ALA Boxing Gym, the premier promotional outfit in the Philippines, have revealed that their next card in the "Pinoy Pride" line of shows, "Pinoy Pride 44", will take place on June 9th in Maasin City, and although it's not set to feature any world class bouts it does look like a stacked card with name value running through it, and should be a card that generates a fair bit of attention from those involved in it.
The main event is set to feature the popular Albert Pagara (29-1, 20) taking on Ghana's Laryea Gabriel Odoi (20-3-2, 14), who is best known for losing in a Commonwealth title fight to Martin Ward in 2013. Pagara, originally from Maasin City, will be the overwhelming favourite in the eyes of the fans, but Odoi has never been stopped, and has lost only once in his last 23 fights, having rebuilt following a 0-2 start to his professional career. Athlough Odoi is a tough, then again aren't all fighters teak tough, he has only fought once in the last year, and has only fought 4 times in the last 4 years. For Pagara this is a chance to record his 4th straight win following his 2016 loss to Cesar Juarez
Albert will be joined by older brother Jason Pagara (40-3-1, 25), who takes on Indonesian Geisler AP (12-10-1, 9). It's fair to say that 2017 was a year to forget for the once touted Pagara, who went 0-1-1 for the year. In December he suffered a TKO loss to Hiroki Okada and in both of his 2017 bouts he looked like a fighter who really lacked the commitment and fitness to be fighting. Even an off the boil Pagara should have far too much for the visiting fighter here, with the Indonesian fighter having been stopped in every one of his bouts outside of Indonesia.
Former world title challenger Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17) will be returning to the ring for the first time since his stoppage loss to Luis Nery as he takes on domestic journeyman Renren Tesorio (16-12-3, 4), in what should be an easy comeback fight for the 29 year old.
In another of the feature bouts the exciting Jeo Santisima (15-2, 13) will battle against Thai visitor Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda (16-5, 10) in a bout for the WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight title. The Thai visitor is 0-5 outside of Thailand is is likely to extend that losing run here against the hard hitting Santisima, who has looked like a real prospect in recent bouts, and will be looking to move into the WBO rankings with another win here. The Thai was riding a 10 fight winning run until recently, with that run ending this past February when he was out pointed by Juan Miguel Elorde, and we suspect he'll now suffer a second successive loss.
Others pencilled in for this card including former world title challenger Melvin Jerusalem (12-2, 7), unbeaten puncher Jeno Macapobre (3-0, 2) and Japanese fighter Go Hosaka (0-0)
Back in August the Bantamweight division was shaken up with we saw long reigning WBC Bantamweight champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (27-1-2, 19) [山中慎介] being stopped in 4 rounds by 22 year old Mexican Luis Nery (24-0, 18).
Sadly for the sport Nery's win was tainted following a drug's test which revealed a banned substance in his body. Originally the WBC had stated they would make a decision on the matter after going through their Clean Boxing Programme protocol, though now, almost 2 months later, we're still awaiting a decision from the organisation.
Yesterday Nery's promoter Zanfer announced that their man would return to the ring on November 4th, however he wouldn't be defending his title, instead he would be fighting in a non-title bout with Filipino Arthur Villanueva (31-2, 17).
At the press conference to announce the bout there was no mention of the elephant in the room. Instead Nery stated that he was happy to be fighting in Tiajuana as a world champion and hoped to have an exciting fight.
With the WBC still delaying a decision some have looked at this bout as a chance for the WBC to essentially turn a blind eye to the drug issue surrounding Nery's win over Yamanaka. Given the speed in which they recently dealt with a positive drug test from Cuban Luis Ortiz, refusing to sanction a bout between him and Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder as a result, it does seem like the WBC are being inconsistent and are leaving themselves very open to criticism and favourtism.
For Villanueva the bout is a huge one and could set up a third crack at a world title, though sadly for him he's the "other man" in what is likely to be a bout criticised for the lack of proper punishment for a failed drugs test.
