By Carlos Costa

Boxing fans in Southern Leyte, Philippines, can't wait for Saturday night as two of their star boxers battle against dangerous foreign fighters in ALA Promotions' Pinoy Pride 44 in Maasin.

In a much awaited clash, hard-hitting Maasin native Albert Pagara (29-1, 20 KO's) risks his world-ranking by trading blows against tough African warrior Laryea Gabriel Odoi (20-3-2, 14 KO's) of Ghana for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Super Bantamweight strap.  

Stakes are high for this rumble as the winner gets closer a possible match against WBO 118-pounder world champ Isaac Dogboe (19-0, 13 KO's) of Ghana.

In another intriguing duel, brother Jason Pagara aims at bouncing back from a disappointing knock out lost last December in Japan by taking on Indonesian journeyman Wellem Reyk, a man who comes to Maasin with nothing to lose and so much to win. 

Will former world-ranked Jason Pagara prove to his followers that he still has what its needed to compete at a world-class level in boxing?   Or will the veteran Indonesian be another nightmarish James Onyango in the boxing career of Jason Pagara?  At 29 year-of-age, "El Niño" can not afford more costly mistakes, and intrigued fans will be watching.

Another clash of civilizations will unfold when slick Filipino power-puncher Jeo Santisima (15-2, 13 KO's) exchanges heavy artillery against 26 year-old Likit Chane (aka Yodsingdaeng Jor Chaijinda) of Thailand for the vacant WBO Oriental Super Bantamweight belt.  The winner most likely breaks into the WBO world-rankings in the 122 pound division.  

"Jeo Santisima is a knockout artist who puts fans in the edge of their seats.  This is his first attempt at a regional title, which should be his springboard to bigger fights in the future, if he wins impressively," said Santisima's promoter Michael D. Aldeguer, CEO of ALA Sports Promotions in Cebu, Philippines.

Also in action is former world title challenger Arthur Villanueva (31-3, 17 KO's) trading blows with fellow Filipino Renren "Rainman" Tesorio in a 10-rounder in the bantamweight division. 

Villanueva looks for a knock out win to re-invigorate his career at a crossroads after a rough loss last November to controversial Mexican former bantamweight world champion Luis "Pantera" Nery (26-0, 20 KO's) in Tijuana.    Tough warrior Villanueva needs a clear, decisive victory Saturday night.   For him at this stage in his fighting career, failure is not an option.

Pinoy Pride 44 this Saturday (June 9) at Maasin City Gym in Maasin City, Southern Leyte in the Philippines is a production of ALA Sports Promotions International of Filipino promoter Michael D. Aldeguer in association with TV channel ABS-CBN Sports and Action.

Fights start at 6 PM.

The author Carlos Costa of Panama is a fight reporter based in Cebu, Philippines.   He will attend Pinoy Pride 44 in Maasin City, Philippines.  Carlos can be reached by email and Whatsapp +639184538152.