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    AJ Banal's shot at world title ends in defeat

    Oct 20, 2012
    A bloodied AJ Banal is down on all fours after a barrage from Thai fighter Pungluang Sor Singyu in their WBO bantamweight title fight. Jerome Ascano

    CHALK up another win on Pungluang Sor Singyu’s growing list of Filipino victims. And this one was the biggest fish of them all.

    Sor Singyu foiled the world title bid of AJ `Bazooka”Banal by scoring a ninth-round technical knockout win in their World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight showdown on Saturday night before a stunned crowd of around 4,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    His durability in full display, the Thai stalked Banal throughout the 12-round match, and finally caught up with his younger Filipino foe when he connected a smashing right straight to Banal’s face.

    Sor Singyu never let up from there, connecting on a five-punch barrage to send the 23-year-old Banal down to the canvas.

    Obviously wobbly, Banal tried to get up amidst the sudden silence that engulfed the venue except for the cheers emanating from a small group of Thai supporters.

    But the native of Uthai Thani, Thailand readily went for the kill, swarming all over a defense-less Banal, who went down for the second time following a vicious Sor Singyu combination.

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    Referee Tony Weeks had seen enough by that time, immediately stopping the fight to the surprise of Banal, but to the obvious delight of Sor Singyu, who jumped up high in the air before falling into the canvas in jubilation.

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    Official time was 1:45 of the ninth round.

    When it was over, Banal sat on his stool sobbing, and had to be comforted by trainer Edito Villamor and cutman Dr. Ed dela Vega in the midst of the wild celebration by Sor Singyu and his corner men at the center of the ring.

    “I waited 10 years for this. I want to show to the whole of Thailand that I can become a champion,” said the 26-year-old Thai through an interpreter.

    Banal became the 15th Filipino victim of Sor Singyu, who improved to 43-1, with 28 KOs.

    The Filipino pride started out like a house on fire, controlling the early rounds with effective combinations and strong body shots. But reminiscent of his first career loss against Panamanian Rafael Concepcion in 2008, Banal faded later in the fight.

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    Until the bout was stopped, everything hung in the balance. Banal led in the scorecard of judge Robert Hoyle, 77-74, but trailed in the cards of both Raul Caiz Jr. (76-75) and Levi Martinez (76-75) owing to the one-point deduction slapped him in the sixth round for excessive low blows.

    Sor Singyu admitted the tide turned in his favor the moment Banal got cut on the side of his right eye due to an accidental headbutt in the third round.

    “I started to feel that I can beat him when he got cut in the third round,” added the Thai champion, who himself had a big welt just below his right eye.

    Banal, whose face was a bit swollen, fell to a 28-2 record (20 KOs) and was the lone Filipino to lose against their respective foreign opponents in the `Pinoy Pride XVII’ boxing card presented by ALA Promotions.

    Although Banal obviously staggered the Thai several times, Sor Singyu said he was never hurt during the match.

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    But in the end, he has nothing but praises to his Filipino opponent.

    “He’s a very good boxer, has good footwork, and good movement,” said the Thai.

    Earlier, Rey `Boom Boom’ Bautista scored a split decision over Mexican Daniel Ruiz to claim the WBO international featherweight crown. Bautista (34-2, 25 KOs) won it by scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 113-115.

    Jason Pagara (30-2, 18 KOs) on the other hand, retained his WBO international light-welterweight title by making short work of Miguel Antoine with a first round-knockout (2:48).

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    A bloodied AJ Banal is down on all fours after a barrage from Thai fighter Pungluang Sor Singyu in their WBO bantamweight title fight. Jerome Ascano
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