Dodie Boy Jr. a bright star in Vegas

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Superbantamweight prospect Dodie Boy Peñalosa Jr. stole the show in the early undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez mainer at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas recently and drew raves for his second round knockout over Mexico’s Jesus Lule.

Peñalosa’s purse was $7,500 but Pacquiao gave him a $2,000 bonus for making short work of Lule who was coming off five wins in a row. The Filipino dug a left hook to the midsection then finished off Lule with a short right hook to the jaw. Referee Jay Nady didn’t bother to count as Lule collapsed on the seat of his pants. It didn’t look like Lule knew where he was as his eyes were glazed.

In Peñalosa’s corner were his father Dodie Boy Sr., Buboy Fernandez and Argentinian cutman Miguel Diaz. His uncle and manager Gerry Peñalosa, a two-time world champion like his father, witnessed the demolition job at ringside with wife Goody.

For a 22-year-old fighter making his US debut, Peñalosa displayed remarkable poise. Lule chased him down, trying to intimidate with pressure, but had nothing to show in the trenches. With his back against the ropes, Peñalosa countered and struck like a cobra, spewing venom as he landed the big shot that sent Lule down for good.

“I trained for two months, starting in General Santos City then I flew to the US with Kuya Manny to train at the Wild Card Gym,” said Peñalosa in Pilipino. “I saw one of Lule’s fights on YouTube and I studied his style. I knew he would come forward and put pressure so I picked sparmates who did the same. I sparred about 10 times with boxers who fight like Lule. So when the fight started, I knew what to do. I was prepared.”

There are big plans for Peñalosa next year. He’ll go for the WBO Youth championship in March or April then if Pacquiao returns in July, another undercard fight will be arranged. “My idol is Kuya Manny, I want to fight like him,” said Peñalosa. “My Papa is also my idol, I’m always with him. He’s my guide. What I learn from him is how to throw power shots. From my uncle Gerry, I learn how to use my head, to fight with skill, defense and technique.”

Twice, Peñalosa should’ve fought in the undercard of previous Pacquiao mainers but he stayed patient for his chance. When it came, Peñalosa made sure he would be remembered. “I still have a lot to learn,” said Peñalosa. “I spar with my brother Dave who hits harder than me and we spar like we’re not brothers. My dream is for both of us to become world champions.” Dave, 21, has a 5-0 record, with 3 KOs, while Dodie Jr.’s slate is 10-0, with 10 KOs.

Peñalosa said he was five when his father figured in his last bout against Julius Tarona in Cebu in 1995. The fight was declared a no-contest when fans threw debris inside the ring to protest Tarona’s foul tactics. Peñalosa’s mother Marie Ann, now 43, was in the audience.

“My mother doesn’t watch any of my fights,” said Peñalosa. “Once, I asked her to watch one of my amateur fights and she came only after I gave her money. But now, she just watches tapes of my fights.” The brothers have a sister Ashley Nicole, 11.

“When Junior and Dave fight, all I do is pray at home,” said Marie Ann. “Dodie Boy and I have been married 23 years and I never saw him fight as a world champion. My mother (Anastacia Pumar, 69) goes to church and prays the rosary when the boys fight. That’s how we show our support, by praying for their safety.” There are fighters in the Pumar family, too, so the brothers’ boxing heritage is deeply rooted.

Pedigree sets the Peñalosas apart from others. Boxing is in their blood and so is the lineage of world champions. Dodie Boy Sr. was a world lightflyweight and flyweight titlist while Gerry reigned as world superflyweight and bantamweight king. If the sheen rubs off on the brothers, you can expect more Peñalosas to become world champions sooner or later.

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