It's been known for a while that Donnie Nietes (34-1-4, 20) would be defending his WBO Light Flyweight title and that Nonito Donaire (33-3, 21) would be making his return to the Philippines on the March 20th ALA promoted card but until recently little was known about the under-card. The announcement regarding Pagara however is an exciting one.
The hotly tipped Filipino fighter, who many view as a future world champion, saw his opponent being named as Rodolfo Hernandez (26-5-1-1, 24).
On paper this looks a really good test of Pagara's chin however in reality Hernandez is one of the many fighters with awfully bloated and padded records. In his 33 bouts to date Hernandez has suffered 4 stoppage losses, with 3 of those stoppages coming in his last 6 bouts. He can certainly punch but his best wins are are certainly not at the top level. His best win to date came last time out when he blew away Mario Briones in 54 seconds however that win aside it's difficult to see much else of note on his record.
For Pagara there is danger here, at least in the opening round or two, though given Pagara's clever counter punching it would seem likely that he Filipino catches the more open Hernandez with counter to finish off his challenger.
Pagara genuinely impressed last time when he essentially shut out Raul Hirales with an almost punch perfect performance. It's unlikely he'll need to use those same skills here however an eye catching knockout of Hernandez could help Pagara get himself a world title shot in the near future. He may not begin as a favourite against any of the champions but he has the confidence and ability to pick up a title if given the opportunity. At 21 years old however there will be no rush if ALA can't get him a favourable opponent at the top table.
Luis Ceja out, Gilberto Parra in, for Donnie Nietes
(Image of a young Pagara courtesy of boxrec.com)