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Power intact but can 'Real Deal' Concepcion make it all the way?

The end came so swift and brutal that most of the riproaring crowd at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City suddenly fell silent. Even Tanzanian journeyman Juma Fundi seemed at loss as he struggled to his feet after kissing the canvas, unable to comprehend whether it was just a bad dream.

But for Bernabe Abe Concepcion the right cross to the head which flattened Fundi 26 seconds gone in the second round meant one thing: The power which once attracted worldwide attention is back.

I am overwhelmed. I would like to thank God for this victory, said the 26 year-old Concepcion, who annexed the vacant World Boxing Organization Oriental superbantamweight title in the bout which finished nearly midnight last Friday owing to the exciting fightcard put up by Arci Boxing Promotions in cooperation with Saved by the Bell Promotion.

Dubbed as Real Deal, Concepcion admitted that he's far from his best but like a neophyte learning the ropes, the 5-foot-5 native of Catanduanes said he felt comfortable fighting at 122 pounds.

When I fought as a featherweight (127 pounds), my opponents were bigger and stronger. But super bantam is really my ideal class because my power is intact even if reduce weight,'' said Concepcion, who made heads turn when he decked the then-invincible Juan Manuel Lopez in 2010, a year after gaining the scorn of the public when he got disqualified after punching Steve Luevano after the bell had sounded.

He also fared badly against Mikey Garcia in 2012, a loss which cynics said was the end of his career.

Concepcion said he started slow against Fundi, who came to the venue with a cornerman and well known Filipino matchmaker Art Monis. Monis and Fundi's trainer gallantly held the African flag as the upbeat Tanzanian national anthem was being played.

But there was nothing upbeat in Fundi as the bell sounded. He threw meaningless jabs as he circled the ring while Concepcion, his eyes brimming with fire, waited for the right opportunity to strike.

I started slow and I could not throw my punches,'' admitted Concepcion. But that was before he found a little opening and sneaked the killer right cross.

Fundi dropped to 27-12-3 win-loss-draw record . Later at the dressing room, Fundi said he didn't see the punch.

I was ready to fight for 12 rounds. But your boxer was very powerful.''

Ryan Gabriel and Elmer Anuran, two of the country's youthful boxing promoters said Concepcion is on the right track for putting an exclamation mark to his long-time quest for a world title. Both Anuran of Saved by the Bell and Gabriel of Arci Promotions said they are lining a big-time fight for Concepcion this October which should put their ward on the radar for a shot at the world crown.

I am really proud of Abe because of his discipline and desire to come back. His skills and maturity come hand in hand,'' said Gabriel, who noted that Concepcion is slowly regaining his aggressiveness.

Concepcion improved his record to 33-6-2, 19 knockouts but he knows his record will mean little if he didn't conquer the world stage, which was once within his grasp.

I am very fortunate that I have promoters who are really helping me achieve my dream of winning the world title,'' said Concepcion.

Anuran said if things will go as planned Concepcion will exchange punches with Chris Avalos this October.

That will be a thrill of a fight,'' said Anuran, who never wavered in his belief that Concepcion still has it to become a world champion.

Avalos became notorious among rings fans when he mauled rising hero Drian Golden Fist Francisco, whose star rose under Anuran.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Aug 1, 2015
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