Banal gets rare world title crack on Oct. 20By Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
AJ “Bazooka” Banal will be eyeing more than the world title when he faces Thai Pungluang Sor Singyu next month.
One of the country’s most promising boxing stars, Banal will try to become the first former Palarong Pambansa champion to capture a world crown when he battles the WBO bantamweight titlist Pungluan on Oct. 20 at Mall of Asia Arena.
The 23-year-old Banal was a gold medalist during the 2002 Palarong Pambansa in Naga City where he topped the 48 kg division representing Region 7.
The Cebu-based slugger, a product of the ALA Boxing promotions, is the underdog against Pungluan (42-1-0, 27 knockouts) in their clash for the title vacated by Mexican legend Jorge Arce, who moved up to the 122-pound division recently only to miss the chance to fight Filipino WBO-IBF champ Nonito Donaire Jr.
“Back then, we were looking at the Bago City and Davao boxers as the toughest,” said Banal in Filipino during a dinner with sporswriters Thursday night.
Born in Bukidnon, Banal just came from a jog on Roxas Boulevard which capped his day’s training at Elorde Gym in Ortigas.
Banal (28-1-1, 20 KOs) said he feels better in his preparation for the world title fight. The 5-foot-4, muscle-bound fighter has resumed his training in Cebu City.
“We will make sure he gets all the advantage of being a southpaw,” said his handler Chad Canares of ALA.