Interview and Photo by Sam Geraci
Sam: Congrats on your May 25th 9th round TKO victory over Joey Abell. How did you feel in that fight as compared to earlier in your career?
Fres Oquendo: Thanks. I’m healthier now than I was in my twenties for the simple fact that I’m doing everything right from the training and management to going all-natural with natural supplements from the earth and even alkaline water. I feel great. My body is healing itself.
Caption: Oquendo poses with two of his amateur fighters at Chicago Fight Club named Rico Gonzalez and Devin Wittenberg) May 29, 2012 at Chicago Fight Club Gym at 4835 N. Elston, Chicago, IL, 60630
Sam: In that fight I thought I saw a few wrinkles from B-Hop. In particular the straight right hand followed by the quick footwork after the right.
Fres Oquendo: We both did some work down at the 5th Street Boxing Gym and of course you pick up something from a fighter with footwork like Bernard. That was some veteran footwork moves I used on the 25th.
Sam: So, like Hopkins, you have been able to maintain a high level by living a clean life and staying in shape. Some fighters, however, like Berto and Peterson and even Toney and Mosley have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. What do you feel about that and what those fight cancelations have done for the sport lately?
Fres Oquendo: Unfortunately, these guys are being misguided and misled by whoever is advising them and they’re not good people and it’s real sad. It’s become a black eye for the sport and it’s gotta be stopped. Guys like myself are the poster-child for what’s right and if you work hard, take care of your body the right way, and supplement your body the right way you can have a great long career and life like me and Bernard Hopkins.
Sam: So you think the fighters were taken advantage of? What do you mean by that?
Fres Oquendo: Well, those guys like Berto are working with people like Conte who have been in trouble and to be working with someone like that it just shows how naive some of these guys are and it’s sad. They still need to be responsible for what they did.
Sam: What do you think about fighters who won’t take the drug tests?
Fres Oquendo: They got something to hide and they are guilty of not keeping the sport clean and they should be prosecuted for that.
Sam: So, as far as you regiment, how has it changed or how is it at 39?
Fres Oquendo: Oh, man, I’ve been on a strict diet. For the last five years I’ve been taking blood tests to see what works well with by body and what reacts right. Everything that you eat is not healthy. Something might be healthy for one person but not another. For me, dairy and some nuts don’t work good, so I have to take other things like Almond Milk or other natural supplements and I think they have helped sustain me to this point in my career.
Sam: Alright, let’s talk about the ring. Who are you working with now in the corner?
Fres Oquendo: Nate Jones, the 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist who is Floyd Mayweather’s assistant trainer, my old nemesis, my old foe from the amateur days. A great trainer and a great friend who is here training me.
Sam: How has that relationship been through the years?
Fres Oquendo: Aw, it’s been great. We have stayed close. He was a great amateur. Unfortunately, his career did not blossom in the pros. That just goes to show that some amateurs don’t get that opportunity to blossom in the pros. For me, I didn’t get that medal in the Olympics but I blossomed in the pros. It was tailor made for me, and I’ve been top ten for fifteen years.
Sam: Fifteen years is a long time to be in the top ten. A long time. One thing I gotta say about older fighters who make it though is that they are technically sound. Hopkins is technically sound. Tarver is technically sound, Toney and even Winky who we’ll see this weekend to see if there is anything left is technically sound. Other fighters like Roy Jones and Shane Mosley who relied on speed and reflexes have really declined once the raw speed and reflexes were gone.
Fres Oquendo: Yeah you’re right. Being technical will give you more time.
Sam: Here’s another question about aging fighters. Are you guys still able to compete because of being technically sound and what you guys are doing to stay healthy or is it more that this generation of young fighters just isn’t that good?
Fres Oquendo: No, this generation is good. I don’t want to say anything bad about this generation or take anything away from this generation. I think they are good. We have the experience of everything in and out of the ring and we now take care of our bodies, but there are some good young fighters. Victories like mine last week and Hopkins’s over Pascal show that if you say “no” to drugs and stay true to yourself anything is possible.
Sam: What about the other man in your corner all of these years? Your brother?
Fres Oquendo: My brother Henry. That’s my right hand man. My Shadow. My inspiration. We’ve been through all of our trials and tribulations and we’ve hung together since day one. He makes me proud. He’s getting his Master’s degree. I am very proud. When we get our stable of fighters at my gym, they are going to have me training and my brother and team helping them out so we can do it right for these kids. Do it honest.
Sam: How does your relationship with your whole team compare to your team when you were younger?
Fres Oquendo: We got great chemistry. Tom Tsatas is a strong core and Nate as a trainer and my brother Hector Morales with my legal team keep everything moving the right way and they keep me focused and away from all of the distractions.
