It has been a little over two months since Yuriyorkis Gamboa survived the resilience of Michael Fareñas during the undercard of the Pacquiao-Marquez IV clash in Las Vegas, and already he is deep into training, but this time he is trying something new. On the first day of his immersion at the renowned Punch Out Boxing Club in Makati City, the former World Professional Boxing Federation (WPBF) Featherweight champion was already feeling the pinch of the new routine which centers on core training, stamina and speed.
After having done his morning run in Parañaque City prior to the afternoon’s session, Fareñas began with weight lifts; an exercise that surprised me as it is universally known that boxers hardly do any weight training, if at all.
“I saw the look on your face when you saw Michael doing weights,” Punch Out Boxing Club’s Chief Operating Officer Mike Ochosa told me. “The weights he was lifting were very light and is not used to build muscles. There are weights for building muscles and there are weights used primarily for resistance. Michael did a set resistance weights today.”
Fareñas, under the tutelage of former world bantamweight king Gerry Peñalosa, then went on to do a full hour of the core training even using heavy elastic bands and pull-ups in what looked to be more of plyometric conditioning rather than boxing training.
“Nung kalaban ko kasi si Gamboa alam kong kaya ko naman sana siyang tapatan, (When I fought Gamboa, I knew I could match him),” Fareñas explained. “Pero nung bandang dulo na, hindi ko na siya mahabol kasi napagod ako. Hindi na rin siya nagpapahabol kasi alam niyang lamang na siya. (But towards the end, I couldn’t catch him anymore because I was really tired. He also avoided me because he knew he was already ahead on points.)”
It was this turn of events that prompted Peñalosa to approach Ochosa on developing a training regimen that would address this and many other points for the pugilist from Sorsogon.
“Gerry (Peñalosa) told me that he wanted Fareñas to improve on his build, his strength and improve on his ‘legs’,” Ochosa, who was privileged to be among the Philippine broadcasters sent to cover the Pacquiao-Marquez IV encounter. “The solution I came up with is to develop Michael’s core, stability and stamina and all of this is on top of his training as a boxer.”
After Fareñas completed the gruelling hour of core training he immediately proceeded to do twelve rounds in the traditional boxing circuit beginning with shadow-boxing then ending with a strenuous punch-mitt session with his trainer, Carlos Peñalosa, the eldest of the boxing brood.
Fareñas was visibly winded after the opening ordeal, but was extremely upbeat about the whole experience.
“Umpisa pa lang ito, pagod nga ako, pero alam kong pagpinursigi ko pa ito eh lalakas din ako para sa susunod kong laban sa Marso (This is just the start, and I’m tired, but I know that if I just keep at it I will be stronger for my next fight this March,)” Fareñas exclaimed.
Although the proposed opponent for Fareñas is still up in the air, Top Rank Boxing told Peñalosa he will be fighting in the undercard of the Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios-Mike Alvarado Super Lightweight rematch at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on March 30.
“Sabi sa akin ng Top Rank (Boxing) na siguradong may slot si Michael sa laban na yun, (I was told by Top Rank that Michael is assured of a slot in that card),” Peñalosa disclosed in a phone conversation. “Naghihintay na lang kami kung sinong ilalaban, pero sure na na lalaban si Michael sa Vegas sa Marso. (We’re just waiting for who will be fighting, but it’s sure that Michael will fight in Vegas this March).”
Punch Out Boxing Club’s Milan Tabalan, a certified fitness instructor has the unenviable task of sculpting Fareñas into the fighter who will continue shaking the boxing world.
“Tignan mo bukas, hindi na makakatakbo yan (See tomorrow, he won’t even be able to run),” Tabalan joked after what Fareñas went through.
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“What we’re doing with Michael is nothing new,” Ochosa continues. “It is very similar to the way Juan Manuel Marquez trained in preparation for the Pacquiao fight. But in the case of Marquez, he was only preparing for that one punch for Manny. It was a one dimensional approach to a fight. Michael is training for not only his next bout, but also to mold him into the boxer he is more than capable of being.
“When Michael leaves for the United States at the end of the month, his core training will continue because Milan (Tabalan) writes down the entire program and will pass it on to the trainers in Wild Card (Gym, where Fareñas will continue preparing for the fight). Gerry is also monitoring Michael’s progress as Milan’s reports show where he is in his training.”
Fareñas is only 5’6” tall and is relatively short to be campaigning in the Super Featherweight division where fighters can stand up to 5’10”. That’s why Ochosa believes that this is the best time for Fareñas to win the crown.
“You and I, Noel, have covered many fights before and we know that boxing is a speed sport,” says Ochosa, who was actually my first partner when I began my broadcasting career in boxing in 2005. “If Michael can develop that speed, stamina and core power gradually and definitely, he can overcome any disadvantages his lack of height presents. He will gain so much from fixing some very minor issues in his fighting style and defense. This is a process that can go on for as much as six to eight months, but at the end of the program, Michael will be at the top of his game.”
The loss to Gamboa was only Fareñas’ fourth setback in 42 professional fights that also has four draws but 34 victories with 26 coming by way of knockout. In two of the draws in the career of Fareñas, the fight had to be stopped due to cuts he sustained from head-butts. One boxing analyst noted that Fareñas had “really thin skin at the area near his eyes”. His 2008 loss to Marlon Aguilar in Mexico also saw the Filipino bloodied above the eye. Fareñas is what boxing experts refer to as a “bleeder”; a person who has a tendency to get cut easily from head-butts, especially in the area near the eyes. Ochosa believes his training will lessen the chance of that happening in the future.
“One of the things that Gerry noticed about Michael is his tendency to get hit a lot,” Ochosa explains. “Yes, Michael does hit hard as well, but also receives a lot of hits. This training will also help Michael with his reaction-time to many punches thrown. Imagine if some of the punches he absorbed in the past were mere ‘glancing blows’, the outcome of some of his losses and draws may have been different. He will make opponents miss more by improving on his reaction-time and this could spell the difference in his upcoming fights.”
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Michael Fareñas showed the world he was ready for the big-time by keeping Yoriyorkis Gamboa’s hands full last December. Whoever it is he will be going up against this March, he will be going up against a Filipino fighter who has a new sense of purpose and will come into the ring with renewed vigor and a fresh mission. At 28, the doors may not yet be closing for Fareñas, but he has to make most of all his opportunities; both in the squaring circle and in the gym. If anyone has exhibited a superior work ethic in training, it’s Michael Fareñas.
Looks like the Philippines may just have another potential world champion waiting in the wings. If he delivers at Mandalay Bay this March, Michael Fareñas’ new training regimen will become the blueprint for the future of Philippine boxing.
Follow Noel Zarate on Twitter: @NoelZarate
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.