An unprecedented number of Filipino boxers will be featured on the Top Rank Promotions fight card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 8 (December 9 in Manila).
Led by Manny Pacquiao who is determined to put an end to the controversies surrounding his three previous encounters with four-division Mexican champion Juan Manuel Marquez in an eagerly anticipated showdown, four other Filipino boxers will see action including undefeated Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta who will battle Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez for his International Boxing Federation lightweight title.
Other Filipino fighters on the undercard are southpaw Michael Farenas, a protégé of former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa who takes on undefeated Cuban star Yuriorkis Gamboa in a WBA super featherweight interim title fight, Philippine welterweight champion Dennis Laurente who clashes with American Kenny Abril over ten rounds and undefeated Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr., son of the former two division world champion Dodie Boy Penalosa, Sr. whose opponent hasn’t been named yet.
In a rare twist all five Filipinos are southpaws, which is somewhat of an edge that they seem to cultivate. With five Filipinos on the card, it reflects the growing competitiveness of Filipino fighters on the international boxing scene and the reality that they are an attraction.
It would also appear to indicate the powerful influence Pacquiao and his MP Promotions has over Bob Arum with whom they have a tacit agreement that any Filipino who fights on a Top Rank card where Pacquiao is featured especially, must go through Pacquiao’s promotional outfit where the scheduling is handled by his adviser Michael Koncz who is himself close to Arum.
This is the reason why talented fighters from ALA Promotions can’t get a slot on a Top Rank card with the sole exception being WBO super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire who hasn’t been featured on a Pacquiao card but headlines Top Rank fight cards banking on his own indisputable talent which, as of today, has him ranked No. 5 in the prestigious Ring Magazine pound for pound rankings.
No question, the biggest attraction next Saturday will be Pacquiao while Gesta’s crack at a world title will surely draw considerable attention.
Farenas, Laurente and Dodie Boy Penalosa, Jr. may be considered essential ingredients to an attractive package that is expected to draw a sell-out crowd as indicated by ticket sales which have always done particularly well even if Pacquiao was the sole Filipino on the card.
In his last sparring session at the Wild Card Gym on Saturday, Pacquiao recovered convincingly from a somewhat lackluster showing on Thursday when observers noted he took too many punches from the rugged Frankie Gomez.
On Saturday, as he often does, Pacquiao turned things around in an exciting fashion. With one week to go before he takes on Marquez, strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza told us “Manny looks good, looks sharp and definitely looks ready to go.”
With his charming wife Jinkee among the onlookers, Pacquiao got back at Gomez in a few torrid exchanges during four rounds of sparring before going another four rounds with one of the Roman twins…