MANILA, Philippines - Former two-time world boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa said yesterday his protégé Michael Fareñas’ advantage over Yuriorkis Gamboa of Cuba is the ability to score a knockout with pure power and that’s why he’s confident of victory in the 12-round bout for the interim IBF superfeatherweight championship at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Dec. 8.
Fareñas, 28, and Gamboa, 30, will slug it out in the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez mainer.
”Gamboa’s chin is questionable, medyo marupok,” said Peñalosa in an overseas telephone conversation from Los Angeles. “I expect in a 12-round fight, Gamboa will get hit by Michael, sooner or later. When he gets hit, Gamboa’s going down. I don’t think he can take a punch. Even if he’s undefeated, Gamboa has been knocked down in at least five fights. Michael is hungry for recognition, matapang at malakas. This is his chance.”
Gamboa, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the flyweight division, has a bad habit of falling to the canvas but while he’s never been stopped, it’s an indication of a so-called China chin. He was floored in the first round by Marcos Ramirez, in the second by Roger (Speedy) Gonzalez, in the fourth by Adailton de Jesus and Darling Jimenez and in the eighth by Orlando Salido. To his credit, Gamboa got up to halt three of them and outpoint two. His record is 21-0, with 16 KOs. A disadvantage is he hasn’t fought since scoring an eighth round technical decision over Mexican Daniel Ponce de Leon in New Jersey in September last year. The ring rust will show for sure as Gamboa ends a 14-month layoff.
More than the inactivity, Peñalosa said invading the superfeatherweight division will be a distinct drawback if Gamboa isn’t able to handle the extra three to four pounds. The fight will be held at a limit of 130 and Gamboa hasn’t weighed more than 127 in his last seven bouts since 2009. “You can’t say enough about Gamboa,” said Peñalosa. “He’s a very talented boxer. He was fast as a featherweight, I don’t know if he’ll be as fast as a superfeatherweight.”
Gamboa was once the unified WBA/IBF featherweight titlist. Managerial problems led to a long period of inactivity and now, the Cuban is handled by rapper 50 Cent. Moving to the US was a long journey for Gamboa who defected while training in Venezuela in 2007. He made his way to Colombia then Germany where he turned pro and eventually got a visa to travel to the US.
Fareñas left Manila for Los Angeles with Pacquiao last Oct. 27. Peñalosa followed last Thursday and finalized the terms of the contract early this week after negotiating a $70,000 purse for Fareñas.
Peñalosa said Pacquiao assured Fareñas of a slot in the undercard but Top Rank couldn’t find an opponent until Gamboa came knocking. Gamboa was originally slated to face Miguel Beltran and sought out Fareñas after three candidates dropped out. The match was providential. Peñalosa said before coming to terms, he wanted to be sure if Fareñas was ready.
“Michael was training at the Wild Card Gym with Buboy (Fernandez), Nonoy (Neri) and Bobby (Jalnaiz) so when the call came to fight Gamboa, he was prepared,” said Peñalosa. “Michael’s confident. He wants this fight. Over the weekend, he was anxious to get it done. We didn’t finalize the contract until Monday. He was frustrated in his last fight against (Takashi) Uchiyama for the WBA superfeatherweight title. The fight was declared a technical draw. I advised Michael to be patient, that his time will come. We’re grateful to Congressman (Pacquiao) for giving Michael the chance to fight in the undercard and for the interim IBF title against Gamboa.”
In his first world title bid in Saitama last July, Fareñas was confident of beating Uchiyama. An accidental headbutt cut Uichiyama over the right eye, prompting the referee to step in and declare a technical draw in the third round.
“Win or lose, this is a big opportunity for Michael to be seen on pay-per-view,” said Peñalosa. “This is his chance to prove his worth, put up a good fight. He has to try his best because this will open doors for him. He could be the first fighter to beat Gamboa.”