Boxing Insider Notebook: Cotto, Hernandez, De La Hoya, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 14th to November 21st; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Photo Credit: Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Miguel Cotto and Undercard Fighters Workout Quotes
Four-division world champion Miguel Cotto (41-5, 33 KOs) hosted a media workout today at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles ahead of the final fight of the future Hall of Famer’s career, which will be against Sadam “World Kid” Ali (25-1, 14 KOs) for Cotto’s WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship. The action will take place at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden, and will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.
Also participating in the workout was NABF Bantamweight Champion Oscar “El Jaguar” Negrete (17-0, 7 KOs), who will challenge Rey Vargas (30-0, 22 KOs) for the WBC World Super Bantamweight belt in the HBO-televised co-main event, along with Ronny Rios (28-2, 13 KOs) and Aaron “Silencer” McKenna who will also be on the card in separate bouts that will be streamed on RingTV.com.
Here is what today’s participants had to say at the workout:
MIGUEL COTTO, Four Division World Champion:
“Though it has been my last training camp, everything has gone well and been the same. The fact that it is my last fight has not changed anything. I have always dedicated myself fully and have worked hard, and that’s why I’m here now, finishing my career on my terms. I haven’t really felt nostalgia yet during the final days of my camp. I’m just grateful for what boxing has given me and for the life it has allowed me to give to my children.”
OSCAR “EL JAGUAR” NEGRETE, Current NABF Bantamweight Champion:
“I’m so excited for this opportunity. This is everything that I have worked for so far in my career. Being undefeated doesn’t make him [Rey Vargas] invincible. I’m a forced to be reckoned with. People may underestimate me, but I know what I’ve done to make sure I walk away with the victory.”
RONNY RIOS, Featherweight Contender:
“I learned a lot from my last fight. I feel like that’s prepared me a lot for this next one. From my last fight I learned that I need to throw more punches and be more aggressive. If I would have just thrown 20 more punches in every round, things would have looked a lot different. I’m prepared for [Deivis] Julio, and I’m ready for fight night. As soon as I got the call, I was ready. I always stay ready in between fights.”
AARON “SILENCER” MCKENNA, Welterweight Prospect:
“Today’s workout and meeting the LA press was fantastic! I had a tremendous training camp and have had some really strong sparring at Maywood Gym. Ever since I put on my first pair of gloves at the age of 6, all the hard training, tournaments, amateur fights have led to me fighting at Madison Square Garden Dec. 2. I’m a delighted to be making my pro-debut and look forward to putting on a great show for the fans!”
Cotto vs. Ali, a 12-round fight for the Cotto’s WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship, is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Miguel Cotto Promotions.
Nico Hernandez Set to Face Jozsef Ajtai
Hernandez vs, Ajtai is the eight-round main event for the vacant International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas flyweight title fight, Saturday night, December 2, on the “KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” card, at Hartman Arena in Park City, Kansas.
“KO Night Boxing: Gold & Glory” is a presentation of KO Night Boxing LLC., in association with Hartman Arena, and sponsored in part by Twister City Harley-Davidson Metro PCS, Mort’s Cigar Bar and Jimmy’s Egg.
The action will be taped live for future airing on CBS Sports Network.
The 21-year-old Hernandez (3-0, 2 KOs), fighting out of Wichita, was a decorated amateur boxer who compiled a sterling 123-12 record, highlighted by his bronze-medal winning performance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. Hernandez made his pro debut last March. All his fights have been at home, each has been in the main event, and on national television. His fight against Ajtai, however, will be his first title fight, coming in only his fourth pro bout.
Ajtai, who is one year and six days younger than Hernandez, made his professional debut 2 ½ years ago, and he’s already fought in five title fights.
Hernandez’ amateur pedigree versus Ajtai’s pro experience?
“I feel like I’m already at the level of a lot of top pro fighters,” Hernandez said. The only advantage he has is he’s used to fighting more rounds than I (this is Nico’s first scheduled 8-rounder), but I don’t plan on letting it go the distance anyways.
“I feel blessed to have this IBA title fight opportunity so early in my pro career. It honestly couldn’t come any faster. I do believe it will be special and open a tot of opportunities to fight bigger names once I win this fight. A win should open-up additional title fight opportunities, both overseas and, hopefully, back here at home to help us continue building Wichita into a fight town.”
