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Michael Farenas: The 'Avoided One' at 130 Pounds

LOS ANGELES--While boxing fans and purists have been salivating, waiting and looking for boxing's great fights to unfold and happen, it is also true that unseen hands have conspired not to make us see these "dream fights" in our short lifetime.

Some matchmakers would try to make fights winnable for their wards. The lesser risk of losing, the better it is for their own cause. Hence, fighters like GGG would find it hard to lock horns with the best of them all.

Middleweight Gennady "GGG" Golovkin has boxing's most awesome record to date, but nobody is calling out his name for obvious reasons, lest someone wants to make a retirement fight. There are, in the sport, a who's-who list of "Most Avoided" because there are some unwritten laws of economics and investments within boxing promotional companies. These unwritten rules oppose pitting guys like Michael Farenas against champions or would-be title contenders.

Nobody has heard much about this shy lad from the Philippines until he made a big statement last year in a fight, a helluva war against another unbeaten fighter named Yuriorkis Gamboa, the Cuban fighting machine.

The scores betrayed the close rounds and the blood and guts that were spilled on the canvas that night. In fact, every sports writer covering the "Pacquiao-Marquez IV" main event started to ask, "Who is this guy again?" That night in December, several people took notice, including some moneyed corporate sponsors who wanted to see this unheralded fighter on top of the ring one more time.

But there is also today's reality. Welcome to Boxing Politics 101. Boxing's little pulpits have politics and politicians as well, and one has to dance, and wine and dine sometimes in order to get a fighter to the top--fast-tracked.

As an understatement, the Gamboa-Farenas fight saw three knockdowns and more thrills than any heavyweight fight of this new generation could produce. In fact, the seemingly invincible Gamboa got knocked down and got bloodied himself in the ninth round and was backpedalling from thereon. With both fighters giving their all, everyone appreciated that fight and began asking, "What's the name of that "other" guy again?"

Farenas has since bounced back from that loss to Gamboa. Because he was probably a nobody, the match was adjudged too lopsidedly in favor of the Cuban superstar even as he had his hands full and his back against the ropes at times.

Farenas has scored a one-round demolition of journeyman Gerardo Sayas in his last fight. But even before that fight, he was promised to vie for at least a regional title or a championship fight should he win.

Farenas did not only win, he even made a statement by demolishing his opponent in seconds! Now, all the talk has become lip-service as this southpaw from faraway Gubat, Sorsogon finds it hard to get matched these days.

"I think the Gamboa fight could have been closer despite the lopsided scores although I could live with that unanimous decision loss," said the 29-year-old Filipino, now more than ever becoming a more complete fighter.

While an up-and-coming fighter from a reputable promotional company has been penciled to fight next month at the Staples Center with a TBA (to be announced) opponent across his name, Farenas doesn't get the call that he has been waiting for. Why? Like Golovkin, who has a 27-0 record and an 89 percent knockout percentage to boot, (the baddest record in all of boxing today), the Kazakh and WBA champion is still looking for recognition and is not even considered as among the top fighters out there. (In fact, he is even at No. 12 in one of the  best pound-for-pound best fighters list in the world.)

Farenas' 44-fight record may not be as immaculate as GGG's but this kid brings a lot of excitement, action and nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat thrills like his compatriot, benefactor and idol Manny Pacquiao, who always comes out to entertain and gives the fans what they come out to see in every match--no running, no pitter-patter punches but slam-bang action from start to finish.

For his efforts that fateful night against Gamboa, an owner of a car dealership in Southern California has sought out to help Farenas in any way, as a fan's tribute to a true ring warrior pays homage to an unheralded hero. Abbas Ahmadi, owner of Mitsubishi Superstores, sets no conditions or contracts, just a gentleman's handshake to honor the sacrifices of a man who dedicates himself to his craft and profession. Ahmadi, who also grew from abject poverty like Farenas, promised to support this obscure fighter until he would probably become champion one day. Because he sees one hard worker and appreciates the hard work he puts into his job, Ahmadi rewarded Farenas unconditionally--with or without any fight in the horizon.

Farenas continues to train at the Wild Card Gym of Freddie Roach under the watchful eye of fellow Filipino trainer Marvin Somodio while his Philippine-based manager Gerry Penalosa, a two-division champion, himself, burns phone lines to look for the best fight for his ward. Like Penalosa, Pacquiao and all of the "Little Brown Dolls" of boxing's past--Flash Elorde and Pancho Villa to name a few--they do not shy away from a good fight. They will face anyone brought in front of them without having to beg.

"I am a fighter. My job is to train for a fight and give the fans their money's worth. I will continue to wait and prepare," said Farenas, who has scored a technical draw in his last bid at a world title--the WBA super-featherweight title opposite Japanese Takashi Uchiyama in 2012. "I hope my time will come soon."

Farenas still hopes to get matched with the best of them and promises to give it all he got, next time around.

That fight is for every fan and follower of the sport of boxing and in honor of the Marquess of Queensbury. Here's to hoping for the best fights to happen, soonest.

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