By Dennis Principe
CEBU City - WBO International junior welterweight champion Jason "El Nino" Pagara kept his belt by dominating a game but outclassed Mario "Rocky" Meraz of Mexico Saturday night at the Waterfront Hotel.
Being the more skillful boxer, Pagara dominated most of the exchanges and started to take charge when he floored Meraz with a well-timed right to the jaw in the first round.
Looking more surprised than dazed, Meraz stood up and was able to finish the round.
In the succeeding rounds, Pagara stepped up the action by throwing more uppercuts and left hooks while Meraz tried to counter with left hooks of his own.
Towards the end of the fourth, Pagara again dropped Meraz with a left hook to the jaw.
The Mexican immediately stood up at the count of three and seemed fine as he responded to referee Danrex Tapdasan.
However, Tapdasan immediately waved off the fight that surprised Meraz and his corner.
"His eyes rolled and I could have actually stopped it earlier but I gave him his chance. He was really groggy at that point," said Tapdasan.
Official time was 2:59 of the fourth round.
"I knew I could knock him out but I was also aware that he can take a punch so I took my time. I have to admit I got hurt by a right in that fourth round but I prepared myself really well and is in shape to cope up with that," said Pagara.
The win raises Pagara's record to 34-2 with 21 knockouts while Meraz drops to 20-4, 16 KO's.
In the supporting main event, Jason's younger brother Albert floored another Mexican opponent, Hugo Partida, three times in the opening round and scored a first round TKO to snatch the vacant International Boxing Federation (IBF) Intercontinental super bantamweight crown.
Two-time world title challenger AJ "Bazooka" Banal (31-2-1, 22 KO's) survived a first round knockdown and floored Indon Defry Palulu (10-1, 9 KO's) for good at 2:59 of the second round with a vicious left hook to the body.