by Ronnie Nathanielsz
After a long wait and a back and forth negotiating struggle, WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight champion AJ “Bazooka” Banal will battle Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu for the WBO 118 pound title relinquished by Mexican warrior Jorge “Travieso”Arce.
The fight will take place on October 20 at the spanking new Mall of Asia Arena and will be telecast by the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN in its highly successful “Pinoy Pride” series over Channel 2. The title fight is a joint promotion of the network and ALA Promotions.
ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer sounded relieved when he told the Manila Standard that the fight had been sanctioned by WBO president Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel after Aldeguer submitted the contracts signed by the big Thai promotional outfit, OneSongchai Promotions .
Aldeguer said that Banal who is ranked No.1 by the WBO was “doing well and had matured a lot” since his stunning 10th round knockout loss to Panama’s Rafael Concepcion in a WBA super flyweight interim title fight at the Cebu Coliseum on July 26, 2008 when the Filipino southpaw was in control of the bout and was leading on the scorecards of all three judges.
Aldeguer said Banal “had waited so long. Now this is it.”
Since his loss to Concepcion, Banal has won eleven straight fights against a variety of tough foreign opponents. He won the WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight title with a 5th round knockout of Japan’s Hayato Kimura on July 17, 2010.
In his last fight in Dumaguete City on July 21, Banal scored a comfortable eight round decision over Indonesian journeyman Ruben Manakane in a fight which served as a tune-up for the title shot.
Aldeguer told us Banal didn’t go for a knockout since he “needed more rounds” in preparation for the title fight and that his trainers wanted “to check on some things they had been working on.”
The No. 2 ranked Pungluang Sor Singyu is 24 years old and has an impressive record of 42-1 with 27 knockouts. He won the WBO Oriental interim title with a 6th round TKO of Filipino Marvin Tampus on August 17, 2011 and defended it successfully three times scoring a 2nd round TKO over Nathan Bolcio, a 7th round technical decision over rugged Danilo Pena and a twelve round unanimous decision over Elmar Francisco.
The Thai had two wins this year scoring a unanimous eight round decision over Rey Migreno on May 4 followed by a 5th round TKO of Ricardo Roa on July 6.
Banal will enjoy a 3 ½ inch height advantage against the solidly built Pungluang who stands 5 1 ½ inches.