Owing to his innate punching power, Sorsogon native Michael “Hammer Fist” Farenas was initially looked upon as a world title prospect. Along the way, however, Farenas’ penchant for intentionally or unintentionally fighting beyond the parameters of the rule book cost him several big fights.
In ten years as a pro fighter, Farenas has earned a reputation as a dirty fighter. If he was not throwing low blows, he was head-butting and cutting up foes bad. This unsavory image eventually turned off promoters and prospective marquee opponents. Fortunately, just when Farenas seemed destined to be another footnote in the sport, former two-division champion Gerry Peñalosa came to the rescue and salvaged his career.
Under the tutelage of Peñalosa, Farenas turned in a new leaf. In December 2012, Farenas merited serious attention from international fight fans when he rumbled for 12 rounds with Cuban power-hitter Yuriorkis Gamboa for the interim World Boxing Association (WBA) super featherweight (130 pounds) championship. Picked to embalm Farenas alive, Gamboa struggled big time. Farenas traded with Gamboa with gusto and knocked down the Cuban in a thrilling ninth round. While Farenas lost on points, his gutsy performance resurrected his career.
Farenas, 39-4 with 31 knockouts, has since been on a roll. The 30-year-old southpaw has won his last five fights, the last one coming by way of an impressive eighth round demolition of previously unbeaten American Mark “Too Sharp” Davis on July 2. Farenas engaged Davis in a dog fight and hammered him at will until the referee pulled the plug.
With the big win, Farenas now finds himself on the threshold of a shot at the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super featherweight crown. The IBF Championship Committee recently ordered the staging of a title elimination fight involving Farenas and American Diego Magdaleno. Whoever wins in the title elimination fight will advance to face the winner of the September showdown between challenger Fernando Saucedo of Mexico and IBF defending champ Rances Bathelemy of Cuba.
Magdaleno totes a record of 26-1 with 10 knockouts. A converted southpaw who turned to boxing after dropping soccer (the name Diego was taken from football superstar Diego Maradona), Magdaleno is a pure boxer with suspect punching power. He fought for the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) super featherweight crown but lost on points to Puerto Rican Roman “Rocky” Martinez. Magdaleno succumbed to Martinez’s pressure and kissed the canvas in the fourth round.
From where this writer sits, Farenas is a harder hitter than Martinez and offers a swarming style that will literally place Magdaleno inside a pressure cooker. Magdaleno has been battling injuries lately and this explains why his last fight was a mere eight-rounder.
Lady Luck is finally smiling on Farenas. If the guy can keep his punches up, there is no reason why he can’t reach the summit of the fight game.
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