DAVAO CITY - World-ranked Jason 'El Nino' Pagara and Genesis 'Azukal' Servania remained in the hunt for a world title shot in their respective weight divisions by posting contrasting victories on Saturday night before a packed University of Southeastern Philippines gym.
Headlining the latest offering of ‘Pinoy Pride 29,’ ABS-CBN and Ala Boxing Promotions' popular boxing show, Pagara blew away Mexican Cesar ‘El Dolar’ Chavez inside two rounds to retain his World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight (140 pounds) championship.
The 26-year-old Pagara started out like a house on fire, flooring a pudgy Chavez (23-8, 11 knockouts) twice in the first round with vicious body shots. Chavez barely survived the round but his fate was sealed in the second round, when a huge left hook corkscrewed Chavez’s head and sent him crashing to the canvas.
Referee Bruce McTavish wisely stopped the contest at the 1:56 mark of the round.
Ranked No. 4 by the WBO, Pagara raised his record to 35-2 with 22 knockouts. The WBO throne has recently been declared vacant and Pagara trails in the rankings former champion Chris Algieri, Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov.
It’s a tough bunch, but a more intriguing foe for Pagara is World Boxing Association (WBA) regular jr. welterweight champ Jesse Vargas, who the Filipino recently challenged to a duel. Vargas is undefeated in 26 fights but has tallied only nine knockouts. The American barely retained the title in his last defense in November against hard-punching Mexican Antonio DeMarco.
In the supporting main event, the WBO’s No.1 ranked junior featherweight (122 pounds) Servania settled for a 12-round unanimous decision win over Mexican Juan Luis ‘Black Pearl’ Hernandez to keep his WBO Intercontinental junior featherweight crown.
Servania struggled offensively as Hernandez proved too slippery a foe. Hernandez injured his right hand in the second round, but Servania failed to capitalize as he hesitated to go full throttle on offense.
Hernandez landed some nifty three-punch counter combinations in the middle rounds before Servania took control in the last three rounds. All three judges tabbed Servania the winner by lopsided scores of 118-110, 119-109 and 117-111, but not a few thought the score should have been closer.
Servania, who improved to 26-0 with 11 knockouts, looms as the mandatory contender to reigning champion Guillermo Rigondeux, arguably the slickest counterpuncher in the division.
Servania may not be ready at this stage for a fighter like Rigondeux, but there are reports brewing that the Cuban may soon vacate the throne to move up in weight. If this happens, Servania may end up fighting the unbeaten but relatively inexperienced Jessie Magdaleno, who is ranked No. 2 by the WBO.
In other major results, WBO No. 4 junior bantamweight contender ‘King’ Arthur Villanueva decisioned former WBO flyweight champion Julio Cesar ‘Pingo’ Miranda in 10 rounds to stay unbeaten in 27 fights.
Power-punching prospect ‘Magnifico’ Mark Magsayo also stayed undefeated in 10 fights with eight knockouts when he bamboozled Thai Sukkasem Kiethyonguth in five rounds of a featherweight (126 pounds) contest. A wicked overhand right from Magsayo nearly sent the Thai out of the ring in the fatal fifth.
The next edition of Pinoy Pride will be held on March 28 and will be headlined by WBO light flyweight king Donnie Nietes and the comebacking Nonito Donaire Jr.