By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Former two division champion Gerry Penalosa’s protégé Michael “Hammer Fist” Farenas (33-3, 26KOs) battles undefeated North American Boxing Federation and WBO North American Boxing Organization featherweight champion Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia (27-0, 23KOs) at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 10 in what is being billed as a world title eliminator..
The main event features a title rematch between WBO champion Orlando Salido of Mexico and Puerto Rco’s former champion from whom Salido won the title, Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez. Salido won the title in a stunning 8th round TKO last April 16, 2011.
Should Farenas win on the Top Rank promotion he is almost certain to title shot at the winner of the Salido-Lopez rematch.
Penalosa told the Manila Standard that Garcia was a courageous fighter and predicted it would be a good fight. He said Farenas had been training for a fight on January 28 but he decided to pull him out for the bigger challenge against Garcia.
Penalosa said that should Farenas win he is likely to get a title shot by June.
Farenas trains at the Penalosa Gym in Eastwood and spars every other day under the watchful eye of his uncle and brother of Gerry, Jonathan Penalosa who used to be a member of Team Donaire but can’t apparently get a visa to return to the US. .
Penalosa said he had asked Farenas what he thought about fighting Garcia who, and the hard-hitting southpaw told him “it will be a good fight. I like it.”
Penalosa said Farenas would receive a purse of $50,000 and “if he wins it will be big in terms of his career advancement” even as he admitted that Garcia who is the brother of former world champion and Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire’s trainer Robert Garcia “is a brawler and is strong.”
At the same time Penalosa said he believes Garcia is better than either Lopez or Salido.
Farenas won the Philippine featherweight title with a unanimous twelve round decision over Edgar Gabejan last October 1 after earlier scoring an eight round decision over touted Mexican Fernando Beltra.
Garcia is coming off back-to-back stoppages winning the NABF/WBO NABO titles via a 4th round knockout of Rafael Guzman at the Staples Center on June 4, 2011 before winning by a 4th round TKO over Juan Carlos Martinez at the Theater of Madison Square Garden on October 22, 2011.