Finally, a test for Pagara

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Ed C. Tolentino

Ed C. Tolentino

ALA Boxing Promotions started something that Filipino boxing fans hope will become a permanent fixture.

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In April, the head honchos at ALA paired unbeaten prospect Mark Magsayo with former world title contender Chris “Hitman” Avalos. While Avalos had failed in a previous attempt at the super bantamweight crown, not a few thought he was still good enough to give Magsayo a serious run for his money.

True enough, Avalos floored Magsayo in the third round before capitulating in the sixth stanza. It was a hell of a brawl, and one that only came into fruition because ALA decided to finally test Magsayo’s mettle.

On July 9, “Prince” Albert Pagara, another ALA prospect, will dive into shark-infested waters when he takes on Mexican Cesar Juarez in a 10-rounder at the San Mateo Event Center, San Mateo, California. Pagara (26-0, 18 knockouts) has never tasted defeat as an amateur or pro and is ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in the 122-pound division,. Then again, Pagara has never really been tested in six years in the punch-for-pay business.

Juarez, 17-5 with 13 knockouts, showed what he is capable of doing in the ring when he nearly defeated Nonito Donaire Jr. last December for the vacant WBO super bantamweight crown. In a brawl that merited Fight of the Year nomination, Juarez survived two trips to the canvas in the fourth round and engaged Donaire in a brutal war of attrition the rest of the way.

Donaire won on points, but he later admitted to the media that he would have lost the fight had it gone beyond 12 rounds. “The guy was strong,” Donaire told ESPN. “I think that was the toughest fight I’ve ever been in my life.”

Juarez returned to the ring in March and dropped a razor-close split decision to Giovanni Delgado. The heart-breaking loss aside, Juarez figures to be pumped up when he meets Pagara, knowing very well that it’s another chance to beat a high-profile Filipino adversary.

The 24-year-old Juarez, who has never been stopped in his career, is a bulldozer in the ring. The Mexican does not honor any stop light and just barges in. He will put the pressure on Pagara and it will be interesting to see how the Filipino will respond. One thing for sure, Pagara will have to be in tip-top shape opposite Juarez. The Mexican takes no quarters and even comes out inexplicably strong in the second half of the fight.

Juarez is a known slow-starter and has in fact been knocked down early in his fights against Donaire, Jorge Lara and Edgar Lozano, but on each occasion he came roaring back like a man possessed. Pagara has promised to use his speed and power come fight time, but against a slugger like Juarez, the Filipino will have to show up with a warrior’s heart, too.

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For comments, the writer can be reached at atty_eduardo@yahoo.com,

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