AJ "Bazooka" Banal: Stirred but Not Shaken
Don Jose Sulaiman once quoted,
"This young man reminds me of Hector Camacho."
Perhaps he's suggesting that the young Alex John Banal, a former Puto and plastic bag vendor or simply AJ "Bazooka" Banal to the Filipino boxing enthusiast is the second coming of the great Hector "macho" Camacho.
I beg to disagree. I myself would rather say that "AJ Banal is the first coming of AJ Banal."
Banal, a native of Cebu city, Philippines started boxing at the age of 10 (although he turned pro in 2005 at the age of 17)
With the guidance of his uncle Roselito Campaña, Edito Villamor, The Aldeguers, and the rest of the famed ALA gym crew Banal now stood as one of the countries most promising fighters.
Equipped with genuine ring smarts, powerful punches and a heart as big as Metro Manila. Banal cruised on to a 17-0-1 14KO's record early in his career.
In his 19th fight on July 26, 2008 (4 1/2 months before his 20th birthday) he was matched up against Panama's Rafael "el torito" Concepcion for the vacant WBA interim world championship.
His countrymen including yours truly had high hopes and thousands of Cebuanos filled the Cebu coliseum in anticipation of the crowning of a new world champion.
That night, a new champion was crowned however it did not turned out the way it should be.
The hometown crowd turned silent as Concepcion the supposedly roll-over-and-die opponent did not roll over and die.
Hence Concepcion caught the exhausted Banal with a picture-perfect body shot that sends the former kissing the canvass.
Well, that was eight months ago.
After the disappointing loss Banal bounced back strong last January 31 against Nouldy Manakane knocking out the guy in the fourth round.
In the fight Banal displayed ring brilliance, precise timing and a much improved conditioning and looks to be right on track in winning that evasive world championship.
As what someone said before, "What does not kill you makes you stronger"
The case seems to be very appropriate to Banal as he came back stronger, faster, smarter and tougher.
He has found new techniques, new beginnings and a new hope for a country in need of role models to look up to.
I'm sure Banal would win a world title sooner or later.
If something's bound to happen, it'll happen..
Time will come, time will come..
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