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Watching last Satruday’s fight was pleasing to the eyes, at first.

Tyson “Prince of Hali” Cave (15-2, 5 KOs) of Canada did good on his promise to deliver a whole new level of boxing entertainment to fight fans who watched him do pirouettes against Filipino slugger AJ Banal (25-1-1, 19 KOs). But like any boxing fan, I soon craved for action and hoped that, at the very least, Cave would also emulate what Prince Naseem Hamed did in his prime on top of his ring antics – blast opponents away. After all, Cave said he looks up to Hamed alongside Muhammad Ali.

But for someone who has a 33.33% knockout rate, blasting Banal would be a stretch for Cave. And as the fight wore on, the lack of action from both fighters – Banal’s inability to trap and pressure Cave coupled with the Canadian’s unwillingness to engage Banal – became the bane for most of the people who watched the runaround.


Tyson Caves walks away as AJ Banal is declared the winner of their WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight encounter.

But credit should be given where credit is due. Cave got Banal figured out. The Canadian knew it was futile to trade power shots with Banal, whose knockout rate registers at a whopping 80%. Erik Morales stayed away from Manny Pacquiao’s lethal left when they first met – until the very last minute when El Terible decided to throw caution out the window.

Cave had the perfect game plan, and that is to outbox Banal. And the Canuck had a significant success at that area, whose elusive movements left the Filipino champion swinging at the air. However, making the opponent miss while spanking your own butt don’t win you points either. Cave managed to sneak a few punches here and there. And if those shots had the pop of Hamed’s fists, I certainly believe that the Pinoy Pride 7’s main event would have given us a different outcome.

Banal may have retained his title. But amidst the jubilation, any hardcore boxing fan would realize the stark revelation that floated that night: Cave exposed Bazooka. The fine blueprint on how to beat Banal was laid out flat and nicely.

The Filipino may have limitations in terms of boxing skills, but last Saturday’s showing revealed to the world a fundamental flaw in Banal’s approach. He was not able to adjust his game plan and instead went on a goose chase. Whatever he brought to the table was not working.

For Banal, much is left to be desired. It can be argued that he is young and has time on his side. But most boxing careers share one thing in common – they have short life spans. And if that fight against Cave is any indication, Banal has certainly reached a career plateau.

Photo credits: Inquirer Sports





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Kenneth P. Ragpala is an award-winning sports blogger who has been covering the sport of boxing since 2008. His works have appeared in local newspapers in his home city in Cagayan de Oro and in several online publications abroad. Ragpala has written for several boxing websites, namely Fight Hype, 8 Count News, and Bleacher Report.