Sam: Seeing that things are going well, how much longer do you plan to fight?
Fres Oquendo: Oh, not too long. I mean I love the sport and I feel great even better than when I was in my twenties but not too long. Maybe two to three fights but not more than two or three years. Only God knows. I want that elusive title then I’ll run off to the sunset.
Sam: Most of the public views you as a champ the day you dominated Byrd. How does that make you feel?
Fres Oquendo: It feels great knowing that everyone knows what happened but that needs to change in boxing. These judges and promoters are corrupt, and they’re giving a black eye to the sport. It’s about time that judges started getting suspended. In my fight with Mormeck everyone knows I won. Rafael called it a candidate for worst decision of the year and that guy got a huge payday to fight one of the Klitschkos while guys like me who are the poster-child for doing things the right way are getting left behind. That won’t happen to me again. I was pimped out there, and I won’t let that happen again.
Sam: I am with you 100%. One of the judges who was suspended was from the Williams-Lara fight. What do you think about what happened to Williams?
Fres Oquendo: It’s real sad. He was a good fighter, and it just goes to show how dangerous motorcycles can be. You can be doing everything right and someone texting while driving can ruin it all. I wish him a quick recovery.
Sam: What about the other sad news of ring legend Tapia?
Fres Oquendo: Oh, that’s real sad. He was a good Latin boxer and a nice guy. The autopsy will be out soon. He we went to the dark side from time to time so I hope he has finally found peace. My thoughts are with the family.
Sam: Well, let’s get to it. This is what the fans want to know about Oquendo: Who do you want next?
Fres Oquendo: Again, my big goal is the Klitschkos, but if that doesn’t materialize then a big money fight with one of the contenders like Arreola, Mitchel, Jennings, or Adamek. The question is whether their people would put them against me, so in the meantime I need to stay active. I’ll get a shot soon. They can’t avoid me forever.
Sam: I’d love to see you in a classic Mexican vs. Puerto Rican matchup especially in September, but I’d also like to see you in a mega Chicago showdown against Adamek that I think would sell well because of the large Puerto Rican and Polish populations in Chicago.
Fres Oquendo: Yeah, that’d be nice. I’d take either fight. My choice would be Arreola because of the Machismo vs. the Sweet Science and I know I’d take him because we sparred and I took him to school. But I am going to Poland soon for a promotion with Roy Jones and his Square Ring Promotions so maybe there will be a possibility with Adamek. Me and him are two fast and athletic heavyweights. That would be awesome in Chicago.
Sam: I think you and Adamek are both crazy enough to take that fight in order to prove your greatness.
Fres Oquendo: Of course, of course. We’re both fighters.
Sam: If the big fight doesn’t come, which I think it will by the end of the year, but if it doesn’t come and you hung up the gloves today, how would you feel about your career?
Fres Oquendo: I’d feel good. I’ve accomplished a lot and I am very proud of what I have done in the ring. To this day, everyone still calls me champ because they know I got robbed. I still have my health, which is not something every boxer has. I am also proud of what I have been able to do outside of the ring.
I fought my way out of the Chicago Housing Projects through boxing to avoid gangs and drugs. I have given back to Chicago and I am starting a not-for-profit in Chicago’s Humbodlt Park community called the Fres Oquendo Boxing Academy (FOBA) that will help kids of Chicago stay out of trouble and learn about the sweet science and how to take care of themselves the right way. Kids in Chicago, like I was, don’t have access to education about how to take care of themselves the right way and this academy will help them for free and teach them to build confidence and self-esteem through the sweet science. Please check it out at www.fobaintl.org.
I would be very happy with my career if it ended today. I have given back to the community, and I have a beautiful family and they are proud of me and what I have done for them. If I left tomorrow, I already have my transition plan with the not-for-profit FOBA. I am very blessed.
Sam: Before we go, I wanted to ask which fighters you like to watch?
Fres Oquendo: Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather…
Sam: Who wins that fight?
Fres Oquendo: They both got distinctive styles. It’s very interesting. Um, I’d give the edge to Floyd. You know, I’m a technical fighter myself and Floyd is a more technical fighter.
Sam: What about the heavyweights?
Fres Oquendo: Um, that’s tough. Not many are good to watch.
Sam: Thanks a lot for the time, Fres. So, one more time. Who would you want most out of Arreola, Adamek, and Mitchell.
Fres Oquendo: The Puerto Rican vs. Mexican matchup is what the fans want. Machismo vs the Sweet Science! Let’s do it for Mexican Independence Day on September 15th.