Pagara caps night of KOs in Pinoy Pride
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2014 - 12:00am

CEBU CITY , Philippines   â€“ After a string of sensational knockouts earlier in the evening, the referee used his judgment to put a halt to the main bout at the packed ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel here.

Filipino Jason Pagara floored Mexican Mario Meraz in the opening round. But as the crowd cried for the finishing blows, the game challenger managed to stand his ground.

Pagara landed his best punches on Meraz in the succeeding rounds but got caught with few good shots as well, including a right straight that staggered the Filipino early in the fourth.

It was a clear sign that the Mexican, after taking countless shots to the head, isn’t done yet. He kept looking for the lucky punch that would have turned things around.

But Pagara found another opening and landed a barrage of punches. He had Meraz against the ropes and threw everything he got, at one point tilting the head of the Mexican backwards.

The Mexican went down for a second time, and the Filipino referee, Danrex Tapdasan, started to count. Meraz was up on his feet, facing the referee by the count of eight.

Everybody thought the fight would roll on to the fifth round but Tapdasan, a lawyer, thought Meraz was no longer fit to continue. He signaled the end of the fight.

Meraz was stunned by the referee’s move. He spread his arms as if questioning the decision. Even the crowd briefly went on a silent mode.

Pagara would have knocked Meraz out anyway had the referee allowed the fight to continue. But Tapdasan, an experienced referee, had other things in mind.

Pagara’s hands were raised and he kept his WBO International light-welterweight title. Officially, he was a winner by technical knockout in the 2:59 mark of the fourth round.

“When you stop a fight, you don’t’ just look at the moment but the totality of the fight – what happened in the previous rounds and what would have happened,” said Tapdasan.

In the first round, the referee said Meraz took as many as 10 “thudding blows” to the head, adding that he could have stopped it right then and “things would have looked better.”

But he let the fight go on, and while Meraz landed some solid shots, Tapdasan said Pagara was outpunching the Mexican by a ratio of 10:2.

“When he got hit in the fourth round, I saw his eyes roll. And when he was knocked down the second time, his eyes were blank. So, I stopped the fight. Another blow and he could have been killed,” he said.

 â€œThose were thudding shots to the head and remember these are 140-pound fighters using eight-ounce gloves. We don’t want a tragedy. I wanted Meraz to go home to his family safely and fight another day,” Tapdasan added.

Pagara, now 34-2-0, was happy with his performance, saying he knew all along he could handle Meraz.

“When he went down I knew I had him. I was hurt but he was more hurt,” said the 22-year-old Pagara.

The president of the ALA Promotions said Pagara needs to campaign in the United States from now on, and seek the big fights.

“This is not it yet for him,” said Aldeguer.

Another Pagara, 20-year-old Albert, was more impressive in the Pinoy Pride 26 presentation Saturday night. He knocked out Hugo Partida of Mexico in the 1:18 mark of the opening round.

Partida went down early, took a standing eight count next and went down for good after taking a left hook from Albert, who on the eve of the fight vowed to score a knockout.

He did it without any help from the referee, Bruce McTavish, who was already waving his hands as Partida was hitting the canvas for the last time.

There was no need to count.

“I’m so happy. Finally I have a belt,” said Albert, now the IBF junior-featherweight champion and undefeated in 21 fights.

In the other bouts of the evening, AJ “Bazooka” Banal survived a flash knockdown in the first round before stopping Defry Palulu in the 2:59 mark of the opening round.

Banal hammered the Indonesian with heavy blows to the side of the body to score the knockout.

Jimrex Jaca floored Japan’s Masayoshi Kotake in the first round, and was on his way to a victory when an accidental clash of heads in the third round opened a huge cut over Jaca’s right eye.

The bout ended in a technical draw and Jaca left the ring disappointed and bleeding.

Elmo Traya also knocked out his Japanese opponent with a prosthetic leg in the first round. Naozumi Tsuchiyama went down three times in the first round and bowed out amid cheers from the crowd.

Richard Barrios and Lester Pronco delivered a fight worth watching, and the former scored a unanimous decision after scoring a knockdown in the seventh round.

Pinoy Pride 26 was a knockout.

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