By Ronnie Nathanielsz
IBF No. 4 ranked southpaw Michael “Hammer Fist” Farenas sparred four furious rounds with promising young Al Rivera at the Gerry Penalosa Gym in Mandaluyong on Monday as he prepared for his battle with undefeated American Mark Davis at the Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut on July 2.
A protégé of former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa, Farenas sparred for the first time following two weeks of training for his super featherweight eliminator for the No. 2 spot against the No.11 ranked Davis.
The 29 year old Farenas has a record of 38-4-4 with 30 knockouts and is coming off a 2nd round TKO of Mexican veteran Hector Velazquez, a former opponent of “Fighter of the Decade” Manny Pacquiao.
Farenas earned recognition in the US for his gallant stand against unbeaten world champion and former Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez fourth fight with Farenas dropping the showboating Gamboa in the 9th round although the Cuban dropped Farenas twice to win a unanimous decision.
Penalosa said the Gamboa fight earned Farenas “the respect as a warrior” and should he beat Davis, Penalosa said he would ask IBF Championship Committee Chairman Lindsey Tucker to give Farenas a title shot at the winner of a fight between champion Argenis Mendez and No. 1 contender Rancee Barthalemy.
Farenas and Rivera who is also a southpaw traded some big shots throughout in a four round sparring session that looked more like a real fight which is what Penalosa wanted.
He told the Manila Standard that he “looked for a good sparring partner and picked Rivera, a potential rising star" who lost in his debut over four rounds but then won nine fights in a row, seven by knockout.
Penalosa said Farenas “is in good condition” and expressed the hope that “he will continue and improve” in his fight against the 27 year old “Too Sharp” Davis who is a lightweight with a record of 18-0 with 5 knockouts and is coming off a unanimous ten round decision over Carlos Vinan last September 16.
An outstanding amateur with some 200 bouts, Davis fought for the WBC USNB super featherweight title against tough Guillermo Sanchez and although Davis won a ten round unanimous decision he lost the chance to win the title as he was three pounds over the limit.
One of Davis’ achievements was when he won the gold medal at the 2006 US Championships and later went on to win the Eastern Olympic Trials for the 2008 Olympics.