Friday, October 19, 2012

Fair Play: Bring home the belt, AJ

THE first time I saw AJ Banal fight for a world title, I thought he was going to become one of the youngest world champions in the world.

He was only 19 years old, and with 17 wins and 1 draw against a foe who was 10-2-1, the WBA super flyweight title  seemed his on that fateful day on July 26, 2008, and the packed crowd at the Cebu Coliseum seemed privileged to witness the crowning of a new champion.

But someone forgot to tell Rafael Concepcion that, and the gutsy Panamanian, who was trailing in all three judges--86-84, 86-84, 88-82--peppered the Cebuano with body shots in the middle rounds and eventually downed him in the 10th.

I was there at ringside during that fight and I saw Banal's corner, egging the Cebuano to get up, but the young fighter just shook his head. I really thought he wasn't hurt that much, but his collapsing unto the arms of his promoter after the fight said otherwise.

It's been a long time since that night and Banal has won 11 straight, to improve to 28-1-1, with 20 KOs.  And tonight, he is again on the cusp of history, against Pungluang Sor Singyu, this time for the WBO bantamweight title.

The Thai's record is impressive, having as many knockouts as Banal has wins--42-1, with 27 KOs.

Tonight’s fight is in Manila and I hope that this time, AJ Banal will return to Cebu, with the belt.

Good luck, AJ! 

FOOTBALL UPDATES.  The Cebu Football Association, indeed, is mulling a lifetime ban against that football player who punched Archie Reyes after the Cesafi finals two weeks ago.

He was just there as a fan, but, the CFA can still penalize him from joining, and even watching, all CFA-sanctioned activities for what he did.
I agree with the move, there's no place for guys like him in a sport that is growing tremendously.  

And, that's not only it.  I've been told that they will also back Archie in filing charges against the guy, so he's little indiscretion is going to hurt him twice.

Now that, my friend is what you call karma.  I hope this will serve as a lesson to those who think they can get away with harming an official--drunk or not.  

As to the incident between Archie Reyes and Lito Ramos, which also happened in the Cesafi, that is under investigation and Nimrod Quinones, who heads the Disciplinary Committee, which also includes two non-board members of the CFA, has decided to stay off the case, out of delicadeza.

"I have always been close with the Ramoses," Sir Nimrod told me the other day.

CFA president Ricky Dakay said that after their experience with the previous admin, he said they are trying to be as fair as possible with the whole process, and are hearing both sides of the story before coming up with a decision.

Lito, by the way, is now in Manila to lead the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu in its first stint in the national finals of the Milo Little Olympics.  The team has quite some footsteps to follow, with Don Bosco winning the first three crowns.

Can the Eagles do it?

I have an idea that their two wins against Don Bosco—which came in the finals of both the Milo Little Olympics and the Cesafi secondary finals—say they can.

GETTING THEIR DUE.   One of the most active sector in the local football community is the one covering the BPOs, and I think it’s about time that this group get its recognition.  I’ve heard there are plans to put up a BPO division in the Aboitiz Cup and that’s a positive step.

By putting up one for them, the companies they work may extend bigger support to their employees, while the sons, daughters and friends who sometimes watch their matches, could also learn to appreciate the game.

And that’s how you help football grow.

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