head and hitting and was penalized a point for the continuous infraction. All of a sudden Pagara flicked three successive left jabs into the face of Katili and as he backed him into the ropes nailed him with a thundering right to the jaw that sent the Indonesia down on the seat of his pants not knowing where he was.
Former Australian champion Jeff “Flash” Malcolm who was working the corner of Katili climbed onto the ring apron in the downed fighter’s corner but even before he could catch the attention of the referee by waving a towel asking that the fight be stopped, Katili was counted out at 2:15 of the third round.
With the win Pagara, the Philippine lightweight champion who looked sharp and poised improved to 18-1 with 10 knockouts while Katili dropped to 20-7-1 with 9 knockouts.