Determined Mike "Hollywood" Jimenez faces undefeated Charles Foster in Boston March 16
By John J. Raspanti
Ask anyone about Mike Jimenez and they’ll tell what a nice guy he is. He’s honest, blunt and, like the city he lives in and represents, Chicago, ILL., to the point. When he says he needs to “kick ass” you know he means it.
Next month, Jimenez will travel to Boston and fight Charles Foster for the NABA light-heavyweight title. Normally a super-middleweight, Jimenez will be moving up a division to light heavy (175 pounds) for his bout with Foster.
Fighting Foster for the NABA belt was something Jimenez couldn’t pass up.
“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Jimenez me told on the phone a few weeks ago. “I’m going into like there’s no pressure. I won’t have all friends, fans and family there. Just me and him.”
Jimenez (22-1-2, 14 KOs) has spent the last 11 years dividing his time between working as an ironworker in Chicago, and boxing. It’s been tough, but you won’t catch Jimenez complaining.
“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."
His work ethic earned him a fight with world title challenger Jesse Hart on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas four years ago.
Jimenez suffered the first loss of his career, but was back in the ring a month later, starching Francisco Ramon Benitiz in Australia. That fight was followed by knockout victories over Dezi Ford, and Miguel Cubus, and a draw with Aaron Pryor in their first go around. Jimenez faced Pryor in a rematch a year later. After being floored in the early going, he rallied to win a hard-found majority decision.
The victory was very rewarding for Jimenez.
“Winning the WBCCA super middleweight title is one of the happiest moments of my life,” Jimenez said. “It truly was thrilling, amazing, and a heartfelt for my fans and me. I was happy to give it back to them.”
A world title shot seemed possible.
“I had a fight opportunity but passed on it because of some family matters I had to tend to,” said Jimenez. “I had to put everything aside to be with my family for a while.”
Jimenez returned to the ring wars a year later-meeting tough Brandon Maddox from Detroit, MI. The fight was looked at as a tune-up, but things quickly went sour in the opening round.
“He (Maddox) caught me behind my elbow in the first 15 seconds of the fight,” said Jimenez. “I just had to gruel it out and I didn’t want to show him any kind of indication that I was injured. I told my corner, ‘don’t ice it, don’t touch it, don’t even look at it, this guy will know we’re toast.’ I told them just talk me through this and I got it”
The pain was unbearable, but Jimenez focused on what he had to do.
“I tried to not think on it and I went to what was working and I stuck to it,” Jimenez said. “I’m just happy I didn’t get a loss (the fight was ruled a draw) that night.”
Jimenez went to the hospital immediately after the bout was over. He was informed that he had fractured a rib and broken some cartilage.
The pain was intense.
“It was so bad,” said Jimenez. “The next three months everything hurt. Sleeping, coughing, burping, laughing, everything. Just brutal.”
Jimenez healed and returned to the squared circle five months laser, winning a unanimous decision over Emmanuel Sanchez.
A sports star in high school, Jimenez has always been athletically inclined. Boxing though, hooked him from the beginning.
“There’s something about the competitive nature,” Jimenez said. “Being in there and being focused-it’s just you. I can get in there and get in a zone. In training your jumping rope, shadow boxing, hitting the bag, working with your team. It just helps me keep my mind at ease”
Jimenez, 31, is well aware of the importance of his fight with the undefeated Foster on March 16.
“I believe this is the biggest fight of my career,” said Jimenez. “Everytime I step up it’s the biggest. When I fought Jesse Hart, that was the biggest fight of my career. I fought Aaron Pryor twice, both of those were huge—because of the belt and what was to come. Now I’m fighting a boxer ranked number ten in the world-for his belt and his ranking. It’s an opportunity right there in my grasp.”
Jimenez is confident he’ll be returning to Chicago with another belt around his waist. He knows what he needs to do.
“It’s cliché,” Jiménez said. “I have more experience, been on a bigger stage, been in tougher fights. I’ve fought some mean big bad tough dudes in the past. What I got to do is go in there and kick this guy’s ass."
Spoken like a true Chicagoan.