Gerry Penalosa – Beating the Boxing Odds

Gerry PenalosaBy Carlo Pamintuan: Very few fighters could do what WBO bantamweight champion Gerry Penalosa (52-6-2, 35 KOs) did on August 11th of last year, at which time the crafty veteran from the Philippines won his second world title in a second division with a 7th round KO of champion Jhonny Gonzalez.

You may say that this is nothing special as winning two titles in two different divisions is becoming normal these days. However, Penalosa’s win is very different. He won his second title a few days after turning 37. What’s more is that he won it against a fighter nine years younger and who was at the peak of his career. Another thing is that Penalosa won his second title more than ten years after winning his first. This is indeed rare in boxing today.

Penalosa was coming off a loss to WBO super bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon before he challenged Jhonny Gonzalez for the bantamweight version of the title. He lost via a unanimous decision where two of the judges gave Penalosa a single round while the other one scored it as a shutout for the defending champion. Many of those in attendance felt that Penalosa deserved much more than what he was given. And because of his valiant stand against de Leon, Penalosa was given the chance to face Gonzalez in the World Cup of Boxing. Gonzalez appeared to be in control of the match as he skillfully kept the much shorter Penalosa at bay with crisp jabs.

Penalosa stayed patient as he continued to walk forward even though he is getting hit by some of Gonzales’ combinations. Then, in the seventh round, Penalosa got an opportunity, when Gonzales launched a wild right that flew over Penalosa’s head. Gonzalez failed to pull his arm back quickly and at that short moment, leaving a hole for Penalosa, who then threw a precise counter left hook to Gonzalez’ body. Gonzalez visibly gasped for air and when he did not catch any, he fell on the canvas. The young champ tried his best to get up but it was apparent that the pain was too much for him to bare. Penalosa collapsed on the floor, banged his gloves on the canvas, got up, and celebrated his sweet victory.

Eight months later, Penalosa is ready to make the first defense of his crown against another veteran in Ratanachai Sor Vorapin of Thailand. These two are no strangers as they have faced off in 2000 with Penalosa getting the win via a sixth round KO.

This promises to be an all-out war as both fighters are not too keen on moving backwards. They have the almost the same built both have KO power. The Thai challenger is coming off seven straight wins albeit four of them were 6-rounders. He also fought Gonzalez but was KO’d in the seventh round. In that match, sor Vorapin was knocked down twice in the third round and once in the sixth. Even with that loss, he still carries a good record with 72 wins with 9 defeats, 48 coming via the short route. It is interesting to note that sor Vorapin has only been stopped twice in his entire career and these two came from the hands of Penalosa and Gonzalez.

Penalosa, on the other hand, has never been knocked out. He prides himself with great defense and an iron jaw. His only losses came from de Leon and two slick fighters in Masanori Tokuyama and In-Joo Choo. Three of his five losses came from painful split decisions. He has long dreamed of another fight with de Leon because he wanted to be the first Asian to hold three titles in three different divisions but his plans were out on hold as Manny Pacquiao earned this distinction when he defeated Juan Manual Marquez to claim the WBC super featherweight title.

Even if his aspirations were derailed by a good friends of his in Pacquiao, it is certain that Penalosa will step inside the ring more prepared than ever before. He knows that a single loss would mean that he will have to hang up his gloves for good. Penalosa’s story is great for boxing. Here was a guy who enjoyed initial success, lost his will to fight because of the consecutive losses, retired, missed the sport, came back, and is now a champion again. Penalosa’s story is definitely on for the ages and he will write another chapter come April 6.

Article posted on 29.03.2008

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