Magsayo impresses Lennon
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2015 - 10:00am

Of the ALA fighters who displayed their wares in the “Pinoy Pride 33” bill at the StubHub Center in Carson City, California, last Saturday night, it was unbeaten Mark (Magnifico) Magsayo who impressed Showtime ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. the most.

Lennon actually offered his services to ALA Boxing president Michael Aldeguer as ring announcer for the first-ever Filipino promotion held in the US. Lennon’s presence added another stamp of class to the event.

“Lennon told Michael that he was very impressed with Mark,” said Aldeguer’s father Tony who is known as ALA, the initials of his full name Antonio Lopez Aldeguer. “Lennon predicted a great future for Magsayo and will follow his career.” The ALA patriarch skipped going to Carson City because of business commitments in Cebu where he watched the fights on TV.

Lennon, representing Showtime, and Michael Buffer, representing HBO, were the co-ring announcers in the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas this year. Lennon’s father Jimmy Sr. was a renowned ring announcer himself who was a fixture in major boxing and wrestling cards in Los Angeles for decades.

In the Carson card, Magsayo, 20, made short work of Mexico’s Yardley Suarez who was stopped in the first round. The high school graduate from Bohol raised his record to 12-10, with 10 KOs. Suarez entered the fight with an unblemished record of 13-0, with 8 KOs, and was touted to be an acid test for Magsayo but proved to be no match. Magsayo threw rapid-fire combinations from short range and showed a high rate of accuracy in mowing down Suarez without a sweat.

* * * *

“I was worried about Magsayo and Albert Pagara because they were up against tough foes,” admitted Aldeguer. “But they were very impressive with their KO wins.” Aldeguer said there’s no question that Magsayo is one of the most talented and explosive fighters in the ALA stable today. Maturity, however, is something that Magsayo needs to gain with experience. Against Suarez, Magsayo was like a bull on a rampage. Suarez never knew what hit him. Magsayo, a crowd darling, did a backflip to cap his sensational performance.

As for Pagara, he faced dangerous Nicaraguan William Gonzalez who showed up with a 27-5 record, including 23 KOs. Pagara blasted Gonzalez into submission at 2:20 of the sixth round. He could’ve finished him off earlier but Gonzalez got a reprieve in the second canto when referee Jack Reiss ordered a respite. Gonzalez went down from a body shot and took an extra right hook to the side of the face as he sat on the canvas. Reiss gave Gonzalez up to five minutes to recover but didn’t deduct a point from Pagara. Reiss explained he gave Pagara the benefit of the doubt as it appeared that Gonzalez was on his way up and could’ve tried to avoid a mandatory eight-count.

Pagara’s older brother Jason joined the knockout parade with a second round demolition of Santos Benavides of Nicaragua.

In the main event, WBO lightflyweight champion Donnie Nietes trounced Mexican challenger Juan Alejo to score a convincing win by a unanimous decision. Nietes would’ve also notched a knockout but hurt his right hand in the third round. Alejo, however, was a durable customer and maybe, even if Nietes didn’t hurt his hand, he would’ve gone the distance anyway.

“I don’t think the injury is serious,” said Aldeguer. “It’s painful when it comes into contact with the head. No swelling, though. A fight against (Roman) Gonzalez might take a little while because of Donnie’s right hand. It’s the same injury he had when he fought (Francisco) Rodriguez last July.”

* * * *

Aldeguer referred to a dream fight against Gonzalez who retained his WBC flyweight crown via a ninth round stoppage of Brian Viloria in New York on the same night that Nietes crushed Alejo. Aldeguer said HBO approached his son Michael about the possibility of a Gonzalez-Nietes showdown earlier.

It was a proud moment for ALA to deliver the first 100 percent Filipino boxing promotion in the US. Aldeguer said the project was hatched, launched and staged by an entirely Filipino group without help from Top Rank or Golden Boy. He added that it wouldn’t have been possible without the backing of the ABS-CBN network and The Filipino Channel.

“It was really our plan for a long time to promote in the US after Boom Boom (Bautista) and A. J. Banal were released by Golden Boy in 2008,” said Michael. “We started working on the US license in 2010. It was a question in my mind all the time why we couldn’t promote in the US ourselves.”

Michael said referee Jack Reiss referred him to Andy Foster, the California State Athletic Commission executive director, to begin the spadework in 2011. “I knew it would take time to build our credibility first to really make it happen,” he continued. “It was also because of the support of Gabby and Raffy Lopez of ABS-CBN and The Filipino Channel that made the difference. Also, it’s a tribute to my father who founded ALA Boxing 25 years ago and how he built the name ALA. When I joined the ALA Boxing group in 2006, it was easier for me to implement the things I believed in because my father built the name of ALA already.”

ACIRC ALA ALDEGUER CARSON CITY FILIPINO CHANNEL GOLDEN BOY GONZALEZ JACK REISS LENNON MAGSAYO PAGARA
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