I watched closely the fight between Jason Pagara and Cesar Juarez over the weekend and my thesis that the Mexican was a tough opponent proved right.
Juarez gave Nonito Donaire one of his hardest fights in December last year. Although Donaire was booed after the score cards was announced because some thought he lost, the Filipino was able to deck the Mexican twice and dominated the first six rounds before suffering an ankle injury that helped the Mexican to turn the tide. Whether Juarez was really a tough fighter or Donaire was already fading were questions that were left unanswered after their fight, until Pagara faced Juarez over the weekend, that eventually generated questions if the young Filipino boxer is ready to take on bigger fights at the international level.
After the Pagara-Juarez fight, it turned out Juarez was indeed a tough fighter and Donaire was not yet a fading boxer. And Pagara is not yet, well, ready to take on tougher opposition.
Up to this day, I keep wondering why Manny Pacquiao is most of the time being pitched as the sole standard for up-and-coming fighters to emulate when Donaire’s accomplishments and skill set cannot be overlooked. I’m not saying Pacquiao does not deserve the status he enjoys, but rather, hasn’t Donaire also proven to be the gold or silver standard that young fighters can aspire for, too?
In fact, the Juarez-Pagara fight also validated that Donaire is not yet far removed from the deadly form he possessed years back. The performances of Pagara and Donaire against Juarez were actually like day and night.
I actually shuddered at the thought of Pagara not being able to dispose Juarez within the first six rounds, because the Mexican proved in the Donaire fight that he could recover and sustain so much punishment.
While Pagara was able to knock Juarez in the first round with a left hook, the Mexican started to turn the tide from the second round by landing combinations on the Filipino.
By the sixth round, Pagara had lost the fight because he could not match the Mexican’s output in terms of volume and power.
So what becomes of Pagara after his loss?
He can still recover but the loss exposed chinks in his armor that will surely be exploited by the opposition. It is hard to say if the so-so opposition fed to Pagara prior to the Juarez fight was to blame, because Pacquiao and Donaire also faced many no-name opponents before their big fights.
Heck, even Mike Tyson beat a lot of tomato cans and cream puffs on his run to the championship!
Maybe boxing trainers and managers should make sure their wards are ready to take really tough opposition anytime. Maybe Pagara wasn’t ready for that yet, or maybe he wasn’t destined to be like Pacquiao or Donaire.
Before losing to Juarez, I was hoping Pagara would emulate Pacquiao and Donaire when both of them were in their early 20s.
Pacquiao was only 22 years old when he won the International Boxing Federation Super Bantamweight title from Lehlo Ledwaba on June 23, 2001 in what was his first fight in the United States, while Donaire was 24 years old when he beat Vic Darchinyan on July 7, 2007 to win the IBF World Flyweight Title. Donaire-Darchinyan 1 was awarded Knockout of the Year and Upset of the Year by The Ring magazine.
So Pagara’s loss to Juarez was a bitter pill to swallow. Even for me.