Super bantamweight (122 lbs.) prospect “Prince” Albert Pagara has never tasted defeat as an amateur or pro, but the jury is still out on his true worth because of the glaring absence of a quality adversary in his resume.
This weekend, the “Prince” hopes to convince many that he has royal bloodline flowing in his veins when he takes on Mexican hombre Cesar Juarez in a scheduled 12-rounder at the San Mateo Event Center, California that will headline the popular boxing card “Pinoy Pride.” The 22-year-old Pagara is already ranked No. 2 by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in the super bantamweight division, but the fight with Juarez figures to confirm if he deserves such a lofty ranking.
Juarez, 17-5 with 13 knockouts, is a six-year pro who burst into the consciousness of Filipino fight fans last December 11, when he rumbled with Filipino Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title. Donaire, Jr. got off to a rip-roaring start, flooring Juarez twice in the fourth round, but Juarez refused to budge and mounted a huge rally.
Juarez perpetually crowded Donaire, Jr. along the ropes and bombarded him with mean shots. Donaire Jr. won the fight by decision, but he admitted thereafter that Juarez gave him one of the toughest fights of his career. The Juarez-Donaire Jr. fight merited Fight of the Year nominations from boxing writers in the United States.
“Any moment in time, kung sino man yung boxer na nasa situation na ganun (facing Juarez’s relentless assaults), I am sure majority would have stopped and questioned himself, ” Donaire, Jr. told this writer.
While Juarez is coming off a razor-close split-decision loss to Giovanni Delgado in his last fight, he remains a legitimate threat. Juarez’s all five losses have been by decision only. He was knocked down by Donaire Jr., Edgar Lozano and Jorge Lara, but they all failed to keep him down for the 10-count. Juarez’s pressing style is complemented by his uncanny resiliency and stamina.
Pagara, 26-0 with 18 knockouts, is looking to take a page off the strategy Donaire Jr. used in the first half of his fight with Juarez. Donaire Jr. kept Juarez at bay in the early rounds by using a long, snappy left jab and lateral movements. Donaire Jr. also hurt Juarez with some good uppercuts before he injured his foot and was forced to slug it out. Pagara claims that he has been working overtime on perfecting his straight punches and uppercuts, and judging by how ripped he looks today, there is no doubt he also worked on his conditioning, too.
Juarez is a known slow starter so Pagara cannot afford to be complacent. Pagara must stick to the plan and avoid getting macho with the Mexican hombre. To his credit, Pagara has said that he is prepared for whatever Juarez will bring to the ring.
For the record, it was Pagara who asked for a fight with Juarez, with the end in view of proving the naysayers wrong. He got what he wished for, now is the time to prove that he can walk the talk.
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