By John J. Raspanti
He’s an ironworker by day and by night, Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez is a fighter who believes his time to shine is now.
On June 23 at The Dome at the Ballpark in Rosemont, Illinois, 30-year-old Jimenez ranked 21st in the USA boxing rankings, will meet Aaron Pryor Jr. for the second time. The two battled to a majority draw last year.
Jimenez thought he deserved the nod. Pryor felt that Jimenez received an early birthday present.
The debate will be settled in the squared circle in a few weeks. Jimenez (20-1, 14 KOs) is very aware of the significance of his rematch with Pryor.
The winner will be the new WBC Continental super middleweight champion.
“This is the most important fight of my career,” Jimenez told this writer on the phone a few weeks ago. “Winning a title for me is huge. A win would open a lot of doors for me.”
Jimenez rebounded from the only loss of his career by flattening Francisco Ramon Benitiz in Australia two years ago. The victory was sweet and part of learning curve as a fighter.
In retrospect, it shouldn’t be that surprising that Jimenez bounced back so quickly.
He’s done it his entire life. Jimenez earns a living as an iron worker in downtown Chicago. He’s proud of the job he does. He acknowledges the difficulties of juggling two occupations 15 hours a day, but Jimenez would have it no other way.
“I started working as an ironworker and boxing at the same time,” said Jimenez. “I was around twenty. I think doing both benefits me. I’ve never done one or the other by itself. It seems that I’m always go, go, go. For me this routine is always about work."
Jimenez has scored 14 knockouts in his 20 victories. He was last seen in the ring stopping Miguel Cubos five months ago. Jimenez likes to entertain the fans, hence his nickname, “Hollywood.”
Six months ago, he traveled to Australia to help prepare former WBA light heavyweight champion Danny Green for his return go with Anthony Mundine.
The 44-year-old Green took Jimenez under his wing.
“I can’t say enough nice things about Danny Green,” Jimenez said. “He’s got’ta be, pound-for-pound, one of the coolest and nicest guys in boxing. He mentored me. He’s the ultimate professional. I like that. I pride myself in doing the same thing.
“All that stuff, training, sparring, and talking about it, all of that helps me prepare for this rematch with Pryor,” added Jimenez.
Jimenez feels that mentally he’s in a much better place than when he faced Pryor last year. Fighting the towering Pryor, who will enter the ring with a reach advantage of almost 10 inches, is challenging.
“People don’t realize how tall he is, “Jimenez said. “I’m six-one and he makes me feel short. He’s like six-five. I was a little shocked when I saw him at the weigh-in. I’ve been working on preparing myself better this time.”
Jimenez believes that his time is now.
"I’ve paid my dues,” said Jimenez. “I’ve done all the right things. All the work. It’s all going to payoff. A win over Pryor will put me up there with the big dogs.”
Tickets are on sale now at www.hitzboxing.com for the Jimenez vs. Pryor Jr. rematch, which also features undefeated Chicago light heavyweight Mike Lee, and the return of Don “The Bomb” George. Tickets are priced at $200, $150, $100 and $40.
Doors to The Dome at the Ballpark open at 6:00 p.m. First bell is at 7:00 p.m. The CBS Sports broadcast begins at 8:00 p.m. local time/9:00 p.m. EST.