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TKO signs Penalosa Jr.

Story by Robert Hough
Photos by Laura De La Torre

Any promoter’s going to say signing a fighter’s a big deal, but Chet Koerner, President of the fast-growing TKO Promotions backed it up by flying to the San Francisco Bay Area to officially announce that he’d signed Dodie Boy Penalosa Jr. (1-0, 1 KO), the son of former two-time champ Dodie Boy Penalosa Sr.

The 20-year-old Filipino, who makes his U.S. debut May 8 at 122 pounds made his pro debut in January, knocking out Anthony Balubar (0-4) in Manila. He met Nonito Donaire Jr., who along with Cameron Dunkin will co-manage him, when his charismatic countryman was in the Philippines last year. The meeting changed the young man’s life.

“I am thankful to Nonito Donaire and everyone for helping me,” Penalosa, nephew of former two-division champion Gerry Penalosa, said at the press conference, held at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos, about 30 miles south of San Francisco.

Penalosa caught Donaire’s eye when he was training in Bagiuo for his April, 2009 fight against Raul Martinez.

“I did see a lot of talent in him,” said Donaire, 27. “He just fights. He’s not afraid to get hit and he has a lot of heart.”

Donaire, who described Penalosa as being like a younger brother, said he’s refining his s protégé’s boxing ability and helping him get accustomed to life in America.

“Being smart and being strong are the keys to success,” Donaire said. “He’ll know how to fight effectively.”

Penalosa’s the first Filipino signed by Koerner, who has a United Nations of fighters. In ramping up an aggressive schedule of fights with an ambition to promote boxing matches around the world, the Houston-based promoter has signed several Americans and fighters from countries including New Zealand, Zambia, Vietnam, Russia and Ghana.

“Dodie Boy is the first Filipino fighter we’ve signed and we think he fits in perfectly with our plans to help young fighters become world champions,” Koerner said. “We’ll keep him busy with fights and he’s got great people around him helping him improve and get used to life in this country so he’s in a good position.”

Dunkin, who manages Donaire, said he wants Penalosa to fight about eight times in the next year.

“We’ll keep him busy,” Dunkin said. “He’s young, he’s serious and he’s hungry so that won’t be a problem.”

Penalosa, a shy man of few words who’s just made his first trip to the USA, recognizes that the present and the past leave him positioned well for a future in boxing.

"I know I'm carrying the legacy of the Penalosa family," he said. "I'm going to do my best."

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