Gerry Peñalosa knows what it takes
If there’s one former fighter who can break down and appreciate IBF World Super Flyweight champion Jerwin Anacajas’ excellent technical boxing skills, it’s former two-division champion Gerry Peñalosa.
Peñalosa was in the ESPN5 studio to serve as analyst for Ancajas’ conquest of the game Jonas Sultan in Fresno, California. The title fight between two Filipinos was a rarity since it had been 93 years since Pancho Villa won over Clever Sencio for the world flyweight title at Luneta.
Peñalosa had a storied career as WBC super flyweight champion from 1997 to 1998 and WBO bantamweight king from 2007 to 2009. I’m not exactly sure, but it may have been boxing trainer Freddie Roach who once described Peñalosa as one of the best technical fighters.
I had the chance to know Peñalosa up close and personal in 1997 when I was part of a small PTV coverage team that telecast his title defense against Yong Joo Cho in Songnam, South Korea. I saw him struggle to make the weight for the fight as nature was catching up on him.
On the day of the weigh-in, senior Inquirer columnist and TV analyst Recah Trinidad told Peñalosa’s handlers to send the fighter to the showers and turn up the hot water to help in the weight reduction. Peñalosa made the weight and quickly sought me to help him order a meal from room service that would help him recover and bulk up for the fight. He knocked out Cho in the 10th round.
The former champion was impressed with Ancajas’ skills set and patience. “Masipag mag-jab (He uses the jab well),” Peñalosa said of Ancajas who kept Sultan at bay and groping for rhythm. “Mahihirapan si Yafai pag sila ang natuloy na maglaban (Yafai will find it difficult to win if they end up fighting),” Peñalosa added on the assumption that super flyweight titlist Khalid Yafai, who won in an earlier fight against Mexican David Carmona, and Ancajas would battle in a unification match.
Peñalosa finished with a 55-win, 8-loss and two-draw career that included 37 knockouts. He knew exactly when he would hang up his gloves and did so in a 2010 farewell fourth round TKO win against Thai Anan Saeuy in Zamboanga. He does not miss fighting that much given his current management of several gyms around the metropolis that carry his name but has other boxing plans.
“Gusto ko mag-develop ng Filipino world champion. Parang pasasalamat ko sa boxing na nag-bless sa akin (I want to develop a Filipino world champion as my thank you to boxing that has blessed me),” confided Peñalosa during a commercial break in the fight. Such a champion would be nurtured by a true warrior and tactician in Peñalosa who surely knows what it takes to conquer the world.
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