Pagara ends hiatus vs. Villanueva on Nov. 5

THE last few years have been rough for Albert Pagara’s boxing career. Since a successful title defense of his World Boxing Organization (WBO) Inter-Continental super bantamweight title in 2018, Pagara’s promising boxing career has dwindled. He has fought scarcely in the last four years, just twice, and lost his lofty world rankings.

Today the 28-year-old Pagara, who is out to prove that he still has what it takes to be a champion, returns to the ring from a two-year hiatus and takes on Allan Villanueva in an eight-rounder light welterweight co-main event of Prime Stags Sports boxing at the Talisay Sports Complex in Talisay City, Cebu.

“I feel excited to throw punches already,” Pagara told SunStar Cebu. “What I can say to my opponent is that even though I haven’t stepped foot on the ring for two years, he shouldn’t underestimate me.”

Pagara last saw action on Dec. 18, 2020. He beat journeyman Virgil Puton via a convincing unanimous decision.

Villanueva, on the other hand, is currently in a slump, losing his last three contests. He lost to Carlo Bacaro by unanimous decision and to Tomjune Mangubat by a seventh round knockout last year. He was knocked out by Al Toyogon in the second round last Aug. 7 in a regional title fight.

For Pagara, this fight should dictate the future of his career, in which he plans to move down in weight and campaign at either super featherweight or lightweight.

“This is a very important fight for me. If God permits and I win this fight, I may be fighting for a bigger fight and hopefully become a champion again,” he said.

Pagara has a very impressive record of 33-1 with 23 knockouts, while the 26-year-old Villanueva is 11-3 with eight knockouts.

In the main event, undefeated prospect Kit Ceron Garces (4-0, 4 KOs) locks horns with Ian Donaire (4-1-1, 3 KOs) for the vacant World Boxing Federation (WBF) Australasian flyweight belt.

Garces just made his debut last year and his career is being fast-tracked as he fights for a regional belt for a minor boxing organization in just his fifth fight.

Garces is coming off an impressive first round technical knockout of Briel Ozaraga two months ago.

Donaire, in the meantime, returns from a three-year layoff. His last fight was back in 2019, wherein he knocked out Armando Yee in two rounds.

Garces is 4-0 with four knockouts, while Donaire is 4-1-1 with three knockouts.

In the undercard, Michael Adolfo (2-0, 1 KO) takes on Reycar Auxilio (3-1, 2 KOs); Marco Pomar (3-1, 2 KOs) locks horns with Belmar Plaza (4-14-3, 3 KOs); John Ver Espra (1-1, 1 KO) faces off with Richie Cacanog (1-0, 1 KO); Kier Torregosa (0-2-1) is up against Vince Mapait (0-1); John May Acope (2-1-1) squares off with Jomari Ladera (2-4, 1 KO); Speedy Boy Acope (1-0) trades leathers with Abelardo Yarte; Jhonro Taneo makes his pro debut against Cedie Noblefranca (0-9-1); John Mark Hechanova (0-1) slugs it out with George Sedillo (0-0-1); Frances Damloan (2-1) is fighting Royder Loyd Borbon (6-13-1, 6 KOs); John Kevin Jimenez (5-3) clashes with Mico Herrera; and Ken Albert Bilita opens up the show against fellow newcomer Dondie Lariosa.