In a special Wednesday edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights," a pair of talented junior lightweights will square off to celebrate the 38th birthday of rapper-turned-promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, whose SMS Promotions is presenting the event.
Unbeaten Mark "Too Sharp" Davis (18-0, 5 KOs) and Filipino puncher Michael Farenas (38-4-4, 30 KOs) will meet in a 12-round bout headlining the card at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
The fighters enter a crucial test that serves as a 130-pound title eliminator. The winner will be the mandatory challenger to the July 10 title rematch between Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy.
Davis, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, was an outstanding amateur boxer with over 200 fights and was a gold medal winner at the national championships in 2005. As a professional, he is unbeaten yet relatively untested. In his last bout in September 2013, he won a comfortable points decision over Carlos Vivan.
Meanwhile, Farenas, 30, of the Phillipines, is a veteran of 47 fights and has never been stopped. He enters the bout having won his last four fights by knockout, each time in under three rounds.
Farenas is best known for knocking down Yuriorkis Gamboa in their junior lightweight interim title bout in December 2012 before going on to lose by decision. Before that fight, Farenas fought to a draw in Japan against titlist Takashi Uchiyama.
In his last fight in March, Farenas defeated Mexican veteran Hector Velazquez by second-round TKO in Manila, an opponent best remembered for his losses against Edwin Valero and Manny Pacquiao.
Farenas is a quick, aggressive southpaw with very good footwork who is always moving his body to find the right position to unleash his combinations. He hits very hard with both hands, and his favorite punch is the hook to the body. That is how he knocked out Filipino Just Bornilla in the fourth round in 2004 and how he dominated Mexico's Fernando Beltran in July 2011.
Under the guidance of former world champion Gerry Penalosa, and after finishing his preparation in Freddie Roach's acclaimed Wild Card Gym, Farenas is ready for what his team considers the big jump forward in his career.
In order to secure the mandatory title challenge, Farenas will need to deal with the technically sound Davis, who moves quickly and surprises opponents with his combinations. When he defends, Davis relies on moving his body to dodge punches, and at times he leans back against the ropes and lifts his left shoulder, similar to Floyd Mayweather Jr., to keep punches away.
Davis throws a lot of punches in each round and relies on volume to sway the judges' eyes. The main ingredient he has lacked up until now is power behind his punches, which explains his five knockouts in 18 pro fights.
In the co-main event, former featherweight titlist Billy Dib (36-3, 21 KOs) of Australia moves up in weight to face former title challenger Alberto Garza (26-7-1, 21 KOs) of Mexico.