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Nothing Easy for “El Loco”

Jose Hernandez

Jose Hernandez

By Steve Kim


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.
 
Jose Hernandez
Jose Hernandez
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 careers.”
 
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.”
 
BRADLEY
 
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).
 
TNR
 
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
AUGUST FLURRIES
 
 
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?...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, 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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