Melissa Hernandez – 4 Time World Champion!
By Ken Hissner at ringside, Doghouse Boxing (July 20, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Mellisa Hernandez

By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing. - You can tell a lot from talking to a person even if it’s via the telephone. I felt the love of the sport through the words of Melissa “Huracan” Hernandez in a recent interview. She has fought in title bouts in 8 of her 20 fights. Her record is 4-1-3 in those matches. She has gone from super bantam to super feather to lightweight in title bouts. She is the current WIBA Lightweight champion.

Hernandez had a good if not short amateur career. Unlike men’s boxing there are just not enough female boxers to get a lot of experience with in the amateurs or professionals. She was 23 when she started boxing at the Webster PAL in the New York Bronx. She has won tournaments in NY, FL, GA, and on a National level to go 14-2. In 2004 she won the National PAL, the NY GG and the National GG in 2005 amongst her best achievements. Her trainer from her third amateur bout until her last 2 professional fights was Belinda Laracuente.

The “Huracan” turned professional at 25 defeating a Chinese amateur champion, Zhang Mao Mao, 1-0, at the Hilton Hotel, in New York by a 4 round decision, in October of 2005. In her next bout in 2006 she scored a stoppage in less than a minute over Jennifer Johnson, 0-1, in SC. Several months later she would defeat debuting Merced Nunez in the state of WA.

After but 3 bout and 9 rounds Hernandez was put in with the IFBA International Boxers Association featherweight champion Kelsey Jeffries, 33-9., in OR. It was the fourth defense of Jeffries title and she was coming off a WBC super bantam title loss in Mexico. With an advantage of 42 fights to 3, Jeffries was looking for an easy rebound fight. She got anything but easy.

A slip, ruled as a knockdown in the eighth round is the only reason Hernandez didn’t walk away with the title. She scored a knockdown of her own in the tenth and final round. The final decision was a draw after 10 rounds. That’s 20 minutes of boxing instead of the 8 minutes she had experienced in 2 of her other fights. This was quite an accomplishment and a confidence builder for her early in her career. In 2 of her last 4 fights Jeffries, from CA, had fought in OR, which was for the third time. “I fought a legend to a draw in my fourth fight,” said Hernandez.

After a 6 round win and a third round stoppage, Hernandez again found herself fighting for a title, the vacant WIBA (World International Boxing Association) super bantamweight title, in Alberta, CAN, against Lisa Brown, 12-2-3, of CAN. Brown, originally from Trinidad, had been in 5 title bouts and a win over then Jackie Chavez, 9-0, for the same WIBA title which she would lose and draw for. Hernandez dropped from 130 to 119 in just over 2 months since her last fight to make weight. The pace was so terrific with the speed of Hernandez gaining her the edge that “I didn’t know if I was ahead or not at the end,” said Hernandez. The scores were in her favor by 96-94 twice and 98-92 for her first world title at the super bantamweight limit.

In 2007 Hernandez opened with the most experienced boxer she has fought to this day in Layla McCarter, 22-12-5, for the Global Boxing Union lightweight title. Her weight jumped from 119 to 134 in just 3 months to accommodate McCarter. Hernandez retired at the end of the eighth round. “I injured my right hand,” said Hernandez. McCarter had defeated Belinda Laracuente for the Global title. She defeated Donna Biggers, 18-3-1, in her previous fight.

It would be 2 ½ months later when Hernandez and McCarter re-matched. The rematch was also in Las Vegas, NV. Though Hernandez came in at 130, she was still able to defeat the heavier McCarter this time by majority decision, 78-74, 77-75 and 76-76, for the Global Boxing Union lightweight title. This match was over 8 rounds but for 3 minutes each. The previous fight was 12 rounds and 2 minutes each. This would be her second world title victory. “I was happy to revenge my loss,” said Hernandez.

It would be 8 months before Hernandez would fight again and take on tough Chevelle Hallback, 26-5-1, for the vacant IFBA International Boxers Association lightweight title. Hallback had a pair of wins over McCarter and one over Mellisa Del Valle, 27-2-1, at the time. Her only loss by stoppage was against future world champion Lucia Rijker, in her second fight. Though in overall points Hernandez would have an edge, 94-97, 95-95, 97-93, the bout was declared a draw after 10 rounds. “She was a hard hitter,” said Hernandez.

