After last week’s edition of
“Friday Night Fights,” a certified snoozer, ESPN2 looks to have a much more
entertaining card this week from the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa when
lightweights Jose Hernandez and Rustam Nugaev tussle. For Hernandez, it's
another tough fight coming off his big victory over the undefeated Tony Luis
back in January. But what else is new?
Since this guy turned professional
as a teenager of 17, he hasn't had a lot of soft touches.
In fact, he's traveled one
of the toughest roads in all of boxing (boxrec.com/list id=253440
While many young boxers are fed jars of Gerber for the first few years,
Hernandez was given steak early on. After starting his career with six straight
wins, he then started facing prospects like Matt Remillard (10-0 at the time).
From then on, he has faced a steady gauntlet of solid fighters as the B-side (many
times on short notice).
His record now stands at
14-6-1 (6). Hernandez may not be undefeated and have a glossy record but what
he has is a certain type of seasoning often missing in today's game. It was one
of the reasons he was able to overcome Luis, who came into their contest at
15-0 but was drowned in the deep waters by the experienced Hernandez.
“I mean, I've been fighting
since I was seven years old,” he told Maxboxing last week. “I've been in the
game for quite awhile and I know the ins and outs of the game and how to fight.
I wasn't really ready for that fight but I knew going into the fight, I had
seen a few of [Luis’] videos and I knew right away I could take the guy right
away. He was undefeated but I was a more seasoned fighter.”
Win-loss records in boxing
can be the most deceiving ones in all of sports. A fighter with a multitude of
losses may be a more worthy fighter than one unblemished solely on the
respective opposition he has faced. Also, certain prospects, because of who
they are aligned with promotionally or managed by, are given a certain cocoon.
There is nothing quite like the false sense of security like having an
undefeated record in this sport.
“Yeah, I would say it,”
agreed Hernandez. “It just depends on how they go around it. A lot of fighters,
a lot of undefeated fighters, you see their records, the people that they're
fighting, they have like 30 losses and they only have a few wins.”
Looking at Hernandez’s
ledger, you see solid names like Remillard, Noe Bolanos, Juanito Garcia, Sharif
Bogere, Oscar Meza, Luis Ramos Jr., Robert Osiobe, Mickey Bey and Michael
Perez. This schedule has forged a hard-nosed fighter but unfortunately, one typecast
as a B-side or an opponent.
Noted manager Frank
Espinoza, who signed Hernandez last year, says, “If I was handling him from the
beginning, I really think he'd be at a different place in his career. Yeah, you
want tough fights but you want them at the right time and under the right
circumstances. Honestly, it just doesn't make sense to keep throwing a talented
young kid into one tough fight after another. You don't give them time to
develop and grow. And after awhile, you lose too many fights. As a manager, it
limits your options. That's the reality.”
When Hernandez is asked if
he wishes he could start his career over and map it out more conventionally, he
states, “It never mattered to me because I knew having those types of hard
fights would give me the experience. But it would be something good; it would
be a nice thing. But it's not something I'd recommend because they never get
that experience, that chance to mature for the tougher fights later on in their
Hernandez has the mentality
every fighter needs but sometimes, discretion is truly the better part of
valor. It's why they need managers to guide their careers.
As Espinoza, who also
handles the careers of Abner Mares, Antonio Orozco, Diego Magdaleno, Daniel
Ponce de Leon and Oscar Valdez, points out, “When you have a good looking
record, it's easier to get on TV. It's easier for me to push a guy to a
promoter. Now, I knew what I was getting into with Jose. I knew that I would
have to take some risks I normally wouldn't with some of my other fighters. I
certainly would not have allowed him to have taken so many fights on short
notice. Honestly, he's probably not going to be allowed to have easier fights
with his record. But at the same time, I have a tough seasoned veteran.”
In the 30-year-old Nugaev,
Hernandez is facing a kindred spirit. Nugaev has a record of 24-6-1 (14) and
has always been a durable, tough out. Two fights ago, like Hernandez, he
stopped an undefeated fighter (Jonathan Maicelo, who came in with a record of
19-0) in eight rounds.
“I'm expecting a real good
fight. I know the guy is tough. I know he comes straight forward. I'm exactly
that same type of fighter. I have a lot of experience and I notice that he has
10 more fights of professional experience than me but I have a lot of amateur
experience so that doesn't bother me,” said Hernandez.
He's still just 26 years
old. Based on the rough terrain he's traveled, Hernandez just seems older.
“It's the reason why I
signed him,” said Espinoza. “I knew that there were certain challenges in
taking over a career like this but I thought he was worth a shot. I know I'm
getting a guy who will never turn down a fight and a guy whose best boxing
might be in front of him.”
Hernandez agrees with his
manager’s last sentiment. “Oh, yes, very, very much. I never really had time to
get ready for my fights before. But now that I have the Espinoza Boxing Club
behind me, better management, I have time to get ready for these fights. There
were a lot of times where I would be in the gym and I'd be getting ready for a
fight and the fights would fall off. But I never had those secure fights behind
me. I never had that secure date, the personnel, like management to secure
those fights for me.
“Now with Espinoza, everything's a lot better. Everything runs a lot better, a
lot smoother. So I have that time to get ready for those fights.”
For this bout, Hernandez had
nearly two months to prepare for Nugaev. Well, that certainly beats the fights where
he had all of seven days (or less) to get ready.
“Yeah, exactly, man,” he
says, laughing. “Man, I feel great. My body feels great; my legs feel great.
Everything feels great and I feel really good about this fight.”
It was announced on Twitter (where
else?) that Tim Bradley (@Timbradleyjr) had decided to enroll in VADA and would
be going ahead with his October 12th bout with Juan Manuel Marquez.
Now the question is, by
doing this, is he putting himself in harm’s way? Because it doesn't seem like
Marquez is holding himself to the same standard (after agreeing to do so).
Here's the latest edition of
“The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
So is Alex Ariza no longer
part of Team Pacquiao? It appears so...It looks like HBO will be doing a Nonito
Donaire/Mikey Garcia doubleheader on November 9th...Is it just me or
have there been more key injuries in NFL training camps than other years?...Has
anyone gone out and canceled Time Warner Cable yet? This CBS/Showtime embargo
isn't going to go into football season; right?...
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