ALA delivers a knockout show
Photos by JHAY OTAMIAS/ PHILBOXING.COM
THE inaugural venture of ALA Promotions into the fiercely competitive boxing market in the United States was a rousing success from the standpoint of the interest it generated, mainly in the Fil-Am media in the West Coast, and even in the international and Philippine media, largely due to the support of the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN and its multiple platforms, including the widely watched The Filipino Channel, which was a partner in the event.
It took two years for the youthful and hardworking President and CEO of ALA Promotions in Michael Aldeguer to go through the process of obtaining a promoter’s license from the California State Athletic Commission, which in itself was a historic first.
While he was working on obtaining a promoter’s license, Aldeguer was hammering out the details of the fight card and the various activities that are a part and parcel of a US promotion, with the help of ABS-CBN, TFC and the man, whose vision encouraged the creation of the hugely successful “Pinoy Pride” series, the sports consultant of the network and the voice of ABS-CBN, Peter Musgni.
With consistent support from the internationally known internet site philboxing.com, as well as Viva Sports’ boxingmirror.com and other boxing internet sites, the interest in the fight card at the StubHub Center in Carson City, California, grew.
The key to success was the matchmaking, where, as Aldeguer pointed out, “we got tough fights for all.”
In the main event, World Boxing Organization light flyweight champion Donnie “Ahas” Nietes, the longest-reigning Filipino world champion, put his title on the line against Mexican champion Juan “Pinky” Alejo, who had a record of 21-3 with 13 knockouts and was rated No. 8 in the world.
Two other promising young fighters, whom Dodong Donaire, the trainer/father of five-division world champion Nonito Donaire said are “the future of Philippine boxing,” and on the threshold of becoming world champions -- undefeated International Boxing Federation International super bantamweight champion Prince Albert Pagara and unbeaten IBF Youth world champion Mark Magsayo, faced experienced and explosive opponents.
The 21-year-old Prince Albert Pagara, who had a record of 24-0 with 17 knockouts, battled Nicaraguan southpaw William Gonzales, an aggressive, hard-hitting veteran, who had a record of 23 knockouts in 27 wins with 5 losses and was coming off a sensational seventh-round TKO of heavily-fancied Cornelius Lock last May 9, 2014, whom he dropped three times in the round to carve a name for himself.
The 20-year-old Magsayo, who boasted of an unbeaten record of 11-0 with 9 knockouts, battled undefeated Mexican slugger Yardley Suarez, who had registered 8 knockouts in 13 wins and had vowed to stop Magsayo within two rounds, boasting: “I have power in both hands. If I hit him in the body or chin he will go down. “
The tough talk didn’t mean a thing to Magsayo who, according to ALA Gym head trainer Edito Villamor, was “magnificent in sparring” against Mexican Olympic boxers and Russian and Japanese fighters at the Wild Card Gym.
Prince Albert’s older brother Jason Pagara, who is rated No. 2 in the world by the WBO, was considered a question mark in his clash with Santos Benavides, a southpaw slugger from Nicaragua, but put on a surprisingly focused and aggressive performance to gain the recognition he failed to get in his last fight in Dubai against Ramiro Alcaraz, even though he came away with an eighth-round technical decision due to a cut suffered by Alcaraz.
Nonito Donaire, who did the TV coverage alongside Dyan Castillejo, enthused over “the great fight card” and singled out the Pagaras and Magsayo for their explosive performances.
Both Nonito and his father agreed that Prince Albert, who is ranked No. 3 by the IBF, could beat IBF champion Carl Frampton and WBA champion Scott Quigg of Britain.
“Overall, it was more than I expected,” said Aldeguer, pointing to the fact that “we got tough fights for all because we knew it was our first event in the US, which is considered the Mecca of boxing, where lot of people understand the sport and were watching. We need to build it up, work around this card.”
Aldeguer also said that Prince Albert Pagara “can beat most world champions in his weight division,” but conceded that “nobody can beat (Guillermo) Rigondeaux.”
The young boxing executive wants the top ALA boxers to spend more time in Los Angeles for its variety of sparring partners and good exposure.
As for a title fight for Prince Albert, “if it comes, it will come but not right away. We need to work on the program.”
He plans to have fight cards in the first week of April in partnership with TFC in San Diego and another card in the Los Angeles area in June,.
“They won’t really be big fights yet. It’s something we want to build. I’ve always said it’s a long-term program,” said Aldeguer, who is hoping that the following in the US will grow by word of mouth and through the social media, similar to the epic movie General Luna, whose attendance in movie houses in the Philippines grew substantially.
Just over 3,000 flag-waving, cheering Filipinos bought tickets for the fights which actually featured only five fights. The Stub Hub Center seats around 8,000, but it certainly wasn’t bad for a first endeavor.
He said people can also watch the fights on TV, even as he mentioned the habit of Filipinos “who like to watch in their homes on pay-per-view Filipino style where they gather a group and watch in their homes.”
He wants Filipinos in the US to realize: “It’s something different to look for. We need to educate them that Pinoy Pride is really ours.”