By Rich Mazon –

Reigning WBO minimumweight (105 lbs.) champion Merlito Sabillo (23-0-1, 12 KOs) of the Philippines will be defending his world title belt in enemy territory this Saturday evening in Mexico (Sunday morning in the Philippines).

Sabillo, of Negros Occidental, is scheduled to protect his diadem in Monterey, Mexico, hometown of his challenger Francisco Rodriguez Jr. in his third defense of his title.

Team Sabillo, who arrived in Monterey, Mexico from San Diego, California last Tuesday, expressed that despite the apprehension of fighting in his challenger’s hometown, he is confident that his recent training and preparation for this fight will prevail above the ring.

“Siyempre kahit sino naman po ay maalangan kasi nasa teritoryo tayo ng kalaban, pero wala tayong magagawa kasi promotion nila eh. Ang sa akin ay Diyos na lang ang nakakaalam at gagawin ko ang best ko,“ Sabillo told this writer in an interview before leaving for Mexico.

(Of course, anyone will be uncomfortable because we are in enemy territory but we can’t do anything because it is their promotions. For me, only God knows what will happen and that I will do my best.)

But his coach, Edito Villamor, head trainer of the ALA stable, has confidence that Sabillo will fare well against Rodriguez Jr. despite the favorable venue and the hometown crowd for their Mexican counterpart.

“Hindi naman kami alangan (sa paglaban sa Mexico). Sanay naman si Merlito. Noong kinuha niya yung belt ng world title, doon yun sa Colombia. Dito (US) kami nag training camp at magaling naman ang training namin dito kaya wala namang problema sa kanya,” Villamor said.

(We are not uncomfortable (of fighting in Mexico). Merlito is accustomed to fighting elsewhere. When he won the belt for the world title, it was in Colombia. We spent our training camp here (US) and our training is great here and I think there won’t be any problems for him.)

Sabillo and some of his fellow ALA stable mates trained in the States for most part of this camp, under the tutelage of trainers, Edito Villamor and Michael Domingo. They spent time in various boxing gyms in California, sparring against fighters from those gyms. Both boxer and trainer are upbeat that their time spent in training in the US will help them against Rodriguez Jr. who is ranked number 9 by the WBO.

“Malaking tulong, nakapag-training kami ng conditioning training dito under Nick Curson. Maganda naman pinagawa niya, yung mga plyometrics, lahat. Iba talaga, iba ang training dito.” said Villamor.

(It’s a big help, we underwent condition training under Nick Curson. He made them do plyometrics and other stuff. Training here is really different.)

Sabillo admitted that he noticed an improvement on his conditioning after undergoing the various strength and conditioning exercises and that also he expects no difficulty in meeting the 105 pound limit for the fight.

The 30 year-old champion is only three pounds above the weight limit last Sunday, a full week ahead of his fight.

Sabillo, who is not fond of trash-talking, made no guarantees but promised to give his best when he puts his title in the line against Rodriguez Jr.

“Hindi lang ako magsabi ng kung ano sir, basta gagawin ko lahat ng best ko para maipanalo at madepensahan ang aking title belt.”

(I don’t want to say anything sir, except that I will give my very best to win and to defend this title.)



By Maloney L. Samaco  –  

Jason Pagara successfully defended his World Boxing Organization (WBO) international light welterweight title. It was a convincing unanimous decision win over Aaron Herrera of Mexico. Pagara said it’s all up to his boss Antonio L. Aldeguer to chart his future fights. But he is always prepared for any challenge that might come along the way.

It seemed that Pagara was on his way to a knockout victory as promised during the pre-fight press conferences. He knocked the Mexican down who touched the floor with his gloves and received an eight-count from the referee Bruce McTavish. But La Joya recovered and withstood the best punches the Filipino champion could slap on him.

The Mexican challenger had his moments of dominance in the middle rounds when the ALA standout seemed to run out of steam. But the impressive final three rounds proved to be the Filipino’s selling point as he asserted his power over the visiting foe.

jaca-perea.fn.05.330wPagara convinced all three judges to score a unanimous decision. The scores are 115-112 by Salven Lagumbay, 116-111 by Tony Pesons, but the 119-108 score by Arnie Najera may be too much.

El Niño traced his roots from Maasin City and honed up his skills in Cagayan de Oro City under the patronage of Misamis Oriental governor now CDO mayor-elect Oscar Moreno.

The WBO top contender is the next Pacquiao foe Brandon Rios. The number two contender is undefeated American Karim Mayfield and the number three is Sehiy Fedchenko of Ukraine, who once fought and lost to Marquez.

If he intends to challenge the other organizations’ titles then he has to contend with WBA and WBC champion Danny Garcia, who is also The Ring champion, or IBF champion Lamont Peterson.

The light welterweight division is overcrowded with talents. But Pagara is still young and has the great potential still waiting to be tapped. He has to train in the United States to be at par with the world class fighters of his category.

And during the post-fight interview over ABS-CBN, Pagara said “ALA knows best.”