Ajtai (19-9, 12 KOs) has already had 28 pro fights, including a full 10-round distance loss by decision last year at Madison Square Garden in New York City to two-time Olympic gold medalist Shiming Zou, the former World Boxing Organization (WBO) flyweight world champion. The Hungarian has fought at home in Hungary, as well as on the road in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Ukraine and Slovakia. A trip to America’s heartland doesn’t faze him in the least.
“He will be at home, where everybody wants to fight, but this isn’t a problem for me,” Ajtai explained. “I know he is a good boxer, but I will try to be a bit better December 2nd. When my condition is good, as it is for this fight, nobody likes to fight me.
“This is a big opportunity for me. It’s always difficult to beat a good fighter but doing so is real success. Fighting Shiming Zou in only my fourth fight was very nice for me. I want that feeling again in this fight against Nico.”
Hernandez realizes that this fight could be his last at home for a while, due to the lack of quality American flyweights, and that most world-class fighters in his weight class are from Central America, Thailand and Japan.
“I don’t think I’ll have many more fights at home,” Hernandez admits. “I don’t think that will matter too much because I feel more pressure fighting at home than elsewhere. I will miss everyone cheering my name like they do at home. I think I’ll be traveling more to fight bigger names to work my way up the ladder until I’m at the top.
“I think the early rounds in this fight (vs. Ajtai) will be a chess match because, from what I’ve seen, he runs a lot. I feel that once I start landing my body shots, he’ll slowdown in the latter rounds. and, like I’ve said, I don’t plan on this fight going the distance.”
Ajtai, of course, isn’t traveling all the way to Kansas to visit Dorothy or the Wizard of Oz, he’s coming to win!
“Nico will not know where I will be in the ring,” Ajtai predicted. “When he looks to the left for me, I will go to the right; when he tries to find me on the right, I will be on the left. When he wants to rest, I will come forward punching; when he wants to punch, he won’t find me.
“I have a plan for this fight and I’m sure he does as well. But, in the ring, only one fighter’s plan can succeed. It’s going to be a good fight, but I can’t promise the public that Nico will be the winner.”
The full “Gold & Glory” card will be announced later this week. All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Diego De La Hoya to Face Jose Salgado on Golden Boy on ESPN
After giving a career-defining performance as the HBO Pay-Per-View televised opening bout on the Canelo vs. Golovkin undercard in September against former world champion Randy “El Matador” Caballero, recently crowned NABF and NABO Super Bantamweight Champion Diego De La Hoya (20-0, 9 KOs) will return to the ring on Dec. 14 as the main event for Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. De La Hoya will face battle-tested Jose “Sugar” Salgado (35-4-2, 28 KOs) of Quintana Roo, Mex. in a scheduled 10-round super bantamweight bout that is sure to be action-packed as both give their final fight performances of the year. Doors to the Special Events Center open at 4:30 p.m. PT, and the first non-televised bout starts at 4:45 p.m. PT. ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will transmit the fights beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT, and the ESPN3 transmission will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.
“I’d like to thank Golden Boy Promotions and my manager once again for keeping me busy with this final fight of 2017,” said Diego De La Hoya. “It’ll be my fifth fight this year and my team and I feel confident in my progression. I’m looking forward to closing the year off at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino and on ESPN. I anticipate 2018 to be even greater!”
“Since my last fight, I have been hoping for an opportunity like this one,” said Jose Salgado. “This fight motivates me. De La Hoya is a great challenge and I hope he is prepared to take me on. On December 14, I am going to give it my all to come out victorious for my fans and family.”
“Diego showed us with every fight this year that he continues to hone his craft and get better with every opponent,” said Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. “This will be a fun fight for the fans and a great way to close out what has been a phenomenal year for Diego.”
Leading the co-main event on Dec. 14, LA’s Carlos “The Solution” Morales (16-2-3, 6 KOs) will face Kosovo’s Dardan Zenunaj (14-3, 11 KOs) for a scheduled 10 rounds of action for the vacant NABA Super Featherweight title. Morales will have the opportunity to get back the belt he originally lost to Alberto “Explosivo” Machado in a tough unanimous decision this past August in Puerto Rico.
