You hear about the success stories in sports.There is the one perspective revolved around a ballplayer who leaves family and friends in the Dominican Republic, and the first stop in America is a subway ride up to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Floriano Pagliara, a promising super featherweight, had a similar date for destiny when he came to America seven years ago from Tuscany Italy. With no family or friends in town his first stop was a visit to Gleasons Gym, the legendary boxing establishment in the vicinity of downtown Brooklyn.
And that is where the dream of becoming a champion in America continued. With two championships in his possession, the IBF Super Featherweight Mediterranean and Italian Super Featherweight titles, the 36-year old has moved down in weight and is looking for another.
Pagliara will headline a nine-bout Salita “Star of David” night of boxing at Webster Hall in New York City next Thursday January 22nd. The WBU Americas Featherweight title is up for grabs when he opposes Antwan Robertson. Many would say it is just another alphabet soup title opportunity, but the WBU does hold some significance when it comes to getting within range fighting for a major title with the reputed World Boxing Council.
“When I left Italy to come here I lost a fight in front of 2,000 people in my town,” commented Pagliara Thursday afternoon. He was introduced to a small gathering of media at Capizzi Pizzeria an eatery on 9th Avenue, across the street from the port authority bus terminal.
And they welcomed him back there, as they do often. Prior to meeting friends in Brooklyn, many who will come and support him next week, Pagliara earned some income helping in the back of the brick oven pizza establishment.
He felt it was like being home in Tuscany where his father, grandmother and sister make sure to know about his well being and boxing career that came to New York City. Pagliara, speaking in a heavy northern Italian accent, said he had to prove to those at home that a struggle to get wins there would change with a move to America.
“I did not stop and want to prove to them. America, they support boxing They let you feel pro about what you do Boxing is different everything is here. Five years ago, somebody said to me ‘you going to be in America’ I would say ‘forget about it.’ Now I’m in America.”
His first eleven pro fights were in Italy that included one in Mexico City Mexico. The first fight in America was a second round knockout loss to “Irish” Danny McDermott in May of 2009 at Schuetzen Park in North Bergen New Jersey.
“He is tough and has the ability,” McDermott says. After that fight McDermott, who holds the WBC Asian Council Silver Super Lightweight title would embrace his opponent and that unique bond was formed between two fighters
And that love for boxing grew even more over the past few years.
“Italians love soccer,” Pagliara commented as to why boxing has minimal popularity in Italy. “I came here, I had already 10 fights. My conditioning and stamina was not there,” reflecting on the day he came to Gleasons Gym. He settled and rented a room in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and rode the bike, because as he says, “Did not know how to take the subway.”
Salita, still an active welterweight and living in Brooklyn, is trying to keep the rare and good showcase boxing show ongoing. Pagliara is a fighter that comes under a lone banner and in boxing is a fighter known as “borrowed”, in other words a free agent and any promoter can showcase his skills to the fans.
Said Salita, “Floriano is a fighter where people who are not boxing fans will come to like. He draws the boxing fan and New York City Italian community. A fighter is as good as the tools around him. Because of his crossover appeal he’s always a win away from a real opportunity. I feel he has potential. One fight away; each win is a step.”
Rich Komissar Sr. a self employed boxing manager has also been an instrumental part of this success story that continues next week at Webster Hall.
“He wants to fight at 126 and believes that is where he belongs,” says Komissar. “He wins this fight look for an intercontinental title. It’s a stepping stone,” referring to the sanctioning WBC and WBA boxing organizations that fracture their titles to those of the WBU.
It also helps that Pagliara is a huge ticket seller. Salita and other promoters who stage showcase fights will never hesitate to book a fighter with a fan base from here to Italy. Boxing is marketing and Floriano Pagliara has that appeal.
“Why I came to America to be a champion,” he says.
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso Twitter@Ring786