Straight from the Heart: Miguel Hernandez on His Fight This Friday vs. Luciano Perez!

boxing (left to right: 'Macho' Miguel Hernandez, Angel 'Torrito' Hernandez, and Miguel's son, Joshuah Hernandez at ringside)

26.03.09 - CHICAGO Ė By Juan C. Ayllon: Like many, Miguel Hernandez is a family man, working two jobs trying to make ends meet and, in this recession, itís not been easy.

Hernandez works full-time as a car inspector/ car man-mechanic eight hours a day at Beltway Railway come rain or shine. He inspects the trains and tags the cars if anythingís wrong with them. This involves working outside three days a week and two or three days fixing the problems in the garage or outdoors. His works his second job as an auxiliary policeman two nights a week, usually Fridays and Saturdays.

Until recently, that is..

Recently, Beltway has had some layoffs. Hernandez has survived the cuts, but has new problems: Theyíve altered his schedule, alternating one week working the graveyard, the next the swing shift, and so forth. ďThatís going to make it hard for me to do my job as an auxiliary policeman,Ē he says.

And if thatís not enough, he also boxes professionally, having amassed a record of 20-8 with 10 knockouts in a career that has spanned just shy of six years.

ďI just have to work around my schedule and get some rest because itís hard when you get older,Ē Hernandez, 34, says. ďI get out of work, I come home, I rest a little bit, you know, I change, and then I go straight to the gym.Ē

When he drops by Chicago Boxing Club after work, he works with Rick Ramos, who is partners in the gym with acclaimed Chicago boxing trainer, Sam Colonna. A commodities index broker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange by day, Ramos is a passionate former amateur boxer who takes boxing very seriously and, as Hernandez found out, heís not fooling around.

Spotting Hernandez and Angel ďTorritoĒ Hernandez laughing one night while sparring at half speed, Ramos he ordered them out of the boxing ring and gave them an earful. ďI told them do you know how many kids here look up to you?Ē He suggested if they werenít serious, they should train somewhere else.

Another time, Ramos pushed him extra-hard, driving him to do ten rounds hitting the focus mitts. Drenched in sweat, Hernandez wasnít happy.

ďI thought Miguel was going to kill me,Ē said Ramos. ďI told him I think I want it more than he does.Ē

ďMan, Rick is crazy,Ē Miguel said, laughing.

And with good reason: Facing him this Friday is Luciano Perez, a heavy-handed puncher with a record of 16-9 and 14 knockouts. Never the subtle boxer, heís often wide-open. He doesnít throw punches Ė he slings them instead like unwieldy clubs, battering away with impunity. In November 2007, he nearly beat former World Boxing Council Welterweight champ Carlos Baldomir little over a year after Baldomir upended Arturo Gatti in nine rounds while defending his title.

Sure, Perez has campaigned at welterweight most of his career, and in his recent foray into the middleweight division this last year, heís had mixed results; he stopped Devin Lopez in two rounds in September, and wobbled undefeated prospect Mike Jones (15-0 with 14 knockouts at the time) before getting stopped in the third round. Afterwards, it was said that Jones told him that heíd never been hit so hard in his career.

A popular middleweight boxer in the Windy City, ďMachoĒ Miguel Hernandez started his career late at age 28 after a handful of amateur bouts in the Chicago Golden Gloves. He won the Illinois State Middleweight Title in April 2005 and the WBC United States Middleweight Title in February 2006. He showed guts, but came up short in two step-up bouts with former junior middleweight champions Raul Marquez (L by TKO 9) and Yory Boy Campas (Retired in 5) later that year. In 2007, he participated in the boxing reality show ďThe ContenderĒ in 2007 at a bodyweight of 165 Ė a weight where at 5í 7Ē, the consensus was he looked fat fighting against taller and lither opponents.

The weight didnít come off any easier for his last bout against Derrick ďSupermanĒ Findley (13-2, 8 KOís). By his own admission, he didnít train right. As a result, he came in weight drained, got battered and bloodied. Stubborn, if nothing else, Hernandez refused to fold and lost an eight round decision in which he appeared a shell of his former self.

Nonplussed, Hernandez insists heís got more left in the tank and says heís in much better shape for Luciano. He better be.

Their showdown will be held this Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.

Speaking by cell phone, Hernandez spoke from his heart.

JUAN AYLLON: How are you doing?

MIGUEL HERNANDEZ: Iím good, just tired.

