Mexican warrior Cesar Juarez overcame a first-round knockdown and overpowered up-and-coming Filipino star Albert Pagara to win via stoppage in the main event of Pinoy Pride 37: Fists of the Future in San Mateo, California on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Juarez was sent to the canvas by a left hook to the jaw with less than 10 seconds to go in the first round, but got back up and became stronger as the fight went on, eventually crushing Pagara with his relentless activity.
The end came for Pagara early in the eighth round, when Juarez opened up the frame with a flurry of punches that caught the young Filipino off guard and pushed him right back into his corner.
Juarez landed three straight unanswered punches to open the eighth round, all hits landing flush to the head of Pagara, and the Filipino hit his corner and landed on the canvas. He tried to beat the 10-count, but could not even stand up and the fight was waved off.
The time of the stoppage was just 15 seconds into the eighth round.
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Pagara had to be stretchered out of the ring as he was down on the canvas for several minutes following the knockout.
It was a brutal lesson for the young Pagara, who was looking to defend his WBO intercontinental super bantamweight title and was favored to win against Juarez, who came in having lost back-to-back matches.
One of those fights was against Nonito Donaire last December 2015, wherein he engaged the "Filipino Flash" in a bloody war before losing a unanimous decision.
He got a measure of revenge as he dominated Pagara from the fourth round onwards, repeatedly pinning the Filipino on the ropes or in the corner and unloading punches. Pagara was still landing some hard punches by the sixth round, but Juarez was the more active, aggressive fighter.
Juarez dominated the seventh round, forcing Pagara to the ropes and unleashing punches in succession. Pagara was groggy by the middle of the round, and was clinching, trying to survive towards the end.
The young Filipino lunged right back into action when the bell rang to signal the start of the eighth round, but was met by a flurry of strikes by Juarez and could not respond.
Juarez became the new WBO intercontinental super bantamweight champion, and improved his record to 18-5.
Pagara, for his part, lost for the first time in his career, and dropped to 26-1 with 18 knockouts.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)