BOXING : Banke, Zaragoza in Rematch at Forum Tonight


Paul Banke, the crowd-pleasing slugger from Quail Valley who let a world championship slip from his grasp in June, gets another chance tonight at the Forum.

In a rematch of their lively fight June 22 at the Forum, Banke (18-4) meets Daniel Zaragoza (39-4-1) of Mexico City for Zaragoza’s World Boxing Council super-bantamweight championship.

Banke, 26, one-time Southland amateur standout from Azusa who overcame drug abuse a year ago, promises a successful effort this time against Zaragoza, one of boxing’s little-known but more durable champions.


“He fought a smarter fight than I did the last time we met, but this time I’ll be smarter--this will be my best fight,” Banke said.

The last time they met, Zaragoza, 30, won a split decision. He conserved energy in the middle rounds against the much busier Banke to win the last three rounds. Banke seemed briefly to have taken control of that fight in the ninth round, when he dropped Zaragoza with a left hook.

But Banke faded in the last three rounds and Zaragoza, despite bleeding from several cuts, picked up the tempo and finished in strong fashion.

Also, Banke seemed unfocused at times, mugging and making faces at Zaragoza in the early rounds instead of fighting him.

The unflappable Zaragoza, often ripped by Mexico City boxing writers for being a “lucky” champion and for not fighting in Mexico City, keeps rolling along. He’ll make $50,000 tonight, Banke $15,000.

Zaragoza’s manager, Rafael Mendoza, said Zaragoza (he calls him “Daniel the Lion-Hearted”) is boxing-mad Mexico’s unloved champion.


“Daniel’s entire career has been a road trip,” he said.

“He was born, raised and lives in Mexico City, but he’s fought there only once in his career. So the Mexican writers knock him. They say he’s not as good a bantamweight as Carlos Zarate was. Well, Zaragoza won the title when he stopped Zarate two years ago.

“Then they say he’s not as good a bantamweight champion as Ruben Olivares. Well, who is? Olivares might be the greatest fighter who ever lived. But none of this seems to bother Daniel much. He just keeps winning.”

Zaragoza, who boxed for Mexico at the 1980 Olympic Games, is defending his 122-pound championship for the sixth time. When he was Mexico’s national bantamweight champion, he defended that title nine times.

He’s a clever left-hander (Banke is also left-handed), with little punching power, relying instead on superior boxing skill. He is unbeaten since April 11, 1986, when he lost a decision in Sydney to Jeff Fenech.

Since beating Banke, Zaragoza has beaten Frankie Duarte at the Forum and Chan-Yong Park in Seoul.

If Banke wins tonight, he’ll stay busy. He would inherit a mandatory defense of the title against another South Korean, Seung-Hoon Lee.


Beyond that, however, Banke’s manager, Bob Richardson, has another game plan, if he’s successful tonight. He wants to move Banke up to featherweight to meet International Boxing Federation champion Jorge Paez.

In tonight’s co-feature former WBC super-flyweight champion Gilberto Roman (53-5-1) of Mexicali fights Mike Phelps (29-2-1) of Galena Park, Tex.

Roman, 28, is on a comeback. In Mexico City in November, he was knocked down five times and beaten badly by Ghanan Nanu Konadu, who took Roman’s super-flyweight title.

Roman has been the super-flyweight champion twice and could win it a third time. If he’s successful tonight, he gets champion Moon Sung-Kil, who stopped Konadu in his first title defense.