Banal ready to surprise Thai Pungluang tonightBy Roy Luarca
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippies — Given another crack at a world title, AJ Banal is ready for whatever Pungluang Sor Singyu will bring to the ring Saturday night in their battle for the WBO bantamweight championship at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Banal said he will go for the quick knockout, but if the Thai proves to be tough and elusive, he is ready to go the full 12 rounds in the headliner of Pinoy Pride XVII Philippines vs the World.”
The 23-year-old Banal appeared ripped when he weighed in at an exact 118 pounds Friday at the MOA Music Hall.
Though 3 1/2 inches shorter than the 5-foot-5 Banal, Pungluang came in at 119 lb and spent an hour running and sweating at the sauna before making weight for the 12-round encounter.
Banal fought and lost to Panamanian Rafael Concepcion as a 19-year-old for the interim WBA super flyweight title. He was leading on all scorecards but lost by a 10th-round knockout—the only blot on his 28-win, 1-draw (20 KOs) record.
Pungluang himself is no pushover. The former muay thai fighter counts 15 Filipinos among his 42 victims (27 KOs). He has lost just once.
Like Banal, Pungluang wields explosive power, having stopped 12 foes in the first two rounds. To prepare for Banal’s southpaw stance, Pungluang tapped Filipino pug Jerwin Ancajas in his training camp at a military facility in Thailand.
Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista also checked in at an exact 126 lb in his quest for the WBO International featherweight title.
In contrast, his Mexican foe Daniel Ruiz came in 3 lb over the limit and will be made to wear 10-ounce gloves instead of eight. In addition, Ruiz will incur a 10 percent reduction in his purse.
Though his 27-5-2 (19 KOs) mark is less impressive than Bautista’s 33-2 (25 KOs) card, Ruiz predicted a knockout victory in the chief support of the fight card put up by Ala Promotions and ABS-CBN Sports.
Rising star Jason Pagara (29-2 with 18 KOs) will battle unbeaten Miguel “Hands of Stone” Antoine of Barbados in another 12-round tussle for the WBO International light welter crown.
Other Filipinos tangling with foreign fighters are veteran Michael Domingo (44-16-2 with 23 KOs) and Marlon Tapales (19-1 with 6 KOs).
Domingo will battle Ugandan Mudde Ntambe Rabison (19-2-1 with 7 KOs) over eight rounds while Tapales will tangle with Indonesian Ramanudin (15-2-2 (10 KOs), also in eight rounds.