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Medina Fights for More than Himself

Michael Medina & Baby Josephine
Michael Medina & Baby Josephine

There are plenty of reasons why boxers do what they do. When Rocky Balboa’s would-be wife, Adrian, asked this question of him on their first date (in a memorable scene at a closed ice skating rink they had all to themselves in the original “Rocky”), the hard-luck pugilist replied, “Because I can’t sing or dance.” This punchline is another way of saying they do it because they may not have a lot of other options. Ironically, it’s the only thing many of them were meant to do. Boxers can be a selfish lot - and that’s not an indictment on any of them. The reality is that in many instances, they have to be, just by the nature of the sport they participate in.
For Michael Medina, who faces Willie Nelson in the co-feature of tonight’s edition of “Friday Night Fights” (ESPN2, 9 p.m., ET/6 p.m., PT), that all changed on December 13th, 2012.

It was on this day when he became a first time father with the introduction of his brand new daughter. Medina now fights for more than just himself. “Most definitely,” he confirmed last Saturday afternoon before his day’s work at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. “I got a lot of things to fight for, my family - which I’ve always had - now the new addition to my family, my little baby, Josephine, is a great motivation for me.”
They say your life changes when you have a child. It’s cliché but guess what? It’s also very true. “Totally, it does change a lot,” says the 26-year old Medina. “First of all, I think my lifestyle is different. Everything changes for me. The priority is not myself; it’s another life and I think that I have a good companion also. My girlfriend [Natasha] is a really nice mom and we both do a good job. She helps me get ready and prepare for my fights and I don’t think I’ve had a hard time. At the beginning, it was a little tough because babies don’t sleep that much.”
Yeah, regarding that, when “Lil’ Jo’” makes a unscheduled wake-up call for the duo, who handles the situation? (Infants are funny like that. They don’t seem to understand that adults need eight hours of uninterrupted sleep on a regular basis.)
Medina says with a laugh, “Well, as I say, I have a good companion and she has to sacrifice right now. And I told her I would make it up to her after the fight. So I’ve been able to get my hours of sleep; also, I changed my running hours. I used to run early in the morning and for this fight, I’m running at like 12, one in the morning - kinda like [Floyd] Mayweather-style and I don’t feel any difference. I actually feel very strong. I think I’m ready for this fight.”
This bout versus Nelson is for the NABF 154-pound title. And Medina, whose losses have come to the likes of Vanes Martirosyan, John Duddy and Saul Roman, is facing a tall order - literally - since Nelson is a freakishly tall 6’3”. “He’s pretty tall; he has a reach advantage,” he concedes, “but you can be nine-foot tall and if you don’t use your reach, it doesn’t matter.”
Medina’s trainer, Eric Brown, says of the match-up, “Yeah, it’s going to be pretty awkward getting past that long reach and it’s going to be a bit of an obstacle. But you just gotta put pressure on this guy and make him do something that he’s uncomfortable doing.”
Which is?
“Making him back up a lot, make him try to fight backing up and then have Michael moving his head, getting under punches and countering him to the body and the head,” explained Brown.
Last December, going into his bout with veteran trialhorse Grady Brewer, Medina gave himself an ultimatum: win or join the military. He was either going to be a guy who could make a decent living in this sport as a real contender or get on with the next chapter of his life. But since that unanimous decision victory over Brewer, he had just one contest in 2012 (an eight-round unanimous decision over James Winchester in September on the Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard in Las Vegas).
“I would’ve loved to been fighting way, way more than I did. Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way but it gave me some time to think about my career, think about myself, think about my mistakes and I think it ended up working for the best because I had more time to work with Eric Brown and now, I’m feeling really strong. I’m feeling way better technically. It’s just like learning every day. At the end of the day, it was good,” said Medina, who has a career mark of 26-3-2, with 19 knockouts to his credit.
A victory over Nelson - a prizefighter who is both dangerous and vulnerable at the same time - would make up for lost time. It puts him on the brink of a title opportunity. Medina says, “This fight means the next step. I’ve been having trouble making that next step to the upper class and I think this is the epitome of that. I think this is gonna showcase if I’m able to jump and get those bigger fights on Showtime, HBO, which I’m looking forward to and it means feeding my family. Feeding my daughter, giving a good life for here, a good life for my family and I think that’s what it means. It entitles everything that I want and entitles everything that I need.”
Medina says there’s a certain “joy” in going to the gym because now, there’s more purpose. It’s something Brown agrees with. “Yeah, sure, it gives him something more to fight for and in Michael’s case, it’s a good thing because now, he knows he’s got something he’s gotta take care of. So he wants to do better and he wants to make something of himself so that he can provide for his daughter.” The trainer says he has a much more disciplined fighter nowadays. “Much more focused, even over his last fight,” states Brown.
There’s no doubt there’s much more on the line than there was a few years ago for Medina. The stakes are certainly much higher if not the purses. Fighting to pay next month’s rent is one thing; having to win to ensure someone else’s future is something entirely different. There’s not much that separates motivation and pressure if you think about it.
“Actually, it’s motivation,” says Medina, “I don’t see the pressure. I think that now - and this is a funny analogy - when I’m in the ring, even when I’m in sparring and I feel tired and when I just want to drop my hands, I just try to think that there’s my little baby looking at me or she’s going to look at the fight on TV when she grows up. So that pushes me. It’s just great motivation to know that there’s someone looking up to me and I want to be the best for her.”
On Thursday afternoon, the Nevada State Athletic Commission levied Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. a hefty $900,000 fine and suspended his boxing license nine months for his positive test for marijuana in the wake of his September loss to Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas.
To put this into perspective, back in 2002 when Fernando Vargas was popped for steroids after his loss to Oscar De la Hoya, he was fined $100,000. Something seems a bit out of line in this instance. Yeah, maybe there’s some inflation that has taken place over the past decade-plus but really, Chavez gets fined nine times the amount for smoking up as opposed to someone who is using a PED? Perhaps it’s because Chavez (who made a guaranteed $3 million for this fight) is a repeat offender in this jurisdiction but it seems a tad punitive.
“Well, it violates the constitution of Nevada and the United States. Section 6, Article 6 of the Nevada constitution prevents ‘excessive’ fines and Article 8 of the U.S. constitution prevents ‘excessive’ fines,” stated his promoter (and former attorney in a past life), Bob Arum. Who explained a case in Nevada where a driver was caught with marijuana and his car was confiscated, where the court ruled it was an ‘excessive fine.’”
(Don’t you just love it when Arum gets all constitutional?)
Chavez is eligible to fight in June and will do so, according to Arum, “obviously not in Nevada.”
HBO2 (with a broadcast crew of Tim Ryan and old on-air foils Larry Merchant and George Foreman) will be televising the April 6th show from Macau which will feature the pro debut of Chinese Olympian Zou Shiming and title bouts between Roman “Rocky” Martinez and Diego Magdaleno and Brian Viloria vs. Juan Estrada from the Venetian Macao...It’s officially official: Amir Khan will be facing Julio “No Longer the Kidd” Diaz on April 27th at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England...Antonio Orozco is no longer the opening act on the March 8th edition of “ShoBox.” He’s out with a bum elbow...I think there’s a very good chance Alfredo Angulo gets on the May 4th pay-per-view card in Las Vegas...Billy Dib defends his IBF featherweight title versus Evgeny Gradovich as the main event on tonight’s “Friday Night Fights” on ESPN2...Do I need to learn “The Harlem Shake” or am I still good with “The Running Man” and “The Cabbage Patch”?I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.

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