Sunday, March 26, 2023  |


Jason Pagara’s tough road back to contention runs through Japan

Photo by Ryan Songalia

MANILA, Philippines – After his disappointing draw against a late replacement last month, Jason Pagara will be in tough once again in his next fight, as he’s set to face undefeated contender Hiroki Okada on December 19 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan.

The older Pagara brother, now 29 (Albert, 23, is a junior featherweight contender), had just a year ago been the WBO’s No. 1 contender for the 140-pound title, but after 10 months out of the ring he slipped and was excluded from the top 15 in the latest WBO list.

Pagara (40-2-1, 25 knockouts) returned to the ring on September 16 in Cebu City, Philippines, against James Onyango, who took the fight on two weeks’ notice. Pagara scored two early knockdowns before being battered around the ring in the final rounds and settling for a draw with his home crowd chanting “Ken-ya!” — Onyango’s native country.

Michael Aldeguer, president of ALA Promotions, said Pagara had been inactive during that period “because he was always out of shape.”

“Jason knows what he has lost; he has not been in shape for a year and he has lost his focus,” said Aldeguer, who had previously stated there had been interest from Top Rank in bringing Pagara to the United States.

“We have a lot of fighters who deserve it more and he has to work his way back not just in the world ranking but as one of the fighters to be taken seriously in world level.”

Okada (16-0, 11 KOs) is ranked No. 7 by the WBO and is coming off back-to-back wins this year over Filipino boxers Rodel Wenceslao and Jheritz Chavez. All of Okada’s fights since turning pro in 2011 have taken place at Korakuen Hall.

Before that, a number of Pagara’s stablemates from the ALA Gym will return to action on the Pinoy Pride 43 card scheduled for November 25. The main event will feature Mark Magsayo (17-0, 13 KOs) against Japan’s Shota Hayashi (30-6-1, 18 KOs). Magsayo, a 22-year-old who is ranked No. 2 by the WBO and No. 7 by the WBC at 126 pounds, will have the hometown crowd behind him at Bohol Wisdom Gym in Tagbilaran City, Philippines.

Other fights scheduled include Albert Pagara (28-1, 19 KOs) against Tanzanian Mohammed Kambuluta (16-3, 5 KOs), plus Jeo Santisima (14-2, 12 KOs) against Kichang Kim (8-4-1, 2 KOs), both in 10-round junior featherweight fights.