CEBU CITY, Philippines – Through 19 previous fights, Genesis Servania has already accomplished his initial goal to help his family. The junior featherweight prospect from Bacolod City, Philippines has long been the breadwinner of his family, where he is one of five children raised by his parents.
Just last month, the 21-year-old Servania made the final payment on his older brother Stephen’s bail on a murder charge that kept him behind bars for three years. Stephen, who Servania says was merely accompanying a friend who was surrendering for the stabbing death of a barangay captain, was arrested as well.
When Servania (19-0, 7 knockouts) faces Indonesian Isack Junior (20-3-2, 8 KOs) this Saturday at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City, Philippines, his purse will go towards paying his 53-year-old father Antonio’s medical bills incurred after he had gall stones removed recently.
The show, which will be a co-featured bout to ALA Promotions’ Pinoy Pride XX card, will be headlined by Servania’s stablemate Jason Pagara (30-2, 19 KOs) of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines facing Aaron Herrera (25-1, 17 KOs), of Mexico, in a 12-round junior welterweight bout.
Awaiting Servania after Saturday night is a chance to earn bigger purses and a spot on the international stage, as he is scheduled to fight again on July 27 at the Venetian Hotel in Macau, China in an eight-rounder against former title challenger Konosuke Tomiyama (23-5-1, 8 KOs) on the second boxing event headlined by two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming.
The card, which is promoted by Top Rank, will also feature Servania’s stablemate Milan Melindo (29-0, 12 KOs) facing WBO/WBA flyweight titleholder Juan Estrada (24-2, 18 KOs).
“I’m more than ready for this fight [against Junior],” said Servania, after he weighed in at 122 pounds at Friday’s weigh-in. “I know I need a strong showing in this fight because I’ll be fighting in Macau next.”
Servania is a bit of an overachiever; a young man who started boxing at eight years old in an ALA Promotions-sponsored amateur gym before turning pro at age 17. Servania is a good puncher, but doesn’t rival Andy Ganigan. He has good speed, but isn’t “Flash” Elorde.
“I like his charisma,” said head trainer Edito Villamor, when asked what he felt stood out about Servania. “He knows how to go for the kill.”
Servania has reached this level of success purely through his hard work, a trait that was instilled in him as a child.
Servania grew up in a home with no running water, and it was Genesis who was often charged with the responsibility of fetching water every morning 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.
Two of Genesis’ brothers have also followed him into the professional boxing field. Genesis’ older brother Jake retired in 2010 with a record of 4-1-1 (1 KO) and is currently one of the trainers at the ALA Gym, while another brother Rolando (2-0, 1 KO) turned pro this past January.
Servania has already beaten three former world title challengers in Gerson Guerrero, Genaro Garcia and Angky Angkotta. A win over a fourth world title challenger in July could put him in a title fight of his own.
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.