Banal mulls hanging up his gloves
His dream of becoming a world champion was shattered once again and AJ Banal is already considering hanging up his gloves for good.
“Galibog nako. Na discourage nako. Lami na i-undang (I don’t know what to do. I am discouraged. I want to quit),” Banal told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview a day after his stunning loss to Pungluang Sor Singyu last Saturday night in the main event of the Pinoy Pride 17: Philippines vs. The World at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Banal went into the match looking to redeem himself from a frustrating loss four years ago. Instead, Sor Singyu dealt him with an even more painful loss after the Thai knocked him out in the ninth round of their action-packed battle for the WBO bantamweight crown.
“Naguol jud ko. Guol ko na wa ko kahatag kalipay sa mga Cebuanos (I feel very sad that I was not able to give joy to the Cebuanos,” said Banal, who first blew his chance of winning a world title in October 2008 when he lost to Panamian Rafael Concepcion via a 10th round knockout at the Cebu Coliseum.
The anti-climactic ending came in the 1:45 mark of the ninth round when Sor Singyu floored Banal with a right hook to the head.
Banal admitted that he was wobbly when he stood up but he could have continued fighting had referee Tony Weeks not count him out.
“Sakitan ko na gi-undang ang away. Lipong ko pero kaya pa nako (It was painful that the fight was stopped. I was dizzy but I could have handled it),” said Banal.
Prior to the stoppage, Sor Singyu Pungluang was leading in the scorecards of the two judges with Raul Caiz Jr. and Levi Martinez scoring it, 76-75. Banal was ahead in the scorecard of the third judge Robert Hoyle, 77-74.
Banal was a meted a one-point deduction in the sixth for excessive low blows.
Banal wailed and fell on his knees after Weeks stopped the fight. His wife Junbeth was also inconsolable at the ringside.
Banal said the cut above the right eyebrow that he sustained following a clash of heads in the sixth round didn’t bother him.
“Akong vision 80 percent. Focused pa ko ato. Natumba ko pero kaya pa jud unta to nako,” said Banal. The cut needed five stitches to close.
no plans yet
Michael Aldeguer, CEO/president of ALA Promotions, said Team Banal will evaluate to find out what to do next.
“We really have to evaluate with the trainers. He (Banal) has limitations. Can he take a punch? It may be the heart or it may be the mind. The mind is willing but can the body do it? Those are the things that we will try to evaluate,” said Aldeguer.
Aldeguer said he believed Banal did his best and showed enough heart against Sor Singyu.
“I think the cut bothered AJ. He threw good combinations. He executed the gameplan. He was hit but he came back. But we have to give credit to the Thai boxer. He was sturdy,” said Aldeguer.
When asked what were the first things that Banal said after the shocking loss, Aldeguer said :”Sorry sir. Wa nako nakuha.”
“He was very down. He wanted it so bad,” said Aldeguer.
Though Banal insisted that the fight was stopped prematurely, Aldeguer said Weeks did the right thing in halting the bout.
“It was a good decision. He’s a very experienced referee and he knew what he was doing,” said Aldeguer.
In a separate interview, Weeks said he was just protecting Banal when he stopped the fight.
“Safety first. We have to protect the boxer. AJ was wobbly. His legs were unsteady and his eyes were glassy and almost close,” said Weeks.
Contrary to some speculations, Banal’s loss will not affect the whole Pinoy Pride series.
“Pinoy Pride will be bigger and brighter next year. We are excited for next year. We’ll sign up with different boxing clubs and we are even bringing in Fil-American boxers by teaming up with Top Rank,” said Aldeguer.
Aldeguer, who clarified that ALA Promotions and ALA Gym are two different entities.
“That’s the misconception. ALA Promotions’ main thrust is to promote world-class boxing. It is for the development of Philippine boxing and not only for ALA boxers,” said Aldeguer.
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