Still-miffed Hernandez heads back to New Mexico
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Or the Spanish version -- "Huracan" -- for that matter.
If Puerto Rican-born Bronx resident Melissa Hernandez wanted a nickname to truly represent her fighting mindset, it'd be more along the lines of "Road Warrior."
"I love traveling," she said. "That's part of the perks of being a professional fighter. I've gotten to see places I would have never seen, and I love it.
"I think it's to my advantage to fight on the road and go into other people's backyards and learn to succeed. To me, the ones who are strictly home-based are cheating themselves."
Now 30 years old and a pro since 2005, the certainly-not-shy Hernandez adds an 11th state to her "I've fought there" travelogue on Saturday night when she meets capable female gatekeeper Victoria Cisneros at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, New Mexico.
Also included are pages on Canada and Panama, where she fought in 2006 and 2009.
"I'm never afraid to go somewhere and put on a good show," she said. "People know that when they get me, they're getting the female version of Hector Camacho."
The scheduled 10-rounder is an interim lightweight title fight in the eyes of the Women's International Boxing Association, and a win over Cisneros would add a fourth belt to the collection Hernandez started with the WIBA super bantamweight championship in 2006, the Global Boxing Union lightweight title in 2007 and the WIBA super featherweight title in 2008.
In 16 fights overall, she's won 12, lost two and wound up even twice -- most recently in an IFBA lightweight championship showdown with Chevelle Hallback, who herself lost a 10-round verdict to consensus women's pound-for-pound champion Holly Holm last March.
But more so than the chance at another crown, the very idea Hernandez is even fighting in New Mexico is something of an upset.
To those unaware, she had a bout scheduled for the state -- and its favorite in-ring female, Holm -- last December at the Isleta Resort & Casino in Albuquerque. Holm is an Albuquerque native and has had 25 of her 32 fights there.
The two engaged in significant trash talk, complete with Hernandez presenting her foe a bundle of carrots the pre-fight weigh-in and labeling her "The Rabbit" -- a less-than-flattering reference to Holm's strategic emphasis on movement in the ring.
What actually happened on fight night, though, is a matter of she said/she said.
According to New Mexico television station KRQE, Hernandez left the venue shortly before the scheduled opening bell -- leaving a suddenly opponent-less Holm to pluck Cisneros out of the crowd with little lead-in time before winning a unanimous 10-round decision.
Holm contends Hernandez departed after simply choosing not to fight, while Hernandez counters that she exited only after members of her team were denied the opportunity to stand-by in the locker room as Holm donned her hand wraps and gloves.
The Association of Boxing Commissions briefly came down on the New Yorker -- initially issuing a suspension for failing to honor a contract before reversing its decision over concerns with the way the entire card was administered, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Eight months later, both women would just as soon forget it... or not.
Hernandez has fought twice since -- winning a six-round decision over 2008 victim Ela Nunez in February and dropping an eight-rounder to Lindsay Garbatt in June. Holm beat Cisneros that night and went on to topple Hallback in March and Jaime Clampitt last weekend.
"I have nothing personal against Holly and I would love to give the fans what they want, but at the end of the day she never wanted the fight and that's why things went down the way they did," Hernandez said, replying to comments from Holm before the Clampitt fight.
"I would love to go down and do it at the Hard Rock or something, but no way it's happening back in the same place where the [expletive deleted] went down. I'm Holly Holm's Freddy Krueger and I hope someday I'll be able to get the rabbit in the ring with the hurricane.
"Then we'll see things the way they should have been all along."
In Cisneros, she sees a chance to prove precisely that point.
The then 13-fight veteran was able to go the distance with Holm on less than a day's notice, a fact not lost on Hernandez at the tail end of a four-week training camp.
"I think she's the perfect opponent for me," Hernandez said. "She's a solid B- level fighter and I know she's only been stopped once, so it's important to me to go and get a knockout.
"That'd be my way of throwing a big middle finger up at Holly Holm. She went 10 rounds with Holly after 45 minutes and got a bloody nose, we'll see what happens with me after four weeks."
This week's title-fight schedule:
Vacant IBF lightweight title -- Laredo, TX
Ji Hoon Kim (No. 1 contender) vs. Miguel Vazquez (No. 3 contender)
Kim (21-5, 18 KO): Former IBO 130-pound champion; Unbeaten since 2006 (13-0, 12 KO)
Vazquez (25-3, 12 KO): First title fight; Unbeaten since 2008 (4-0, 2 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Vazquez is just 23, but he's fought a higher grade of bigger foes." Vazquez by decision
IBO/WBC light heavyweight title -- Montreal, QC
Chad Dawson (IBO champion) vs. Jean Pascal (WBC champion)
Dawson (29-0, 17 KO): Eighth title fight (7-0, 2 KO); Held WBC title in 2007-08
Pascal (25-1, 16 KO): Third title defense; Unbeaten above 168 pounds (11-0, 8 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Dawson's first chance to fight a young, prime 175-pounder." Dawson by decision
WBA bantamweight title -- Panama City, Panama
Anselmo Moreno (champion) vs. Nehomar Cermeno (No. 1 contender)
Moreno (29-1-1, 10 KO): Seventh title defense; Defeated Cermeno by split decision in March
Cermeno (19-1, 11 KO): Second title fight; Eleventh fight in Panama (10-0, 8 KO)
Fitzbitz says: "Change of scenery shouldn't change a close result." Moreno by decision
WBO mini-flyweight title -- Guasave, Mexico
Donnie Nietes (champion) vs. Mario Rodriguez (No. 10 contender)
Nietes (26-1-3, 15 KO): Fourth title defense; Unbeaten since 2004 (15-0-2, 7 KO)
Rodriguez (10-5-3, 7 KO): First title fight; Four wins over foes with winning records
Fitzbitz says: "He's never been KO'd, but it's hard to figure why Rodriguez is here." Nietes in 9
Last week's picks: 3-0 Overall picks record: 214-75 (74.0 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at www.twitter.com/fitzbitz.