SOFIA, Bulgaria: Despite continued cloudy, cold and rainy conditions, a ray of sunshine shone on the Philippine team at the International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Youth Championships at the Arena Armeec Sofia, as 17-year-old Hipolito Banal Jr. scored a unanimous decision victory on Saturday over Colombian Hernan Alarcon.

    The three judges scored it 30-27 (twice) and 29-28 for the diminutive younger brother of professional boxer AJ Banal.

    The young Cebu native continuously penetrated the taller Colombian’s defense with snappy hooks and straights and some body shots as well. The Colombian champion tried to trade shots, but the Filipino teener got the better of most of the exchanges.

    “Polly was a little over-eager at the start, but eventually settled down and went with the fight plan of pressing the attack,” said 3-star national coach Ronald Chavez, who worked Banal’s corner along with Youth and Junior head coach Romeo Brin.

    Day after the win (Sunday), he again suits up for another tough assignment against lanky Mert Karaclic of Turkey, who will tower over Banal by at least five inches.

    Banal is the last man standing after Dannel Maamo, Presco Carcosia Jr and Sammy Bernabe Jr. were all eliminated in the preliminaries.

    “We were unlucky to draw very strong opponents early, so Polly’s victory has lifted the team’s spirit. The other boys are still busy here, sparring with different nationalities. We just hope Banal can get a couple more wins at least, to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games [YOG],” said delegation head Ed Picson.

    The YOG will be held in Nanjing, China in August.


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