MANILA, Philippines – Young Filipino boxer Jason Pagara took the time to study his opponent, Mexico's Mario Meraz, prior to their Pinoy Pride 26 showdown, and his diligence paid off as he won via technical knockout to retain his light-welterweight belt.
In an entertaining, back-and-forth affair, Pagara knocked Meraz down in the first round, battled through the Mexican’s counter-punching in the second and third, before finally unleashing a barrage of punches in the fourth that sent Meraz to the canvas again.
Meraz was able to beat the 10-count, but the referee saw that his legs were unsteady and called a stop to the contest, giving Pagara the TKO win.
"Sinabihan ako ng coach, 'yung unang round, kumpyansa lang," Pagara said after the fight. "Tingnan mo lang ‘yung kalaban mo, kung paano gumalaw."
"Tiningnan naman namin 'yung laban niya sa DVD," Pagara revealed. "Kaya sa akin, relax lang."
Meraz did get some good shots in, visibly wobbling Pagara with several counter-right hands in the second and third rounds, and the Filipino later admitted that he did feel "groggy."
But having done his homework on his opponent, Pagara said he never felt he was in trouble.
"Nag-relax lang ako kasi kayang-kaya ko naman 'yung kalaban, kasi tinitingnan ko naman 'yung mga laban nya sa DVD," he explained.
Prior to Pagara's bout, his younger brother, Albert, registered a knockout victory of his own against Hugo Partida, stopping his foe in the very first round.
Pagara could not replicate his brother's first-round knockout win, but he was confident that he could stop Meraz.
"Groggy na siya, one round pa lang groggy na siya," Pagara said. "Sinusundan ko lang hanggang fourth round, ayun, bumagsak na. Wala na, tinigil na ng referee."
Pagara hiked his record to 34 wins with two losses, with 21 wins coming by knockout. He retained his WBO international light-welterweight title.