By Dennis Principe
The winner between title challengers AJ “Bazooka” Banal of the Philippines and Pungluan Sor Singyu of Thailand will be in good company. That is because the vacant World Boxing Organization bantamweight crown has a rich tradition of being held by universally recognized world champions the last seven years. The southpaw Banal (28-1-1, 20 knockouts) and Sor Singyu (42-1, 27 KO’s) will vie for the same belt in a 12-round title fight to be staged tonight at the MOA Arena in Pasay City, Philippines.
In 2005, Mexican Jhonny Gonzalez captured the crown when he stopped Ratanachai Sor Vorapin of Thailand in their title fight in Tuczon, Arizona. After two title defenses, Gonzalez lost the belt to Filipino Gerry Penalosa in 2007 in Sacramento, California. Penalosa was later on stripped of the title when he moved up in weight, which gave another Mexican superstar Fernando Montiel to pick up the belt while Puerto Rican star Eric Morel held the interim crown. Montiel reigned for more than a year before he was stopped by Filipino pound-for-pound entrant Nonito Donaire, Jr. via a smashing second round knockout early last year in Las Vegas.
When Donaire invaded the heavier superbantamweight division, Mexico’s multi-division champion Jorge Arce claimed the WBO bantam strap when he decisioned Angky Angkota of Indonesia in their 12-round bout late last year in Mexico. Arce then decided to position himself in possible big money fights in the 122lb class, paving the way for Banal and Sor Singyu, the top two rated boxers, to contest the vacant throne.