In her next fight Hernandez was up against the NABF super featherweight champion Melissa Fiorentino, 17-1, whose only loss was a title bout in Japan in 2004. Both fighters were just over the super featherweight limit. Hernandez would stop Fiorentino when referee Danny Schiavone called a halt due to right eye cut in favor of Hernandez. That was in June of 2008 and Fiorentino hasn’t fought since.

Next up for Hernandez would be Ela Nunez, 8-3, for the vacant WIBA International Boxing Association super featherweight title. All 3 judges had it 97-93 in favor of Hernandez. In May of 2009 she would take on Jeri Sitzes, 14-8-1, in Las Vegas, NV, taking a 60-54 and 59-55 (twice) decision over 6 rounds. “She was a competitive kick boxer and could take a punch.

Hernandez would travel to Panama City, PAN, stopped Ambar Fajardo, 6-0, of Panama in the fifth round of an 8. “She had a built up record,” said Brian Cohen. “I came right from the airport to press conference,” said Hernandez. She was slated to meet southpaw Holly Holm, 25-1-3, in her home state of NM, moving up 3 weight classes. She would also be giving up at least 5” in height and came in a pound over weight. This would be her first time with Brian Cohen who is now her manager.

“When we got there Holm already had her hands taped without any of us being presence. That is against the rules. With all that has been going on in boxing at the time they should have known better. They had all kinds of excuses about being out of tape and gauze so we offered to supply them with it and they refused, so we refused to fight,” said Cohen. Within 10 minutes a substitute boxer was produced. Strange? Hernandez was suspended and had a hearing a month later time and was taken off suspension.

In February of 2010 she would have a rematch with Nunez, now 9-5-1, in Aston, PA. She would take a 60-54 and 59-55 (twice) decision over 6 rounds. The contract was for 128 but Nunez came in at 134 to the 126 of Hernandez. Her manager allowed it and it worked to her advantage.

In the main event at Evansville, IND, Hernandez was upset by Lindsay Garbatt, 4-3, by majority decision over 8 rounds. “I was out of shape and it was a rude awakening. I learned I cannot get comfortable,” said Hernandez.

Aiming to get a fight with Hollly Holm, Hernandez went to NM, and defeated Victoria Cisneros, 5-9-2, for the interim WIBA International Boxing Association lightweight title, over 8 rounds. “I wish I had a tape of this fight. They started throwing punches from the opening bell to the end. Cisneros is a beautiful woman who looked like Frankenstein when it was over,” said Cohen.

In October of 2010 a rematch with Lindsay Garbatt, 5-3, in NM, for the vacant Global Boxing Union and WIBA International Boxing Association super featherweight titles over 10 rounds. Both boxers were at 131 in their previous fight so no title was at stake. This time Hernandez was 128 and Garbatt 129. At the end of the contest Hernandez got the first judge’s score 98-92. It looked like she finally got the best of Garbatt. The other 2 scores came in at 95-95 to the surprise of everyone. Was it because of the turmoil with Holm? “I thought I won this fight,” said Hernandez.

Just over a month later a “keep busy” fight in Charlotte, NC, produced an easy fourth round stoppage of DJ Morrison, 2-7, for Hernandez, in January of 2011. This was her first fight under new trainer Matt Baramonte.

On 24 hours notice in June she would travel to Edmonton, Alberta, CAN, to take on Jelena Mrdjenovich, 24-7-1, whom Hernandez once trained years before. Each boxer received a 77-75 score in their favor. The third judge was also 77-75 for Hernandez improving her record to 15-2-3, with 5 knockouts.

“A lot of people do not agree with female boxing. They should get paid the same as male boxers. They come in shape and are usually the fight of the night. They should get the respect they deserve. She is one of the hardest workers male or female I have ever seen. I had her in training camp in New Mexico, prior to the Cisneros fight and she was amazing,” said Cohen.

“I am trained by Matt Baramonte and managed by Brian Cohen. We don’t have time to be like men boxers,” said Hernandez. She turned 31 in February and is willing to fight anyone. “She should fight in Trinidad on July 29th or August 13th in Lima, Peru,” said Cohen. It has been 5 years since Kelsey Jeffries stated “she will be champion someday”! Not only was that fulfilled but she has won 4 world titles. “The Huracan” was born in Puerto Rico and now training at Angelo Dundee’s Fifth Street Gym is looking forward to a fifth world title!


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