MANILA, Philippines – Hector Velazquez stood on the stage wrapped in a white towel with an incredulous look on his face. After weighing five pounds over the 130 pound limit on his first attempt, the scale read 133.5 the second time.
Michael Farenas, the man he will face tonight at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan, Philippines, had made 130 on the first attempt.
It was the first time in 80 pro fights that he had missed weight for a fight, and if he was putting on an act of bemusement then he was selling it well.
"I don't know, maybe he's a magic man," said promoter Gerry Penalosa, when asked whether he could cut the five pounds. "He's a professional, I think he can make it."
Noticing a 15-pound weight bench plate nearby, Velazquez placed it on the scale to see if it was off. Indeed, once the bar was leveled on the scale, the reading said 14 pounds. Still, it doesn't account for the additional weight that registered on the scale.
These are the kinds of incidents that can completely alter a boxing event the day before, as no fight is certain until both combatants are in the ring. An entire show can fall through over a single fighter's miscue, leaving promoters, television networks and undercard fighters hanging.
Luckily for all parties involved, Velazquez finally made weight on his fourth attempt after running through Manila's Mandaluyong City covered in a plastic sweat suit, clocking in at 130 pounds, saving 10 percent of his purse and allowing him to wear the same eight ounce gloves as Farenas.
The 29-year-old Farenas (37-4-4, 29 knockouts), of Sorsogon, Philippines, and 39-year-old Velazquez (56-20-3, 38 KOs), of Tijuana, Mexico, will face off in the 10-round main event of the second venture of MAG Pacman Promotions, which is run by the former two-division champion Penalosa, Manny Pacquiao and Manila-based businessman Anson Tiu Co.
Penalosa, who has guided Farenas' career for the last several years, says that they aren't looking past Velazquez, a durable journeyman with notable losses to Pacquiao and deceased former champion Edwin Valero, but insisted that it wasn't a matter of "if" his guy wins, but "when."
"I think [Farenas] is concentrating for tomorrow's fight," said Penalosa. "I hope he gives a good fight so we can move forward. We wanted to test Farenas, Velazquez is an experienced fighter. He's good.
A win for Farenas keeps hope alive for a run at another title shot. Farenas had two opportunities to secure a belt in 2012, but saw his first shot at WBA 130 pound titleholder Takashi Uchiyama end prematurely in a technical draw. Later that year, Farenas dropped Gamboa late in the fight but lost a unanimous decision.
Penalosa says that Top Rank had told him to keep Farenas ready, as WBO junior lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 knockouts) is in need of an opponent for a summer clash after talks to match him with Gamboa fell through.
"If they're not scared, if the fight isn't too hard for them, they should take it," said Penalosa.
Next generation Penalosa
Who is the better Penalosa brother – Dodie Boy Jr. or Dave?
That issue will begin to gain some clarity when Dave Penalosa (7-0, 5 KOs) faces Mexico’s Alem Robles (6-4-2, 2 KOs) in the co-featured fight on Friday's card.
Robles gave Dave’s older brother Dodie Boy his most difficult test to date in December, extending him to the seventh-round before losing on a technical decision due to a Penalosa cut caused by a headbutt.
The brothers are the sons of former two-division champion Dodie Boy Penalosa and the nephews of Gerry Penalosa.
The bantamweight Dave Penalosa, 23, is considered by critics to be the tougher of the two brothers, though that perception may be due to the large quantity of tattoos that adorn his body.
Dave is coming off a left hand injury that forced him off the undercard of Pacquiao's November fight against Brandon Rios.
Dodie Boy Sr., when asked which of his sons would have the better performance against Robles, said: "Maybe Dave will do better. This guy, even if he hurts his hand, he keeps punching. Even if it breaks off."
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.