Son of immigrant caregivers relishes fighting in Pacquiao undercard

LAS VEGAS—John Leo Dato will kick off fight night in Las Vegas on Saturday (Sunday morning, Manila time) with a match-up against Mexican-American Juan Antonio Lopez, a few hours before Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman battle.

“This is a big step and I’m really, really blessed to be on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao,” said Dato, who is based in Central California but was born in La Union.

“All my life I was thinking I’m going to be on the undercard. Always dreaming, working hard and here I am being on Manny’s undercard.”

The Datos migrated from Bangar town, La Union to Bakersfield when John Leo was 7, and moved around California’s central valley.

The prep athlete picked up the sport after high school and now works as a personal trainer in between his training sessions.

He made his professional debut in December 2016 and has brought his record to 11-0-1 with 7 victories by knockout; Lopez boasts a 14-6 record.

“It’s what I love to do,” Dato said. “I don’t know what I was going to do after high school so I did boxing, and ever since, I started falling in love, and I am now fighting an undercard of Manny Pacquiao. It’s a blessing.”

Dato has been active, taking on 5 fights in 2018, and this Saturday’s event will mark his third ring appearance this year.

The workhorse mindset is something his parents, both caregivers, instilled in the 26-year-old bantamweight.

“It’s a blessing, I can’t take things for granted. I’m so happy. I’m going to make them happy,” he said.

On Saturday, the American dream moves one step closer for the Datos, and they’ll share the stage with two other Pinoy punchers. Pacquiao-promoted Genisis Libranza and Jayar Inson are also both on the undercard for this weekend’s pay-per-view showdown.

Read more on Balitang America.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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