Farenas bout may be upgraded

Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - There is a slim chance that the IBF superfeatherweight title eliminator between Michael Farenas and Jose Pedraza in Puerto Rico on Nov. 14 may be upgraded to a fight for the 130-pound championship.

Farenas’ manager Gerry Peñalosa told The Star recently the possibility becomes a reality if and when IBF champion Rances Barthelemy of Cuba relinquishes the throne and moves up in weight.

“There’s some speculation but if Barthelemy decides to vacate, we also don’t know if the IBF will automatically declare the winner of Michael’s fight against Pedraza the new champion,” said Peñalosa. “I’ve told Michael he can’t afford to lose to Pedraza because this could be for the title, not just an eliminator. The worst scenario is the fight is an eliminator and the winner challenges Barthelemy for the championship. I want Michael to treat this like a title fight.”

Peñalosa said Pedraza could be more difficult to handle than the Cuban. “I think Barthelemy is easier to beat than Pedraza,” said Peñalosa. “Michael has a big chance of defeating Barthelemy because if they fight, it will be a slugfest. Barthelemy doesn’t run, he comes to fight. That’s what Michael likes – he wants to brawl and let his power take over. Pedraza’s style is more suited for AIBA.”

Pedraza, 25, reached the second round of the 2008 Olympics. He bagged a bronze at the World Cup in Moscow in 2008 and a silver at the AIBA World Championships in Milan the next year. “Pedraza likes to hit and run,” said Peñalosa. “Michael has to move in and create the opportunity to engage. He has to pressure Pedraza, push him to the ropes and into the corners. He’s got to run him over. That’s our Plan A.”

Farenas, 30, is ranked No. 2 and Pedraza No. 3 by the IBF. The No. 1 slot is vacant. The winner of their fight assumes the No. 1 position and becomes the mandatory challenger. Barthelemy, 28, won the IBF title on a unanimous 12-round decision over Argenis Mendez last July. Early this month, the Cuban outpointed veteran Fernando Saucedo in his first title defense to raise his record to 21-0, with 12 KOs. Saucedo was blanked in the three judges’ scorecards. The fight was so one-sided that a lot of fans left the arena before it ended.

Farenas will earn $30,000 net of tax for taking on Pedraza. His biggest paycheck was $90,000 gross for facing Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa in Las Vegas two years ago. Farenas floored Gamboa once but lost a unanimous decision.

Peñalosa said the hometown advantage will be a handicap and that’s why the priority is to knock out Pedraza. Referee for the fight is Roberto Ramirez Sr, who is Puerto Rican like Pedraza. One of the judges Carlos Colon is Puerto Rican while the other two are John Stewart of New Jersey and Tony Paolillo of New York. “You’re not sure what will happen if it goes 12 rounds,” said Peñalosa. “I keep reminding Michael not to let the judges decide who’ll win. You’ll never know how the hometown crowd can influence the judges.”

Fighting in Puerto Rico is nothing new to Peñalosa who in 2009, battled Juan Manuel Lopez for the WBO superbantamweight crown at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon. Peñalosa was stopped in the 10th round. Other Filipino fighters who lost in Puerto Rico include Bernabe Concepcion to Mikey Garcia on a seventh round knockout in 2012, Rodel Mayol to Ivan Calderon on a seventh round technical decision in 2009 and Marvin Sonsona on a fourth round knockout to Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in 2010.   

Farenas is now training at the Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. He left Manila for Los Angeles last Oct. 11. Farenas, Peñalosa’s brother and trainer Erbing and conditioning coach Jay San Pedro will fly to San Juan on Nov. 9.

Mario Serrano, publicist of Gary Shaw Promotions, said the fight at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente will be televised on DirecTV in Puerto Rico. “Pedraza, who has knocked out five of his last seven opponents, is excited about the opportunity to showcase his talents at home in Puerto Rico where all of his fans will be able to see him fight live,” said Serrano. “Farenas possesses immense power in both hands. With the advantage in experience, Farenas feels that he has the knowledge to figure out Pedraza who is a slick boxer-puncher.”

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