A THUNDEROUS roar fit for a conquering king welcomed ‘Prince’ Albert Pagara as he returned to his roots, Maasin City, Southern Leyte, in the latest edition of the popular boxing series Pinoy Pride. Pagara’s folks packed the gym to the rim and the ‘Prince’ did not disappoint as he gave a hapless Laryea Gabriel Odoi of Ghana a royal mugging.
Going into the fight, Pagara had racked up three straight victories since suffering a numbing loss to Mexican brawler Cesar Juarez in July 2016. Pagara floored Juarez in the opening round and was ahead in the scorecards when he ran out of steam and capitulated in the eighth stanza. The loss was Pagara’s first defeat as an amateur or pro and it left his confidence in shambles.
Pagara returned to the ring in November 2016 and was a mere shadow of his old self in hammering out a lackluster decision win over Raymond Commey. The extra luggage around the waist was evident and he was tentative to throw leather. Pagara’s punches lacked their usual snap and authority.
It was not until Pagara faced Odoi that the eye of the tiger resurfaced. Pagara showed up in excellent condition and punched with bad intentions. Pagara hurt Odoi with a solid right in the opening round and knocked him down in the second round with a left hook. In the third round, a left hook to the body coupled by a right straight from Pagara dumped Odoi in a corner. Odoi got up, but he was being fed with a steady diet of power shots from Pagara when his trainer decided to throw in the white towel of surrender.
Pagara improved his record to 30-1 with 21 knockouts and handed Odoi (20-4, 14 knockouts) his first knockout defeat. With Pagara appearing to have regained some of his old fire, the time has come for him to take on a more formidable challenge.
From where this writer sits, Juarez is the natural choice. There is no better way for Pagara to regain his confidence than to beat the man who took it away from him.
Juarez (22-6, 17 knockouts) remains a force to be reckoned with in the junior featherweight (122 lbs.) division despite his knockout loss to hard-hitting Ghanaian Isaac Dogboe last January for the interim World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight crown. Juarez was competitive in the fight and not a few thought the stoppage was premature.
Juarez’s relentless assaults and resiliency remain his primary weapons against Pagara. In fact, Juarez did not dwell on the loss to Dogboe as he racked up two straight knockout wins within a span of two months.
Pagara, 24, is being penciled to fight again in August in the undercard of the Donnie Nietes-Aston Palicte fight for the vacant WBO junior bantamweight (115 lbs.) crown. It remains to be seen if the rematch with Juarez can be worked out within the limited time frame, but the encore is really inevitable.
Pagara needs to get past Juarez if he is to fully erase the stigma of the knockout loss he suffered two years ago. He needs to beat Juarez to convince fight fans that he is now capable of beating an adversary who offers more than a pulse.
Juarez is the lingering nightmare that Pagara must finally confront.