Philippines, 29 Feb 2024
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MAASIN CITY ? Former world title contender 'Prince' Albert Pagara, fighting in his hometown, and his visiting opponent Laryea Gabriel Odoi of Ghana, each promised to knock each other out when they met face to face for the first time during the final press conference of 'Pinoy Pride 44: Laban sa Leyte' which they headline this Saturday at the Maasin City Gym here.

Pagara who previously fought in Maasin five times winning all by knockouts en route to compiling a 29 wins-1loss record with 20 stoppages, said Odoi will be his sixth victim via stoppage in his hometown. ?I will knock him out hopefully this Saturday to add him to my list of victims here,? Pagara said.

Odoi who himself had 14 stoppages in 20 wins and whose countryman Isaac Dogboe is the champion of the division, agreed with Albert that there will be a knockout but it will not be him. ?I will knock him first. Pretty sure there will be a knockout in this fight, it's either him or me,? Odoi said.

Odoi's trainer Emmanuel Amponsan also saw a win for his ward. ?We changed three airlines to reach this city. We have not come here and took the long flights just to lose. We came here to win the WBO' belt and be in the world rankings.? Amponsan said.

Pagara and Odoi will dispute the WBO Intercontinental Jr Featherweight championship with the winner expected to go up in the world rankings for a possible world title shot.

Pagara, currently ranked No. 9, needs an impressive win to propel him back to the top five of the rankings.

L-R: Jason Pagara, Jeo Santisima, WBO vice-president Leon Panoncillo Jr, Likit Chane, Albert Pagara, Maasin City mayor Nacional 'Nico' Mercado, Laryea Gabriel Odoi and Wellem Reyk.

In the co-feature bout, knockout artist Jeo 'Santino' Santisima (15-2-0, 13KOs) will face Likit Chane (16-6-0, 10KOs) of Thailand for the vacant WBO Oriental super bantamweight title with the winner expected to barge into the top 15 in world rankings.

?I thanked my promoter for giving me this opportunity,? said Santisima who is few with words but heavy in punches. A win for him on Saturday will position him to take on other world title contenders.

WBO vice-president Leon Panoncillo Jr will supervise the WBO regional title bouts and emphasized the importance of the regional belts. ?It is thru these regional belts that boxers get ranked in the world rankings and eventually fight for a world title. This is the path taken by Boom-Boom Bautista, Z Gorres, Milan Melindo, Donnie Nietes and even Manny Pacquiao. So these regional belts are very important,? Panoncillo said.

In another co-feature bout, comebacking Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25KOs) will try to get back into the win column after being roughed up in his last two fights where he salvaged a draw and got knocked out respectively. This time he will face journeyman Wellem Reyk (19-18-4, 5KOs) of Indonesia for 10-rounds welterweight bout.

Pagara said he's happy to get back into the ring and climb back in the rankings. But it was it was Reyk who had choice words over Pagara who said, ?I did come here on vacation. I don't come here to talk. I com here to fight. And I will win my fight against Jason Pagara on Saturday.

The press conference was graced by the presence of Maasin City mayor Nacional 'Nico' Mercado who said his office and the office of vice mayor Maloney Samaco were working very hard to make the 'Pinoy Pride 44' event successful. ?It is a rare opportunity for provincial city like ours to host a big event like this so we give our all out support to make this event successful to also showcase Maasin city to the world,? said Mercado who also said he beefed up the security for the event with the expected attendance of guests from neighboring towns. Mercado also said they are planning to hold more sporting events like this in the future.

ALA Promotions president Michael Aldeguer is still out of the country and was being represented in the press conference by ALA Promotions executive Jeana Alvarez who said 70% of tickets for the event have already been sold out.

Also on the card this Saturday are the following:

Two-time world title challenger Arthur Villanueva will take on Renren Tesorio of Taguig City for 10 rounds bantamweight bout.
Former title challenger Melvin Jerusalem of Bukidnon faces Philip Luis Cuerdo of Mandaluyong City for 10 rounds in junior flyweight.
Fil-Japanese Go Hosaka faces Holly Quinones of General Santos City for 6 rounds lightweight.
Joyjoy Formentera of Bohol takes on Lobert Bayo of Mandaue City for 6 rounds super flyweight.
Jeno Macapobre of Toledo City will face Carlito Antaran of General Santos City for 4 rounds flyweight.

The official weight is scheduled tomorrow, Friday, at 11:00 a.m. at the Gaisano Metro in Maasin City.

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