Ryan Songalia

Servania fights for family as well as career

MANILA, Philippines – It’s hard to determine exactly what sticks out about Filipino junior featherweight prospect Genesis Servania. The Bacolod City, Philippines native has a record of 18-0 (6 knockouts), which doesn’t suggest he’s a dominant puncher. While his speed is adequate, it won’t make you forget Hector Camacho.

What is eye-opening is his poise; though having just turned 21 on Wednesday, Servania has maintained his prodigious composure as he steps up to 10-12 round contests against far more experienced competition. In each of Servania’s bouts against former world title challengers – against Genaro Garcia in June and Gerson Guerrero last September – Servania was able to elevate his game to another level he hadn’t previously shown.

Servania wound up defeating Guerrero by unanimous decision and stopped Garcia in the twelfth round of their contest.

“What I’ve learned during those fights against two veterans is to be more focused and more patient while executing,” said Servania. “You cannot rush things.”

Servania will look to elevate his record once more this Saturday when he faces Jorge Pazos (20-3, 13 KOs), of Guamuchil, Mexico, at the Waterfront Hotel Lahug in Cebu City in the twelve-round co-featured bout of ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride 15 card. In the main event, hard-hitting light welterweight Jason Pagara (28-2, 17 KOs) looks to avenge his defeat to Rosbel Montoya (16-3-1, 13 KOs) in a 12-round contest.

The card will be televised domestically on ABS-CBN channel 2 on Sunday morning, beginning at 10:15 a.m.

What’s surprising about Servania, though is that he has managed to reach this level of confidence without a single amateur bout.

If “Azukal” shows uncommon maturity in the ring now, it’s because he has had to grow up much quicker than most.

Growing up in the provincial city of Bacolod City in a home with no running water, a young Servania would often wake up each morning to fetch water from a public pump a kilometer away. Once he returned, he’d leave once again to gather firewood on the outskirts of town so the family could cook their meals.

His father found it difficult to find work because he was a convicted felon, so Genesis’ mother would support the family of seven by herself. Every morning, she would head to the market, purchase two buckets of fish and walk around the city until all the fish was sold.

To help his family, Genesis dropped out of high school at 15 to workas a tricycle driver. A tricycle is a motorcycle equipped with a sidecar which passengers can ride in for a fare.

As one of the Filipino youths who were inspired by the ring exploits of Manny Pacquiao, Genesis wandered into a boxing gym run by local promoter Reverend Henry Guanzon. He had no interest in working his way through the amateur ranks to learn his craft. He needed a way to earn a living, and maybe a way to exorcise the stress of his difficult life.

“I was just bumming around making standby,” admits Servania. “I just wanted to go into boxing to help my family.”

Servania turned pro at age 17, and soon after attracted the attention of the Cebu-based promotion that he is currently aligned with. Most of the purses he earns are sent to his mother to alleviate some of her financial burdens. Part also goes to help his older brother Stephen.

Stephen, by Genesis’ own account, is no angel. He had been in jail once for stabbing a neighborhood bully, says Servania. For the past three years, Stephen has been behind bars, awaiting the remaining 45,000 php (roughly $1,000 USD) balance on his bail as he awaits trial for the murder of a local “barangay” (city subdivision) official’s nephew.

Genesis says that his brother had simply accompanied a friend of his to surrender to the charges, and once they were inside, both were arrested and charged.

As Servania’s purses increase, so does the rate at which he approaches his brother’s bail requirements and the comfort level of his family. For Servania, fighting with a purpose takes on a new meaning.

 

 

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at songaliaboxing@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.

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