JA: Thatís not surprising between working full-time with the railroad, working out and your part-time job as a cop, and family commitments.

MH: Yeah. Itís hard, but I mean I love doing it, I needed something to motivate me, and this fight, itís something thatís going to motivate me. I believe the winner should continue and the loser should retire, you know?

For me, thatís whatís going to happen. I want to win this fight, and I know he does, too, and this is a fight that theyíve been wanting in Chicago for a long time.

JA: Youíve been training with Dr. Stoxen at Team Doctors for this fight now, right?

MH: Yeah, Iíve been going there. I go there two days a week, doing my ab workout and a couple other exercises. I want to thank Dr. Stoxen for his all his help. I feel strong!

Actually, I feel in way better shape than when I was going to fight ďSupermanĒ [Derrick Findley]. I mean, you know I feel good about it and Iíve just got to keep working out hard. It was hard Ė itís hard now. Iím not getting any younger. Also, every workout, it takes a toll on you.

But, itís now or never. Iím looking forward for this fight and, like I said, I know he is, too, and weíve got to see what happens.

JA: You mentioned about a year or two ago that youíd sparred and that went pretty well for you. I recall that you said that you hurt him in sparring. Can you tell us more about that?

MH: Nah, I donít want to get into that. You know what? He hits hard. I mean, itís going to be a chess match. The guy has power. Itís nothing Iíve [not seen before]; Iíve fought a lot of fighters. Iíve fought ex-world champs Ė Campas, Marquez Ė itís going to be a good fight! You know, he hits hard, so do I, and we both come forward, so, weíre not going to be hard to find!

JA: How would you compare his power to that of Yory Boy Campas?

MH: Thatís different. Thereís difference in power. Campas is Ė heís got sneaky power. This guy hits you with a short punch [and] itís the same thing as a big bomb! Lucianoís got decent power. I mean, anyone hits hard Ė anyone has the potential of knocking somebody else out.

Itís going to be a treat for the fans, not for us! (He laughs). Weíve got to work the next day or the day after because we do it for the love of the sport, not for the money.

JA: So, any predictions for this fight?

MH: To me, itís going to be an exciting fight. I donít recommend anyone get up and leave their seats because anything can happen. That goes for both of us. I mean, the fight could end early or it could be a war. It could last ten rounds. [The fans] are going to get their moneyís worth.

To be honest, I just want to thank [promoter] Dominic [Pesoli] for putting this together. Weíre going to be at a great venue, the UIC Pavilion. I know weíre going to have a nice turnout there. And Iím just grateful for this opportunity.

I also want to thank Rick Ramos Ė heís going to be in my corner.

You know, Iím back with [boxing trainer] Sam Colonna. Our schedules donít work together real good Ė me and Sam Ė heís at the gym in the morning [and] Iím at work. And then when I get out, Iím at the gym. When I get to the gym, Rick Ramos is there, he gives me his pad work and he watches me when I spar. I mean, Iím grateful. Heís a great guy. He loves the sport. He wants to be involved in it in every way. Heís got a lot of kids from De La Salle [High School] that go to the gym and train and I get to spar with them and work with them. Theyíre a bunch of good kids and they train hard! Theyíre hungry. Theyíre good students plus theyíre good athletes Ė females and males!

Itís a packed house, but everyone gets along and everyone tries to help each other. And itís a good thing for Chicago. I mean, if you live on the north side, you have JABBs Gym. Itís a good gym, itís big, itís clean, and you get a great workout there. If youíre on the south side of Chicago, youíve got Chicago Boxing and itís good for everyone. We get fighters from every place coming to spar.

Iím grateful for having him there and, of course, NBC (another pal from the gym) will be in my corner. I just want to thank him.

I just want all the people in Chicago to know that this is a treat for them from the both of us, me and Luciano. Luciano and me are good friends; itís nothing personal. Heís Mexican and Iím Puerto Rican, but we have the same friends. Itís going to be interesting when [former contender] Rocky [Martinez] walks out with me and Rockyís brother will be in [Lucianoís] corner. Rockyís brother is Lucianoís manager.

But, itís nothing personal. Itís going to be a clean fight. Itís going to be a war and, after the fight, weíre going to continue to be friends. And whoever keeps going Ė if itís me, I know heíll cheer me on, and if itís him, Iíll cheer him on.

