MANILA, Philippines - AJ Banal isn’t losing sleep over the strong possibility of him becoming a world champion tomorrow evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“I’m excited pero nakakatulog pa naman,” said Banal who will dispute the vacant WBO bantamweight crown against Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu.
It will be the first crack at the world title for the mainstay of the prominent ALA Boxing stable in Cebu City. He said he’s ready like he’s never been before.
“If there’s a chance for a knockout in the first round, I will go for it. If it lasts 12 rounds, then it lasts 12 rounds. If he wants 15 rounds, then we’ll do 15 rounds,” he said.
Banal tipped the scales yesterday morning at 119 lb, just over the limit of 118 lb, and should have no problem for today’s official weigh-in at noon at Mall of Asia’s Music Hall.
“I can weigh in tomorrow at exactly 118 or even a little under,” said the 23-year-old Banal after walking into the Midas Hotel main lobby for the final press conference.
He said he plans to climb the ring under 130 lb.
Pungluang, who flew in Tuesday afternoon, sat quietly at the presidential table, and spoke through an interpreter.
“We will just see inside the ring,” said the Thai fighter, who carries an impressive 42-1-0 record, when asked to comment on Banal’s (28-1-1) prediction.
The visitor was pressed for more, and just repeated what he said a few days ago that he will knock Banal out inside six rounds.
“Six rounds. I know what to do in the ring. I don’t feel worried at all,” said Pungluang, who has among his many victims more than a dozen Filipinos.
Banal, who was at the other end of the long table, was quick to react.
“Six rounds sabi niya? Five rounds sa akin (If he says six rounds, then I say five rounds),” he said.
In the main undercard, Rey “Boom-Boom” Bautista faces Mexican Daniel Ruiz for the WBO International featherweight title while Jason Pagara takes on Barbados’ Miguel Antoine for the WBO International junior-welterweight crown.
Team Ruiz arrived for the press conference in green t-shirts announcing Manny Pacquiao’s forthcoming fight against Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez.
But they’re not here to promote that fight. When asked to change what they did was wear their “Pacquiao-Marquez” shirts inside out.