Freeman Cebu Sports

Will the Stars Shine in PP35?


It may be a month away but I’m already looking forward to Pinoy Pride 35 as a way to kick off Cebu Boxing’s year with a bang. For the record, Cebu already had a boxing event last week, but let’s consider that a “soft” opening of sorts, shall we? Pinoy Pride 35 (on paper at least) is already bursting with excitement as it features what may be the future of Pinoy boxing. This is why it’s appropriately entitled “Stars of the Future.”

But why am I so excited? The irony of all this is that while we always drool at the main event fights or the top of the card match-ups, I’m actually more excited about the undercard. This is one card where the undercard fights might just fare better than the main or co-main event fights. But for proper protocol, we’ll have to cite Albert Pagara (25-0, 18KOs) going up against WBA No. 15 Yesner Talavera (15-3-1, 4KOs) of Nicaragua for the WBO Intercontinental superbantamweight title. Although ranked #15 in the WBA, I don’t think Talavera, Nicaragua’s bantamweight champion, will be a serious threat to Pagara. He’ll be another one of those tune-up victims of the so-called “Prince.” But I do hope that he gives Pagara a competitive fight to test the ALA Gym’s latest young prospect. I don’t think Pagara will be given a world title fight right after this fight as he’ll need to slowly but surely improve his craft, skills and maturity on the ring. As Aldub would say, sa “tamang panahon.” In the co-main event, Mark “El Magnifico” Magsayo (12-0-0, 10KOs) will meet Eduardo “Feirita” Montoya (17-4-1, 13KOs) of Mexico for the WBO Youth Featherweight belt. Again, another tune-up fight for the Tagbilaran kid. But we must also cite that the 13 knock-outs out of 17 wins of Montoya can’t be taken for granted even if they came against boxers with losing reccords. But Magsayo should win convincingly by KO. In another featured bout, Kevin “KJ” Cataraja (2-0-0, 2KOs) will face Chatpetch Por Pakdee of Thailand. We have no idea who this Thai boxer is, where he’s from and if he’s for real or from who know where? But we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Look for another KO for KJ. Pagara, Magsayo and Cataraja are the “stars of the future” who are groomed to take over from the fading boxers at the ALA Gym. It’s like a changing of the guard with the likes of AJ Banal and Rocky Fuentes doing their curtain calls and Milan Melindo just praying and hoping for the right breaks to go his way. Other boxers for the future include King Arthur Villanueva and Jason Pagara, while Donnie Nietes remains to be the ALA gym’s top boxer.

Now for the real excitement! Don’t look at the top. Look at the undercards and don’t be late since these will be the best fights of the night. For a change, ALA Promotions is pitting its young upstarts against legitimate and proven veterans. Melvin “El Gringo” Jerusalem (8-0,7KOs) faces former world champion Florante “Little Pacquiao” Condes (27-9-1, 23KOs). I don’t know what kind of shape Condes is in, but he is surely no slouch unless he’s so badly out of cash and needs to fight regardless of his fitness level. He was once considered as a legitimate world-class boxer at his prime, and getting the nickname “Little Pacquiao” already speaks for itself. Is Jerusalem up to the task? Is he ready for something this big? Condes was 2-1 in 2014 and didn't fight in 2015. But they’re fighting at 106 pounds which indicates that Condes is most likely in shape despite the lay-off. This will be a clash of heavy hitters and won’t go the distance. Then we have Jeo “Santino” Santisima (8-2, 7KOs) against Iligan City’s Marco Demecillo (21-4-1, 16KOs). This one is going to be a street brawl between bangers. Demecillo is a wily veteran brawler who prefers to chase his opponent and mix it up in the middle of the ring. He has fought in Mexico and Australia and has battled Arthur Villanueva in the past. Will Santisima do a King Arthur and box wisely or will we see an all-out bakbakan? And last but not least, Elmo “Bisdak” Traya (10-1, 8K)s) will face Romeo “Jako” Jakosalem (16-11-1, 8KOs) of Davao City. Jako is a journeyman of a boxer who has also been around from Korea to Australia, Thailand, China and Japan, but he has power and is tough to take down. He was even once an OPBF super lightweight champion. But for now, he’s more of a step up opponent for prospects across Asia. While Traya is favored to win, Jako will surely give him one great fight.

I just hope that nothing comes up between today and fight night. Contracts have been signed and the pressure is now on the shoulders of the young “stars of the future” of the ALA Gym to prove that they’re for real. On the other side, their opponents have nothing to lose as they go in with reckless abandon, knowing that they’re supposed to lose and serve as step-up or tune-up foes for the featured boxers.

Now this is what makes Pinoy Pride 35 something to look forward to. Some stars will shine. Some stars will fall.

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