AJ Banal Targets Rafael Concepcion After Cove Win

Filipino boxer AJ “Bazooka” Banal won a bloody scrap, retaining his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Asia-Pacific bantamweight title, with an eight-round technical decision over Canadian Tyson Cove in Cebu, Philippines.

It was a successful defense but complicated for Banal, who bled profusely from a dangerous cut on his right eyebrow after an unintentional clash of heads. Undoubtedly Banal landed the best punches of the fight, especially with combinations initiated by his right jabs, which were followed up by left hooks and right uppercuts.

Cove (15-2, 5KO’s) used a lot of dirty tricks and questionable tactics during the fight, but never lost any points. In the eighth round, the referee stopped the fight, based on the recommendation of the attending physician Dr. Jose Unabia, because Banal’s cut was too severe. The fight went to the scorecards. The scores were 73-79, 74-78, and 74-78 – all in favor Banal.

Banal, 22 years old and ranked by the four major governing bodies, raises his record to 25 wins, 1 loss, and 17 wins by knockout.

After the win, Banal expressed his desire to avenge the only loss of his career. Banal publicly challenged Panamanian Rafael “El Torito” Concepcion. In July of 2008, Concepcion defeated Banal in Cebu in a ​dramatic battle.

“I’m glad I held on to my WBO Asia Pacific title, and now I want to challenge Torito Concepcion,” said Banal to BoxingScene.com/NotiFight.com. “I hope he (Concepcion) gives me a rematch. Now I’m craving to be a better fighter and I want that fight to clear my record. My agent (Don Antonio L. Aldeguer) supports me and agrees.”

Negotiations for the Banal vs Concepcion II are already in progress.

The supervisor of the fight was WBO Vice-President Mr. Leon Panoncillo of Hawaii. The event was organized by ALA Boxing Promotions and televised in the Philippines by ABC CBN Sports.

By: Carlos Costa