AJ Banal loses to Thai Pungluang in world title fight
MANILA, Philippines—Filipino bet AJ “Bazooka” Banal suffered a ninth round TKO defeat at the hands of Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu late Saturday night in the main event of Pinoy Pride XVII Philippines vs. The World as the sizeable crowd at the SM Mall of Asia Arena was left stunned.
Banal was wobbly, struggling to get his legs under him after Pungluang sent him down the second time before renowned referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight at the 1:45 mark of the ninth round.
Banal, who failed to capture the vacant WBO world bantamweight title, never recovered after getting knocked down the first time on a Pungluang flurry of punches to the head.
“I’m very proud I’ve waited for this for 10 years, I was never hurt,” said the 24-year-old Pungluang through an interpreter as he pounded his chest.
“Kaya ko pa (lumaban). Tinaas ko dalawang kamay ko tapos biglang tinigil ng referee (I still can fight. I raised my two hands but the referee stopped [the fight]),” said a disappointed Banal, who wants a rematch after muffing his second attempt at a world title.
The 23-year-old Banal (28-2-1 20 KOs) sustained a cut on his right eye in the third round on what appeared to be from a headbutt that was followed up with a punch as blood flowed that seemingly disrupted his vision.
Pungluang also took some hard punches particularly to his body but didn’t break and even kept going forward, pressing the fight to the game Banal, who had his moments including one in the eighth round where he was able to connect combinations to the head.
The former Muay Thai fighter Pungluang, who has lost only once, continued his mastery over Filipino boxers with Banal becoming the 16th Filipino boxer he has beaten out of his total 43 fights.
In the penultimate bout, Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista took a beating but fought out a split decision win over Daniel Ruiz of Mexico for the vacant WBO International featherweight championship.
Bautista, who got the nod of two of the judges, 115-113 and 116-112, wasted little time in opening up.
But Ruiz, who came in three pounds over the limit, was up for a fight, doing most of his damage while on the counter.
“Akala ko talaga di ko matatapos ang laban. Ang bigat talaga ng suntok niya (I thought I won’t be able to finish the fight. His punches were really strong),” admitted Bautista, who hiked his mark to 34 wins, 25 coming by way of knockout against two losses.
Both Bautista and Ruiz exchanged blows majority of the fight with either fighter landing solid blows.
In round six, Bautista caught Ruiz straight on as the Mexican’s nose gets bloodied.
Round three saw Bautista in deep trouble as Ruiz pummeled him with combinations to the head. The Filipino battled back but Ruiz held his ground, keeping a high guard.
Meanwhile, Michael Domingo and Jason Pagara, also from the famed ALA stable, scored early knockouts in their respective bouts.
Domingo sent his foe Mudde Ntambe Rabison down after a crushing body shot for the second round knockout while Pagara ended Miguel Antoine’s undefeated run early in the opening round.
Pagara, who captured the WBO International light welterweight championship, decked Antoine with a piercing right to the head ending the fight at the 2:48 mark of round 1.
“Hindi ko akalain na ma-knockout ko siya (I never thought I could know him out in the) first round. Akala ko aabot ng (I thought we would finish the) 12 rounds,” said Pagara.
Pagara improved his record to 30-2 (19 KOs) while the 33-year-old Domingo notched his 45th win (24 KOs) against 16 defeats and two draws.
Other results, Marlon Tapales knocked out his Indonesian foe Rasmudin 1:10 in the second round while Juan Martin Elorde scored a TKO victory over Gerry Sismundo in the fourth round.
Filipino Randy Bullong defeated Japanese Kazuma Ejiri via stoppage in the last round of their four-rounder.