Gerry to stage comeback?

By Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Two-time world boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa is seriously considering a comeback and might just face unbeaten Mexican Abner Mares in the undercard of the Sugar Shane Mosley-Sergio Mora mainer at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 18.

Peñalosa, 37, said his manager Billy Keane is in talks with Golden Boy for a slot in the Mosley-Mora card. He expects a confirmation any day now. If the fight is a go, Peñalosa will leave for Los Angeles within the week to set up training camp at the Wild Card Gym with Freddie Roach.

“I love boxing,” said Peñalosa. “It’s my life. But I also want to spend more quality time with my wife and two kids. I’ll wait for what Billy suggests, what the offer is. My dream is to retire a world champion. If a fight against Mares will lead me to realizing that dream, I’ll take it.”

Peñalosa said Mares’ youth isn’t a big deal. Mares, 24, was only three years old when the Filipino turned pro in 1989. By the time Mares made his pro debut in 2005, Peñalosa had already logged 53 bouts.

“I’ve called out Mares before so now that there’s a chance we’ll be fighting, maybe it’s destiny,” said Peñalosa. “I’m not afraid of Mares. I know he’s tough and unbeaten. But I don’t think he’s met anyone as experienced as me.”

Mares, a former Olympian, has a 20-0-1 record, with 13 KOs compared to Peñalosa’s 54-8-2, with 36 KOs. Last May, he battled Yonnhy Perez to a draw in an IBF bantamweight title bout. Mares has so far beaten two Filipinos – Robert Allanic by retirement in 2007 and Diosdado Gabi by knockout in 2008.

Last February, Peñalosa lost a split 12-round decision to Puerto Rico’s Eric Morel in a WBO bantamweight title eliminator. In his previous bout, Peñalosa was halted by Juan Manuel Lopez in a bid for the WBO superbantamweight championship.

Peñalosa was at ringside when his protégé Michael Farenas knocked out Indonesia’s Simson Butar Butar at 2:19 of the second round in the Mandaluyong City Gym last Friday night. Called into the ring to address the big crowd, Peñalosa said he wasn’t sure of continuing his career but promised that whatever his decision, it would be with his fans and family in mind.

Farenas landed a short left hook to the jaw that sent Butar Butar sprawling on the canvas. Referee Ferdie Estrella counted out the Indonesian whose previous knockout victims included Filipinos Czar Amonsot (twice), Vinvin Rufino and Van Dantilan. The win raised Farenas’ record to 28-3-3, with 25 KOs.

Farenas got caught with a shot to the face during a fierce toe-to-toe exchange in the first round. Then, he adjusted his offense in the second, using his right jab to set up Butar Butar instead of engaging head-on. The trick worked. The right jab threw off Butar Butar’s rhythm and created an opening for Farenas’ uppercut. After Farenas rocked Butar Butar’s head back with a right uppercut to the chin, he delivered the coup de grace that connected flush on the jaw.

Peñalosa and wife Goody were mobbed by fans at ringside.

Promoter Elmer Anuran, who staged the Mandaluyong card, said he will accompany Peñalosa to Los Angeles if the trip pushes through. His plan is to introduce his fighter Drian Francisco, the WBA No. 1 superflyweight contender, to Golden Boy.

“Drian is known as the Golden Fist so I think he’s a fit for Golden Boy,” said Anuran. “We want a shot at the WBA title now held by Hugo Cazares. Drian is the mandatory challenger but we understand Cazares is asking for an optional defense against a choice contender. We’re hoping Golden Boy can arrange the fight before the year ends.”

Anuran said if Cazares isn’t available, Francisco may take on No. 2 contender Duangpetch Saengmorakot of Thailand in Manila.

“Nonito Donaire is relinquishing his interim WBA championship and we’d like Drian to fight for the vacant title against Duangpetch with the winner to challenge Cazares next,” said Anuran. “We’re prepared to make an offer to host the title fight in Manila but we’re also prepared to fight in Mexico.”

Another boxing stable owner Aljoe Jaro was in Mandaluyong and he announced plans for WBC No. 1 contender Denver Cuello to fight on Aug. 1 in Bacolod City and on Sept. 29 against former IBF champion Mohammad Rachman of Indonesia in Iligan City.

“ Denver has the best chance of any Filipino fighter today to become the next Manny Pacquiao,” said Jaro. “We want to challenge WBA champion Roman Gonzalez of Nicaragua – whether in Manila or in Mexico where he usually fights. The big names are avoiding Denver but we can’t stay idle. Denver will keep busy while we negotiate for a title shot.”

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