Hoping to make TV time as part of the ESPN coverage, Ferdinand Kerobyan (6-0, 3 KOs) will face a soon to be announced opponent in a four-round welterweight bout. Kerobyan is coming off a hot first-round knockout victory over Uriel Gonzalez in October.
Rounding out the stacked undercard, Southern California favorite Joet Gonzalez (17-0, 9 KOs) will take on the resilient Juan “Buffy” Montes (25-6-2, 15 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight bout.
Gonzalez is coming off a blazing fifth round knockout win over Deivi Bassa on the undercard of Cotto vs. Kamegai this past August.
San Antonio’s Joshua “El Profesor” Franco (12-0, 6 KOs) will participate in a scheduled eight-rounds of super flyweight fury, and East LA’s Jonathan “Thunder” Navarro (11-0, 6 KOs) will engage in eight rounds of super lightweight action. Opponents for these respective fights will be announced shortly. Opening up the action at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Mexican Olympian Raul “El Cugar” Curiel (1-0) will take on Mexico City’s rugged Israel Villela (6-7, 2 KOs) in a welterweight bout scheduled for six-rounds.
Tickets for the event start at $25 and are now on sale at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino box office, by calling 1-800-827-2946, or by purchasing online at www.fantasyspringsresort.com.
Danny Gonzalez to Fight Danny O’Connor at Mohegan Sun
Star Boxing has added a second WBC Championship bout to its already stacked “Slugfest at the Sun” on November 25th at Mohegan Sun. Undefeated DANNY “EL GALLO” GONZALEZ (Woodhaven NY, 14-0 5KOs) will put his perfect record on the line against highly regarded DANNY “DANNY O” O’CONNOR (Framingham MA, 28-3 10KOs) in a 10-round bout for the vacant WBC International Silver Super Lightweight Title.
This interesting co-feature has been added to an expected ‘action-packed’ main event title bout between current WBC International and Continental Americas Cruiserweight champion CONSTANTIN BEJENARU (12-0 3KOs) vs #1 mandatory challenger, from South Africa, THABISO “THE ROCK” MCHUNU (18-3 11KOs).
Danny Gonzalez has been attracting the attention of fans in and out of the ring. Maintaining a very busy 2017, Gonzalez will look to cap off his year with a WBC title around his waist. In front of him stands no easy task.
O’Connor, an Irish-American amateur star, has enjoyed success in the pros as well, beating the likes of former WBC Continental Americas Champion Michael Clark and former WBC World title challenger Vivian Harris. He comes into Mohegan Sun boasting an impressive 28-3 pro record. O’Connor is coming off a two fight winning streak including a win over another previously undefeated prospect.
Gonzalez will look to muster the strength of his native Puerto Rico, utilizing his accurate punching, and quick combinations, to keep O’Connor guessing. In his last bout at Mohegan Sun, Gonzalez took down Samuel Amoako (then 21-14 17KOs) in decisive fashion, showing both power and speed, and hopes to continue his success and maintain is undefeated record.
When asked about fight, Danny Gonzalez stated: “I want to thank my promoter Joe DeGuardia, the WBC, and my management and team for this great opportunity. When you work as hard as I do victory is the only result. 90% grind 10% rest, I will not be denied. It’s Rooster time”.
Danny O’Connor said: “I am grateful to be back in the position to make a name for myself in boxing. That all starts by winning the WBC Silver belt November 25th against Danny Gonzalez. Under the guidance of my coach, Adam Quitt, I am fully prepared. I’m thankful for all the support from Ken Casey and Murphy’s Boxing. We are excited about our new relationship with Star Boxing and Joe DeGuardia and believe together we will accomplish big things in the sport of boxing to come.
Star Boxing CEO JOE DEGUARDIA had this to say about the co-feature title fight, “I am pleased and proud to add this exciting and meaningful fight to our show at Mohegan Sun on November 25. It says a lot for both fighters that they are willing to put so much on the line for the opportunity to capture the title and advance their careers. This fight will bring everything a boxing fan could want, action, skill, speed and significance. Be sure to get your tickets and come to Mohegan, this will be a great night of boxing.”