Filipino pugs face no patsies in United States slugfest
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines –  ALA stable owner Tony Aldeguer won’t be at the StubHub Center in Carson City, California, for the first-ever Filipino boxing promotion in the US tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time) but he’s closely monitoring developments of the historic venture from his home and office in Cebu.

Aldeguer would’ve flown to Carson City to witness “Pinoy 33 – Filipinos Contra Latinos” but had to stay behind because of business commitments. His son Michael, president of ALA Promotions, is taking care of things Stateside. Aldeguer’s wife Lou and sister Lally took a flight to Los Angeles yesterday to be at ringside for the show featuring WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes against Mexico’s Juan Alejo in the main event.

“Michael is in charge of sales, marketing and promotions,” said Aldeguer. “I just watch over the training of our fighters. This isn’t an easy business project. Initially, our plan was to hold small cards in San Diego and San Francisco preparatory to a big promotion in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. But Dubai came up last August so we delayed our entry into the US market. Before we knew it, the year was coming to a close and the opportunity to promote in Carson City came along so we decided to go for it.”

Aldeguer said the ALA Group found out soon enough how difficult it is to do a boxing promotion on its own in the US. “First, we had to fly over our staff to work on the project,” he said. “Then, the foreign fighters asked to be paid tax free so we had to add on the 30 percent tax for us to shoulder. We’re also not familiar with the US market. Donnie isn’t known to Americans. He’s not a Manny Pacquiao but we want to introduce him to American fans as an exciting fighter.”

In Dubai where ALA staged a successful second promotion last August, Aldeguer said only 50 percent of tickets had been sold two days before the show. “We know the mentality of the Filipino market,” he said. “The fans buy tickets at the last minute. Luckily, the Dubai show was jampacked on fight night and the stadium had a capacity of 5,000. We don’t know how we’ll do with ticket sales at the StubHub Center. Some friends from Las Vegas are driving to Carson City to watch and I’m told Filipinos in Los Angeles are coming in full force to support our fighters. This is a 100 percent Filipino venture. Top Rank isn’t involved. We’re doing this on our own and we’re grateful to ABS-CBN for its support through The Filipino Channel. This wouldn’t be possible without the backing of ABS-CBN.”

Aldeguer said he’s watching the fights live on SkyCable starting at 7 tomorrow morning. The feed is free of charge. “The boys are all hyped up and ready for the fights,” he said. “Their training has been great. In Manila, we find it difficult to bring over high-quality fighters on a regular basis but in the US, tough opponents are lining up for us. There are no patsies in the show. I realize it’s a gamble particularly for our unbeaten prospects but this is a test. I’ve always believed it’s better to lose early in your career than later.”

Aside from Nietes, the other ALA fighters in the card are unbeaten superbantamweight “Prince” Albert Pagara, unbeaten featherweight Mark Magsayo and superlightweight Jason Pagara. Albert, 21, has a 24-0 record with 17 KOs and faces Nicaragua’s William Gonzalez whose mark is 27-5 with 23 KOs. Magsayo, 20, totes an 11-0 slate and takes on Mexico’s Yardley Suarez who’s also undefeated with a 13-0 record including 8 KOs. It’s Magsayo’s first fight overseas. Jason, 23, is 36-2 with 22 KOs and battles Nicaragua’s Santos Benavides whose record is 25-7-2 with 19 KOs.

“Magsayo is one of the most talented and athletic fighters in our gym today,” said Aldeguer. “He’s got a bright future but he’s up against an unbeaten Mexican with knockout power. Magsayo is still young, quite immature. He may be more skilled and talented than Jason or Albert but what I like about the Pagara brothers is they know how to win. Magsayo is explosive and sensational. I’m anxious to find out how he’ll do against Suarez.”

As for Albert, Aldeguer said depending on how he performs against Gonzalez, the Prince may be up against Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. of Puerto Rico or Mexican legend Fernando Montiel next. “I don’t think fighting (Guillermo) Rigondeaux is an option at the moment,” said Aldeguer. “Not too many fighters are willing to face Rigondeaux. Both Vazquez and Montiel are former world champions so either could be a good test for Albert looking forward to a title shot.”

Aldeguer said Jason is in a tough division where the likes of Viktor Postol, Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysee campaign. “It’s important that Jason has focus,” he said. “When he fought (Rosbel) Montoya in 2011, he lost because he wasn’t focused. Jason had personal problems. But he got back on track to beat Montoya in a rematch. What’s next for Jason will depend on his performance against Benavides.”

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