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29-year-old Canadian boxer Tyson Cave (15-1-0, 5KOs) has made quite an impression with the local Cebu boxing faithful, since arriving last Sunday for his bantamweight showdown against AJ “Bazooka” Banal (24-1-1, 19 KOs) at the Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City for Pinoy Pride 7.
Dubbed as “The Prince of Hali” (short for the city he’s from called Halifax in Nova Scotia), the flamboyant and outspoken Cave brought his “trash talk” with him and has managed to generate some hype by promising to make Banal cry in the ring when they face each other this Saturday in front of his hometown crowd.
Cave, who is accompanied by his father and manager Robert and trainer Bunny Phillips, has been soaking up the media and fan reaction in the boxing-crazy city of Cebu. This is Cave’s first fight outside of Canada, and only the second time outside Nova Scotia. “Boxing is just so great here,” Robert Cave said in an interview with The Chronicle Herald.
Cave himself couldn’t help but be taken aback by the reaction he’s received. “They’ve embraced me, they love me,” Cave said as quoted by Canadian sports scribe Monte Mosher. “Everyone knows who I am and they are excited to see me. But I’m not really thinking about that. I’m focused on winning over the crowd and having a good fight and coming home with another belt. That’s pretty much it.”
“Tyson is a phenomenon here […] Forty percent of the people here are cheering for Tyson. I can’t believe it. He’s the Prince of Cebu,” added Robert Cave.
It’s called “Philippine Hospitality”; something the Caves are not so familiar with back home in Halifax, where there are but about 400 Filipino families that populate the small and friendly capital city of Altantic Canada. But “King of Cebu”? Even Mr. Fantastic would call that a stretch.
So just who really is Tyson Cave? And does he have a legitimate shot at upsetting Banal as he proudly suggests he will do?
Cave is the WBC Continental Americas super bantamweight champion. He’s a slick southpaw and likes mimicking some of Roy Jones Jr.’s moves and has a counter-puncher’s mentality. He uses good footwork and jabs to keep his opponents at a distance, and wins rounds by scoring points off flurries and combinations. He is a calculative boxer that likes to slip, bob and weave and backpedal. He won’t engage too much in exchanges due to his lack of punching power.
According to a colleague of mine who covers the Canadian boxing scene, Cave prides himself with his defense, and is definitely harder to hit than your average fighter. But against sub-par opposition, Cave hasn’t really proven himself to be at that caliber for him to assume that Banal will not be able to hit him. “I’ll give him five dollars every time he touches me and add it to his purse,” proclaimed Cave during the event’s press conference.
His only loss came at the hands of an Irish slugger named Willie Casey in Toronto during the Shaw Festival at the Royal York Hotel in April of 2010. Cave was knocked down a couple of times and lost via 8th round TKO. Casey pressured Cave throughout the fight until finally forcing him to fold in the final round. Casey’s most notable fight is his 1st-round TKO loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux last March, wherein he got dropped thrice.
Against Banal, Cave will have a young hard-hitting KO artist that will pressure him all fight long. Can he make good of his promise and win the Cebu fans over with his performance in the ring the way he has won over some fans with his antics and be hailed as the new “King of Cebu”? Anything is possible, but if I were to put odds on this fight, I have Banal as the 4-1 favorite.
-DG- visit www.DSOURCEboxing.com
Filipino Sports Examiner Dennis ‘dSource’ Guillermo is a freelance sports writer and contributes to TV5’s Interaksyon.com, BoxingScene.com, The SunStar newspaper in the Philippines and SportsManila.net.
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