(Image courtesy of Zanfer Promotions)
This coming Sunday we'll WBO Bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12) defending his title against Shohei Omori (18-1, 13) [大森 将平] in Osaka. The winner of that bout will know who their mandatory will be as on Saturday we get a WBO Bantamweight world title eliminator. That eliminator will see former IBF Super Flyweight champion Zolani Tete (24-3, 20) battle with former title challenger Arthur Villanueva (30-1, 16) in a very good looking match up on paper.
The bout between Tete and Villanueva will take place in the UK and it's little wonder that UK bookies have priced the bout up for those interested in gambling.
Unsurpringly the talented South African, who has recieved a fair bit of attention in the British boxing media following a massively impressive win over the then touted Paul Butler in 2015, is the betting favourite. In fact Tete is 1/7 to win the bout and become the mandatory for the WBO world title. As for the upset, Villanueva is priced around 6/1, with one bookmaker going as far as 27/4.
It's worth noting that the draw is 28/1.
For those looking for a little more value Tete is around events to win by decision, with the best price being 21/20, whilst a Tete stoppage victory is priced at 6/4. Of course for those more interested in a Villanueva win he is 19/2 to win by stoppage and a huge 11/1 to win by decision!
The bout is priced at evens to not go the distance and around 5/6 to go the distance.
It's fair to say that the Bantamweight division has given us a bit of everything in recent times, with some great bouts, some frustration, and some amazing rivalries. It has however been one division where bouts seem to fall through at an alarming rate. One such bout was a proposed November bout between Athur Villanueva (30-1, 16) and Zolani Tete (24-3, 20), who were set to fight in a WBO Bantamweight world title eliminator last year. Sadly the bout just vanished with out a trace with neither man getting into the ring on the proposed November date.
Now, according to sources in the Philippines, the bout has been re-arranged and will now take place on April 8th in the UK.
The talented Villanueva is best known, internationally, for his close, controversial and messy loss to McJoe Arroyo in July 2015, in what was a bout for the IBF Super Bantamweigth title that had some of the worst judging in recent years. Since then Villanueva has moved up in weight and gone 3-0 (2) with a pair of KO's against Juan Jimenez, and a controversial split decision win over Victor Mendez.
Tete is a former IBF Super Flyweight champion who won that title in 2014, when he travelled to Japan and beat Teiru Kinoshita for the vacant title, and defended it once, stopping Paul Butler in the UK. Since then his career has failed to really shine, with 4 wins over solid opponents. Although he hasn't been stringing together world class wins recently he is promoted by the powerful Frank Warren and it's clear that Warren is looking to make Tete one of the stars of his stable.
The winner of the bout will become the #1 contender for the WBO title currently held by Marlon Tapales (29-2, 12), who has been a divisional dark horse in recent years with recent wins against the likes of Hayato Kimura, Shohei Omori and Pungluang Sor Singyu.
On November 26th British fans have the opportunity to see a world title double header, with two British fighters defending world titles against over-matched opponents. On the under-card we have a bout that piques our interest as a Filipino will be in action on what looks like one of the best bouts on the card, by some margin.
The world title fights will see Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12) defending his WBO Middleweight title against once beaten challenger Artur Akavov (16-1, 7) whilst WBO Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (31-0, 12) defends his belt against the under-sized Orlando Cruz (25-4-1, 13). Whilst the card does have some interesting match ups, like a domestic showdown Liam Williams (15-0-1, 10) and Ahmet Patterson (17-0, 7), the pick of the bunch will see once beaten Filipino Athur Villanueva (30-1, 16) take on former world champion Zolani Tete (24-3, 20) in a WBO Bantamweight world title eliminator.
The winner of the Tete/Villanueva bout will become the next mandatory challenger for the WBO Bantamweight title, and will likely find themslves up against the current champion Marlon Tapales in 2017, something that became more likely last week when Tapales' had a scheduled bout with Takuma Inoue cancelled following a hand injury for Inoue forcing him out of a December 30th bout.
The is an extremely tough ass for Villanueva however the 27 year old Filipino is a veteran who has been a pro for close to 8 years and will know that a win over the highly regarded Tete will create some international buzz as well as securing a world title fight. Tete will be the favourite but this is far from a foregone conclusion.
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