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Friday, July 15, 2016

Review: Pinoy Pride 37 Albert Pagara vs Cesar Juarez

On an ecstatic Saturday night, few days removed from the 4th July celebration, the Filipino-American crowd at the San Mateo Event Center in California was silenced by a thundering punch combination from tough and rugged Mexican Cezar Juarez that sent "Prince" Albert Pagara down to the canvas for good. A painful first career loss of a promising Filipino prospect is often tagged as the next big thing in Philippine boxing.

Pagara (26-1, 18 KOs) was in control early in the fight. He scored the first knockdown of the fight in the very first round. Pagara landed a counter left hook that betrayed Juarez his knees.

But I know Juarez very well. He will get up.

Juarez (18-5, 14 KOs) found notoriety when got up several times from the floor and mounted a spirited rally in the second half of the fight against Fil-Am Nonito Donaire when they fought in Puerto Rico. Donaire survived Juarez's rally and won on three scorecards.

The knockdown boasted Pagara's confidence. But Pagara went to the neutral corner obviously aware of how tough Juarez is, and expecting Juarez to continue. As expected, Juarez got up and ready to continue but the bell sounded signaling the end of the first round.

In the second round, Pagara is still in control. He landed clear counters, as Juarez continued pressing forward.

In the succeeding rounds, Juarez was able to pin Pagara to the ropes and landed power shots to Pagara's head and body. Although Pagara connected a few good counters too, those counters didn't have enough power to deterred Juarez's attacks. It seemed Juarez's body punches took the steam out from Pagara's punches.

In the 7th round, Juarez mounted an all-out attack that pinned Pagara to the corner. Juarez poured power shots that Pagara tried to block but few landed. Pagara managed to escape from the corner to his left, but he was caught with a solid punch escaping out. He was stunned!

He was cornered again to the ropes and fighting using the famed rope-a-dope technique, but obviously, he didn't have enough toughness to withstand more power shots from Juarez. He managed to escape again and landed few counters that momentarily stopped Juarez on his track. But Juarez came back strong and finished the round having Pagara again pinned to the ropes, landing power shots.

In the eighth round, Juarez came out smoking. Pagara, obviously, still trying to recover from the rough seventh round, was greeted by a combination of power shots that sent Pagara crashing to the floor. He tried to get up, but he was not able to make it.

A gruesome scene followed. Pagara was taken out of the ring through a stretcher and was sent to a nearby hospital. He was later cleared from any life-threatening injuries. But Pagara was advised to take a two-month break from boxing.

“Naunahan lang po ako! (He just got me first.)”, said Pagara of his 8th round knockout defeat against Juarez.

One thing I noticed on Pagara throughout the course of the fight. He was actually battling distraction throughout the fight. I noticed from Round 1 that he kept on clearing his hair with his right hand. The Justin Bieber-inspired haircut didn't do good on Pagara while battling the toughest opponent of his career. His hair draped down to his eyes distracting his focus. Instead of finding an opportunity to land a counter right hand--instead, he's using the right hand to clear his hair that obstructed his vision.

A loss may not define a boxing career. But on how a devastating first loss is being taken. If the young Pagara takes it positively and moves on from there. I'm sure he'll come back stronger and better than his last win.

Juarez, on the other hand, could be well in place to secure a rematch with Donaire. Donaire was also at ringside serving as a commentator for Philippine broadcast media.

Dodong Donaire, father, and trainer of Nonito told that ABS-CBN is willing to broadcast a rematch between Donaire and Juarez.

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