JA: Howís the struggle with the weight coming? I ask that because I had heard you were coming in a little bit heavy.

MH: I mean, back then, like I said, when I fought Derrick Findley, I called Dominic for a fight and he offered me that fight, and I took it. This is without being in the gym or nothing. [Now], Iíve been in the gym because I was looking for a fight.

Itís always a struggle. When you get older, itís harder on the body. But, Iíve got to be disciplined and itís going to be good. Iím going to come in at my weight and Iím positive that heís going to come in at weight and thereís going to be a fight. Itís going to be good.

There is a lot at stake here. From the beginning of my career, Iíve always said I want to win three titles Ė [one for] each of my boys. And Iíve got two and this is my third shot. Like I said, Iím not getting any younger and all my dreams have come true for me, so this is one more that I could add on. Itís not going to be easy Ė by all means, itís not going to be easy Ė but you know what? Hard work pays off! So, weíll see what we can do.

JA: Tell us more about your boys.

MH: Joshuah (13) is my oldest, Jeovani (inaudible) and Jeff is seven. Theyíre all doing good in school. Joshuahís in the seventh grade, every Tuesday, he goes to UIC for advanced algebra, and, look at: Iím fighting at the UIC Pavilion. So, heís excited about that. When he graduates, heíll have a credit in high school. He wants to go to Walter Payton High School or Whitney Young [Magnet High School]. And my two little ones are following his footsteps! Theyíre A and B students, and Iím just blessed.

And Josh was looking good in the ring, too! If he continues to do what heís doing, heíll be something else, man. Heís growing into his body. [As an amateur boxer], heís like nine and four. I give them exercises Ė even the little ones. When they get up, they do their pushups; when they go to bed, they do their pushups and sit-ups. Itís part of life. I take my hat off to them. I just tell them what to do and they do it.

JA: And I heard that youíre getting back with your longtime girlfriend. Can you comment on that?

MH: I donít want to touch that because I might ruin things (laughs). No man, so far everythingís good.

Iím grateful for everyone Ė [ex-middleweight boxer and current trainer] Freddy Cuevas, too. I want to thank him because he worked my corner two fights. Heís a good guy and I learned a lot from him and hopefully heíll be cheering me on, but you know what? Heís a hell of a fighter and he still can throw!

I just want to thank him and [junior middleweight boxer] ďEl TorritoĒ Angel Hernandez, too, and [rising middleweight contender] Michael Walker.

JA: Tell us about these guys who serve as your sparring partners.

MH: I always want to say [thank you to] Michael Walker because heís a good friend of mine. And Angel ďTorritoĒ Ė weíve always been good friends. Weíve been through a lot together and we know what the pros are in the sport, so we continue to do it. Itís not that weíre making millions off these fights.

You know, like once again, Iíve got two jobs and Iím a father to my kids, so I mean, itís hard. But like I said, Iím blessed because in Chicago I worked out at JABBs (JABB Boxing Gym), and now Iím at Chicago Boxing [Club] with Rick Ramos and Sam Colonna, so I mean, I was blessed.

Rick Ramos was a good guy and, like I said, heís there for the fighters. Iím telling you, I needed something to spark me and he gave that spark back. He would push me when Iíd get to the gym. When Iím tired, heíd say, ďCome on, you can do it. Throw more punches, throw more punches.Ē

And once again, Dominic gave me this opportunity to fight in my hometown. You know, I mean, thatís a blessing.

And my grandma Ė this is my first fight that my grandma will go to. So, yeah, Iím looking forward to it!

JA: Any last thoughts?

MH: If this is my last fight, I want to go out like I started, [with] Sam Colonna, [who] is not only a good trainer, but heís a good friend. Iíve got no regrets. Everyone says they want to fight for a million dollars. I mean, donít get me wrong: I would love to have fought for a million dollars. But, I got to do something that Iíve always wanted to do and even though I started as late as I did, Iíve accomplished a lot in such a short time.

And, Juan, thank you for everything. Youíve been there for me my whole career, youíve done some great interviews, andÖyou try to give the Chicago fighters some media [exposure], and we donít get that here.

Oh, and Rita Figueroa is fighting on the same card, too, so Iím excited. Sheís a good friend of mine and Iím hoping we can steal the show, man! Weíve just got to go in there and get the victory, and at the end of the night, I want my hand raised, and I can hand over my belt to my youngest boy!

Article posted on 26.03.2009

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