Farenas in must-win battle

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

There’s no turning back for Sorsogon southpaw Michael Farenas who’s been promised a golden opportunity to propel his boxing career if he beats Mexico’s Jesus (Chito) Rios in a 12-round bout at the Solaire Resort Hotel and Casino in Pasay City tomorrow night.

For sure, it won’t be easy repulsing Rios whose frightening record lists 20 KOs in 26 wins, including 10 in the opening round and 17 within the first three. His slate is marred by four knockout losses to Genaro Camargo (a Boom Boom Bautista victim in 2008), Francisco Paredes twice and Esau Goana, indicating almost a reckless style that comes with a do-or-die attitude.

“Rios is banger, that’s all we know about him,” said former two-division world champion Gerry Peñalosa who’s co-promoting the event with Manny Pacquiao and gym owner Anson Tiu Co.  â€œIt’s either Michael goes down or Rios. They’re both knockout artists. I don’t expect Michael or Rios to back down. They’ll go for the kill from the first bell. We have big plans for Michael but he has to take care of Rios before we get things moving.”

Peñalosa said Farenas is raring to get it on. “Michael can’t wait to fight,” he said. “Last October, he knocked out a Thai (Kosol Sor Vorapin) in two rounds. That was just a warm-up. He took a three-day rest after the fight then went back to the gym. He knows he can’t afford to lose to Rios.”

Peñalosa said if Farenas wins, he could be lined up in the Top Rank card on Feb. 22 in Macau against either Rocky Martinez or Diego Magdaleno or even WBO superfeatherweight champion Mikey Garcia. “I’ve talked to (Top Rank matchmaker) Brad Goodman who wants Michael to be ready in case there’s a fight for him in Macau,” said Peñalosa. “That’s why Michael has to win over Rios impressively. There’s a chance Garcia will defend the title in Macau or Michael could fight either Martinez or Magdaleno.”

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Peñalosa said if the Macau outing doesn’t push through, he’ll headline Farenas in his next promotion on Feb. 29 either at the Smart Araneta Coliseum or Solaire. It could be against Juan Manuel Lopez or Daniel Ponce de Leon. Curiously, both Lopez and Ponce de Leon have beaten Peñalosa so there’s a revenge angle to either fight. Peñalosa said the Feb. 29 card will feature his nephew Dave Peñalosa and also Eden Sonsona.

Tomorrow’s event is being staged by MAG Pacman Boxing International Promotions. MAG stands for Manny, Anson and Gerry – the three musketeers in the outfit established only five months back.

“Two years ago, Anson approached me asking to invest in my GerryPen company but I held back, waiting for the right time to put up a partnership,” said Peñalosa referring to Tiu Co whose family owns the Cooyeesan Hotel in Baguio. “Anson and I then became good friends. I found out about his love for boxing and how he helps fighters make something good out of their lives.”

In January last year, Tiu Co’s top prospect Karlo Maquinto died from injuries suffered during a fight in Caloocan and he seriously considered dismantling his boxing stable. But Tiu Co couldn’t break away from his fighters who kept their faith in him. It will be recalled that Tiu Co’s Shape-Up Boxing Gym, located in the Cooyeesan Hotel, was where Pacquiao trained for Miguel Cotto in 2009 and where Freddie Roach met Marvin Somodio, now his chief assistant at the Wild Card sweat house in Los Angeles.

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Peñalosa said he broached the idea of forming a new promotions company with Tiu Co this year. “I talked to Anson about it and we agreed the timing was right,” he said. “We asked Manny if he could join us as an industrial partner. We met him at his home in Forbes Park. He readily agreed. There’s no conflict with MP Promotions which is international because MAG is domestic. We share a common advocacy in using boxing as a vehicle to give our fighters a chance to upgrade their lives. Manny promised his all-out support for MAG and that’s more than enough. With Manny on board as our inspiration, we can’t go wrong.

Farenas, 29, has fought only once for the world title, figuring in a third round technical draw with Takashi Uchiyama in Saitama in July last year. That was for the WBA superfeatherweight crown. In December that year, he dropped Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa once but couldn’t finish him off and lost a unanimous decision in an interim WBA superfeatherweight title bout. Farenas has bounced back from the Gamboa defeat to post two knockout wins in a row over Gerardo Zayas in Texas and Sor Vorapin in Makati. His record is 36-4-4, with 28 KOs, including 19 inside three rounds. His four losses were all on points.

In the undercard, superbantamweight Dodie Boy Peñalosa Jr. takes on Mexico’s Alem Robles and bantamweight Richard Pumicpic faces Mexico’s Luis Lugo. MAG’s inaugural project is appropriately called First Blood and from all indications, fans can expect a splattering of crimson in the ring tomorrow night.

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