CEBU CITY – Merlito ‘El Tigre’ Sabillo (22-0, 11 KO’s) of the ALA Gym will defend his WBO world minimumweight title against Jorle Estrada (17-6, 6 KO’s) of Colombia on July 13 at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila. The formal launching for the title bout that will headline the 21st edition of the highly successful ‘Pinoy Pride’ series was held today at the St. Mark’s Hotel in uptown Cebu.
The two main supporting bouts will feature ‘King’ Arthur Villanueva (22-0, 12 KO’s), the reigning OPBF superflyweight champion, who will fight for the vacant WBO Asia-Pacific super flyweight title against Mexico’s Arturo ‘Fuerte’ Badillo (21-4, 19 KO’s) and AJ ‘Bazooka’ Banal (28-2-1, 20 KO’s) versus another Mexican, Abraham ‘Cholo’ Gomez ( 18-7-1, 9 KO’s).
“We prepared well for this title defense.” Sabillo said, “I will go for a knockout, it will be a matter of timing and delivery.”
“We doubled our efforts,” Trainer Edito Villamor added, “Winning the title has made Sabillo more dedicated. He is also mentally prepared. We will give a good show.”
Villanueva has not given up his OPBF belt; The WBO regional belt will boost his world ranking. Villanueva will be fighting a Mexican for the first time in his career.
ALA Promotions President Michael Aldeguer answers questions from the media. To his right is WBO minimumweight champion Merlito Sabillo.
Comebacking AJ ‘Bazooka’ Banal is being confronted with the old questions on his last defeat.
ALA Promotions CEO Michael Aldeguer talked about his plans for the future and his choice of venue for this title bout. He emphasized their plan to bring boxing to Metro Manila and casinos like Solaire can do what the Venetian is doing in Macau.
Aldeguer also announced that ALA Promotions has been granted a license to promote in California. His vision is for a Filipino company to do what Top Rank Promotions has done. ALA Promotions is planning ahead of the Solaire card; he describes PP XXI as ‘planting the seeds’ for future cards in Metro Manila in the next fve years.
The latest Filipino boxing champ, IBO jr.bantamweight titlist Edrin Dapudong, has a contract with ALA Promotions. Dapudong’s options are tied up with the South African promoter but Aldeguer is looking forward to promoting Dapudong’s future defenses here in the Philippines.
BANAL PICKS UP THE PIECES
Banal’s dreams were shattered last October at the hands of Pungluang Sor Singyu. He will have another rebuilding process which will be on a big stage once again. Cebu sportswriters raised questions whether this will be Banal’s last chance and will he face early retirement like Rey Bautista if he loses.
“It is hard to say if this will be his last chance,” Aldeguer said, “There are fighters who go through a lot of obstacles in life. Even Flash Elorde went through obstacles. The expectations were too high for him; a fighter goes through so many things.”
Banal is excited to make a comeback. He said that he has learned his lesson. His trainers feel the same way. But he will have to make a return once again under the microscope and something that he has to accept. The WBO world banatmweight title is now in the hands of Paulus Ambunda of Namibia who will be defending his title this August in Cebu against Tomoki Kameda of Japan.
PINOY PRIDE XXI: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE will be telecast on ABS-CBN.