MAASIN CITY – Overshadowed by General Santos City fighers, Mandaue City bets have bounced back to reach the finals of the PLDT-ABAP National Boxing Championship at the Maasin City gymnasium.
Hipolito Banal Jr. outclassed Joash Jordan of General Santos City, 28-8, to advance to the finals of the junior light flyweight class, while Jeffrey Estelle defeated Aldrin Signar of Tayabas, 19-10, in the junior boys pinweight category.
The power-punching Banal answered the bell with a bang and kept up the pressure throughout to the thrill of the raucous crowd in this serene coastal city in Southern Leyte.
Also barging into the finals of the junior boys pinweight class was Mario Bautista of Himamaylan, who defeated Jeronil Borres of Misamis Oriental.
Banal’s performance complimented his rousing victory over hometown bet Jeffrey Orillo in the preliminaries where the referee stepped in to avert a mugging Tuesday.
He now faces another power-hitter in Patrick Dinolan of Davao del Norte, who clobbered Mario Jaga of Bago City in the other semifinal pairing, 8-4, with the gold medal and a possible slot in the national pool at stake.
The gold medal bouts begin at 3:30 pm Saturday with Maasin City mayor Maloney Samaco at ringside to cheer on all the finalists.
"I will do my best to make my family proud," said Banal, a soft-spoken 15-year old freshman in Kabankalan National High School whose older brother, AJ, blew his bid for the WBO bantamweight championship last year.
In the junior boys flyweight, Michael John Bahena of Davao del Norte stopped Reymart Gaballo of General Santos City to arrange a gold-medal match with Kenneth Paul Gentalla of Tagbiliran, who outclassed Adrian Tambanillo of Bago City, 18-12.
In the junior light bantamweight division, Levawil Sabines of Bago City defeated Jeric Ferrer of Tayabas, 14-9, to book a finals matchup with Presco Carcosia of Misamis, who flattened Michael Javier of General Santos City 17-15.
Over at the junior girls flyweight class, Liezel Mae Alde of General Santos City crushed Airene Pamisa of Misamis, 19-14, to face Ruby Nicanor of Maasin City, who beat Judith Balasangay of Northern Samar, 20-17.
As of posting time, General Santos City is dominating the semifinals as it already sent four boxers to the championship round while Misamis Oriental and Davao del Norte have three boxers apiece in the finals.