Before Michael Faragon even made his pro debut last November, on the undercard of the Cotto-Mosely bout, he was already in good hands. Although his amateur career ended with a disappointing loss in an Olympic regional box-off, he was quickly signed by Shelly Finkel to manage his career path. And in October, he signed on with Golden Boy Promotions to further propel his pro career forward. Not a bad duo to guide a boxer just two years removed from his high school graduation.
With Finkel and Oscar in his corner, Faragon’s career began on the biggest stage of all: Madison Square Garden. His first victory might have occurred at the Garden, but many smaller triumphs, in and out of the ring, put him in the position to make such a high profile debut. The casebook on Michael Faragon is simply about hard work and luck. Luck can be a two way street and Faragon’s walked on both sides in his 20 years.
Born in Syracuse, New York, his birth certificate lists him as Michael Cunningham. An unstable family life marked his early years as his father was in and out of prison. His loving mother, Kim, did all she could to shield her son from the abuse inflicted on her when Michael’s father was at home. Kim worked two or three jobs to keep things afloat and good fortune struck when she landed with Verizon, who promptly transferred her to Albany.
Away from the father he barely knew, away from the threat of abuse, Michael had his first sense of security at age seven. He took up kick-boxing at a local gym and was immediately recognized as a child with talent. A few years passed and as his kick-boxing improved, one phone call would change his life. Andy Faragon, a kick-boxer, invited Michael to the gym he owned in Schenectady, New York.
Andy and Michael switched their focus to boxing. Andy became the father figure always missing from his life. Boxing may have been the bond that brought them together, but their connection went beyond the ring. Andy was quite aware of the difficulties Kim had in raising Michael and his two half-siblings as a single mom. With Kim’s blessing, Michael moved to Schenectady in the 6th grade to live with Andy’s family. He was welcomed with love by Andy’s wife June and their two young children. The stable family life that had eluded him for years was now his.
Four years of tranquility passed as Michael and Andy’s relationship deepened into a son-father relationship. With his mother’s blessing, Michael was legally adopted by Andy as he prepared to enter 10th grade. He changed his surname to Faragon and became part of very large, extended family. “I was embraced by the Faragon family immediately,” Michael recalls.
The father-son bond began in the gym and evolved as Michael took to boxing, with Andy by his side as trainer. Michael had his first bout at 14 and when his amateur career ended in the summer of 2007, he had received numerous national awards, befitting his 85-15 record. With a pro career around the corner, Michael stepped up his training regimen: running five miles at 6am, followed by alternating days of grueling wind sprints and double sparring sessions. “The sprints give my lungs extra energy for the final 20 seconds of each round,” Faragon commented. Weight hasn’t been a problem. He walks around at 145 lbs and has no trouble getting down to the “catch” weight he’s been fighting at, 137.
Although Faragon is a natural righty, he fights with power from both hands. He showed some of this power in his pro debut in November with a convincing four round unanimous decision over Javier Garcia. He describes himself as an “inside” fighter or as his dad calls it “belly-button to belly-button in-fighting” which he unfortunately deviated away from during his second pro fight on Friday’s Telefutura card in Cicero, Illinois. After dominating the opening two rounds by throwing numerous combinations against Heriberto Ponce, Faragon began the third, according to his father, by going “head-hunting.” Lunging and throwing off balance head shots allowed Ponce to get back into bout, but Faragon went back to the body in the 4th and won a majority decision.
Andy Faragon gave his son a “B” for his performance. Michael, a self described “mellow man”, was happy with the win, but disappointed that he didn’t stick to his game plan. Yet, only two fights into his pro career, he hopes to share his success with GBP potential stable-mate Danny Jacobs, a friend from the amateurs. “It would be sweet if Danny and I can fight on the same cards as we move up,” Michael told TSS a day before the fight.
The biggest decision facing Michael Faragon is whether to fight at 135 or 140lbs. If this is the only problem on his plate, good for him. His answer when asked what he enjoyed most, from turning pro with the backing from Finkel and Golden Boy, was quite simple. “Doing something I love and getting paid for it,” he said. He paused a moment, then let his guard down, sounding like a normal 20 year-old. “And I don’t have to get a job,” he quietly said, chuckling.
We should all be so lucky. But the reality is Michael Faragon is a casebook study of a young man who overcame the stacked odds dealt him. And with the support of his “new family” and mother Kim, he seems poised to begin the climb up the ladder as all prospects must do. Upon hearing that Oscar, his promoter, had won a title in his 12th pro fight, Faragon pondered this for a moment and said calmly, “Talk to me about it after 20 fights.” Regardless of what happens in his boxing career, Faragon has more than enough victories outside the ring to make his supporters quite proud.
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?