Panamaʼs Rafael "El Torito" Concepcion is poised and ready to take on AJ "Bazooka" Banal in the much anticipated battle for the WBA Super Flyweight crown at New Cebu Coliseum, Philippines on July 26, 2008.
Concepcion is ready for Banal. His training for the world title has been well planned, with the final stages intensifying in New York with renowned Panamanian trainers Hector Roca and Pedro Romero at the world famous Gleasonʼs Gym in Brooklyn.
Roca has trained no less than 18 world champions, including Iran Barkley, Aruro Gatti, Regilio Tuur, and Buddy Mcgirt, and he is famous for training Hillary Swank for her Oscar-winning role in the Clint Eastwood film Million Dollar Baby in 2004.
"We believe Panama will have their 26th world champion." says Romero. "He has good power in both hands and can hurt his opponent with either hand. He can box and punch going forward and back."
In preparation, Concepcion's team has been watching Banalʼs past fights. "Weʼve studied his tapes and we are prepared for what AJ Banal will bring," said Roca. "Rafael is sparring well and is right where we want him to be at this stage."
Concepcion is comfortable fighting southpaws, but his trainers arenʼt taking any chances. In New York, Concepcion has been sparring with opponents who emulate Banalʼs style, but also has been sparring southpaw Ricardo Cordoba, 33 -1-2,(21) while back home in Panama.
By the time Concepcion arrives in the Philippines it will conclude a gruelling total of 10 weeks training; six weeks in Panama at Gym Master Gomez and then a further fout weeks in the US at Gleasonʼs Gym.
"Concepcion is ready to fight," says his manager at Optimum Sports Agency, Damon de Berry. "He currently weighs 120 pounds and wonʼt have any problems making the 115 pound limit. He is a very dangerous combatant. A fighter who leaves his home town to step up his training is a determined fighter. Heʼll be entering their country and bringing the fight to AJ Banal."
This bull of a warrior from Panama knows how to deal pain to his opponents. From the day he stepped into the pro boxing arena at age 19, Concepcion was a force to reckon with as he disposed fellow starter Carlos Murillo in the second round.
Heʼs gone on to knockout all but four of his opponents and collecting the WBC Fecarbox super flyweight title along the way. Concepcion's last fight with Jean Piero Perez on March 27 was an explosive contest in which Perez knocked Concepcion's down twice in the second round. Concepcion maintained control and eventually dropped Perez in round 3.
Concepcion is rated No. 6 by the WBA with a record of 10-2-1 and 6 knockouts while Banal is ranked No. 3 with 17-0-1 and 14 KOs.
Team Concepcion will arrive in The Philippines on July 20, allowing a week to acclimatise and round off preparations as well as promote the fight with a whirlwind of press engagements including the official weigh in at 11am on Friday, July 25.
The fight is organized by ALA Promotions in partnership with Golden Boy Promotions and will be televised by the Philipine broadcaster ABS CBN Sports.
The world title shot is a dream come true for Concepcion and this warrior is not the kind to leave the Philippines without the championʼs belt.