MANILA, Philippines – An early stoppage win over Mexican journeyman Hector Velazquez could've been the most ideal result for Michael Farenas. Still, this isn't what he would've hoped for.
Just a little over a minute into Round 2 of their fight Friday night in San Juan, Philippines, the two fighters came together and Velazquez emerged with a cut.
Confusion spread throughout the arena as to the official verdict, only to be lifted minutes later by the ring announcer: Farenas wins on a technical knockout.
Bruce McTavish, a veteran of many world title fights and perhaps the highest regarded referee in Asia, said afterwards that he saw a punch land, followed by a head clash, followed by blood. As he could not verify which caused the cut, he deferred to the judges at ringside, two of whom said that it was a punch.
Velazquez, a former Manny Pacquiao foe and title challenger, left the ring in anger, dropping to 56-21-3 (38 knockouts) as a professional, while Farenas, 10 years Velazquez's junior at 29, raises his record to 38-4-4 (30 KOs).
The win keeps Farenas' title hopes alive, as the Sorsogon, Philippines, native angles to face WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia, who found himself with an opponent vacancy after talks to fight Yuriorkis Gamboa fell through.
Farenas fought for a title in 2012, settling for a technical draw against WBA junior lightweight titleholder Takashi Uchiyama due to a headbutt, followed by a unanimous decision loss to Gamboa.
Dave Penalosa remains unbeaten after war
Alem Robles can now boast that he has given both Penalosa brothers their toughest fights to date.
Dave Penalosa had to overcome a determined challenge from his Mexican adversary to win a unanimous decision in their six-round fight by the scores of 58-56 on two cards and 59-56 on the third. Still, the bout was no walk in the park for the Cebu City native.
Penalosa, 23, came out aggressive in the first round, landing straight left hands from the southpaw stance that held the momentum early in Round 1. But Robles, who gave Dave’s older brother Dodie Boy Jr. fits in a technical decision loss in December, was unfazed by Penalosa’s power punching and closed the round with a sustained flurry that kept Penalosa pinned to the ropes.
Penalosa (8-0, 5 KOs) came back strong in round two, landing hard body shots that rattled Robles’ ribcage. But rather than fade, Robles (6-5-2, 2 KOs) returned fire, landing hard right hands around Penalosa’s guard. Robles also found success by being first with the jab, negating Penalosa’s southpaw jabs.
The sizable Penalosa contingent had their hearts in their throats in Round 5, when Robles wobbled the hometown fighter and backed him into the ropes. Penalosa survived the assault but began to show swelling around his left eye.
Penalosa entered the sixth and final round needing something big, and found it in the form of a straight left hand between Robles' gloves that landed on the chin and momentarily left Robles without control of his legs. That big shot earned Penalosa the round and the fight.
Former two-division champion Gerry Penalosa, Dave's uncle and promoter, said he was pleased with the fight, adding that this sort of tough challenge will serve to enhance the young fighter's experience.
Penalosa stated that Dave wasn't in the best of shape, hampered by a still-healing left hand that forced him off the undercard of Manny Pacquiao's fight with Brandon Rios in November. Penalosa reportedly was only able to spar 14 rounds in preparation for the fight.