by Dennis Principe
JUST like compatriot Manny Pacquiao, young Filipino prospect is setting his sights at winning a world crown in the tough junior welterweight division.
But while Pacquiao can easily get an instant title shot anytime he wants, Pagara is willing to bide his time and wait for the right opportunity.
The 26-year-old Pagara’s first step towards making a name in this division will start Saturday night when the Cagayan de Oro City native stakes his WBO junior welterweight crown against Mario “Rocky” Meraz of Mexico in a 12-round bout to be held at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu.
“I’m ready to fight for a world championship but I’m willing to wait for the proper time. I leave it all up to my manager and promoter,” said Pagara.
During the official weigh-in Friday night at the Robinson’s Mall, both Pagara and Meraz tallied 139lbs or one pound under the junior welterweight limit of 140lbs.
“I’m excited about this fight. I have prepared really hard and well and I know that I am in great shape because I never had any issue with my diet,” said Pagara.
While he assured he is not looking past Meraz, Pagara is already excited about the prospect of trading leathers with the world’s best boxers in this division which is also reportedly being eyed by Pacquiao to be his next destination.
Reports have it that Pacquiao. who is currently the WBO welterweight champion, wants to score an explosive victory for his next fight and that this is highly possible if he moves down in weight and fight one of the champions at 140.
Among those Pagara is eyeing as potential opponents are former world champions Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios and Russian Ruslan Provodnikov.
But first things first, Pagara needs to get past Meraz in spectacular fashion to be able to realize that plan.
The Baja California-native Meraz holds a record of 20 wins and three losses spiked with 16 stoppages.
Now on a five-fight winning run, Meraz will be fighting outside of Mexico for the first time in his seven-year pro career.
“I trained for three months for this fight. For sure it’s going to be a knockout, either me or Pagara,” said Meraz.
Dubbed “Pinoy Pride 26: Fists of the Future”, the card will also feature Pagara’s younger brother Albert who will face another Mexican Hugo Partida in a 12-round battle for the IBF Intercontinental super bantamweight belt.
Also seeing action is two-time world title challenger AJ “Bazooka” Banal in a 10-round non-title brawl opposite emerging undefeated Indonesian star Defry Palulu who has stopped nine of his 10 opponents in as many bouts.