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The future is here

CEBU  CITY—They all won big, but I would say the biggest winner was AJ “Bazooka” Banal.

This was the Pinoy Pride 26 put up as usual by ALA Promotions’ Tony and Michael Aldeguer and ABS-CBN Sports in this Queen City of the South where shops and bars and watering holes are virtually open 24/7.  If the country has another New York outside of Metro Manila, it is right here, the home of danggit and giant cagers 6’10” June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer and 7-footer Greg Slaughter of Ginebra San Miguel. 

Like New York, this city doesn’t sleep, too.

Two nights ago, after an exceedingly exciting experience watching boxing at its finest at the Waterfront Casino Hotel, I had a midnight snack of you know what?  Kalderetang kambing with garbanzos, and kinilaw na tanigue bathed liberally in thick coconut milk.  A cup of steaming rice clinched it.  And this was 2 in the morning; Abuhan Tres at I.T. Park closes at 5 a.m.     

Oh, well, crazy you may say, but this was my way of celebrating the thundering conquests of our very own pugilists who routed their foreign opponents in an unbelievable display of collective mayhem anchored on grit and raw courage. 

Except for Jimrex “The Executioner” Jaca, the seven others disposed of their foes in brilliant fashion, led by the card’s Top 3 fights featuring the sensational Pagara brothers and the ever sentimental favorite Banal.  Jaca suffered a cut in his eyebrow from a head butt and his bout with Mayayoshi Kotake of Japan ended in a technical draw as the third round was winding up.

“Prince” Albert Pagara, displaying tactical and well-calculated shots, floored Mexico’s Hugo “Olimpico” Partida in the first round three times for an automatic technical knockout victory.

So devastating were Albert’s 1-2 combinations to the face that Partida never really got started and ran into trouble very early in the fight.

A right to the chin after a left to the cheek dropped Partida barely a minute into the first round. 

Just seconds after he got up, Partida got banged up again and saw himself sitting on the ropes for another eight-count by the eagle-eyed Bruce McTavish.  When he still managed to rise, Partida was finally dispatched with a barrage of punches and was quickly waved out by McTavish as the Mexican lay prostrate on the canvas.

“Finally, I am holding a world championship belt,” Albert,who is now 21-0 with 15 knockouts, said in Filipino after the fight.

And if that lightning finish by Prince was spectacular enough, giving him the IBF international junior featherweight crown, how about this?

His elder brother, Jason, had a title belt even before he stopped another Mexican, Mario “Rocky” Meraz, in the night’s main event to retain the WBO international light welterweight crown.

Twice Jason decked Meraz with equally crippling combinations to the face.  Just as Meraz was about to fall anew while pinned on the ropes absorbing hits from all over, Danrex Tapdasan stopped the fight that stunned the Mexican who insisted he could still fight.

But Tapdasan stood his ground and gave Jason a TKO win with a tick left in the fourth round—to the consternation of the crowd wanting to see more blood and gore.

The Pagara brothers received a resounding applause but a similar ovation was accorded Banal, who knocked out the unbeaten Defry “The Hammer” Palulu so convincingly that spectators sent jaws dropping in seeming eternity.

Retirement staring him in the face, Banal, in a brilliant shift of strategy, planted blows to the body of Palulu, who doubled up like crumpled paper after absorbing five or so successive, telling hits to the liver.

So massive and destructive were Banal’s shots that Palulu stayed on the floor for several seconds while the ring doctor examined him.  The Indon could hardly breathe for quite a while, his windpipe possibly struck real hard midway into the second round.

The win literally saved Banal’s career that seemed headed for the rocks, coming yet against a fighter with a spotless 10-0 record, nine of them coming by way of knockout.

“I am the happiest man in this hall tonight,” said Michael Aldeguer.  “To see Banal win again this way, plus the spectacular knockout wins of the Pagara brothers – I couldn’t ask for more.”

The card was dubbed the “Fists of The Future.”

Well, with the way our eight boxers quelled foreign invasion, the future is here.

ALL IN    The next Pinoy Pride is on Aug. 29 in Dubai featuring, among others, Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista. Next, Pinoy Pride 28 will be held in the US in October before winding up its 2014 schedule in November, also here in Cebu.  All the best, Tony and Michael.  Indeed, your babe has come a long way since its inception in 2010.

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