Herrera turns the page, faces Lundy next

Photo by German Villasenor

Photo by German Villasenor

 

2014 was the year that was and the year that wasn’t for junior welterweight contender Mauricio Herrera. In fights versus Danny Garcia and Jose Benavidez, he showed he was indeed one of the world’s premier 140-pounders and the consensus was he had done more than enough to win both bouts.

 

And what did he have to show for those two outings?

 

Two excruciating and heartbreaking losses that exhibited that boxing is every bit – or more – business than actual sport.

 

Herrera simply didn’t have the money or influence surrounding him and therefore, “house fighters” got the nod over him. The hard-luck Herrera simply wasn’t going to get his hands raised in those outings short of scoring stoppages. He describes his 2014 – which also included a solid 10-round victory over Johan Perez – thusly, “Frustrating, bittersweet, can easily make somebody retire going through all that but I try to turn it around and let it motivate me and turn it into a positive and just keeping it positive and good things started to come and now I got [Hank] Lundy in front of me and a great opportunity.”

 

This Saturday night from the LA Sports Arena, Herrera faces another difficult task in the skilled Henry Lundy in the main event on HBO Latino. What’s at stake is the vacant NABF title but you just can’t help but think that perhaps Herrera should be defending the recognized junior welterweight championship.

 

In retrospect, he understands that under no circumstances was he going to get the nod versus Garcia in what was billed as the latter’s “homecoming” to Puerto Rico (no matter how dubious that storyline was). “I wasn’t going to win that fight. Going to Puerto Rico was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a world title. We couldn’t say no to that. I knew Danny in the past, so I wasn’t afraid of him. I went in there as confident and, as you could see in the fight, I did what I had to do and I knew either way they were going to give it to him. So as long as the people saw what happened, I can live with that,” said Herrera, who overcomes his lack of pop (just seven stoppages in 26 pro fights) with a sharp and educated left hand.

 

And versus Garcia, he simply kept beating him to the punch with his jab and neutralized Garcia’s favored weapon, the left hook, by throwing shorter, more compact punches from mid-range and using deft movement. The consensus is Herrera had won that fight in the 8-4 range but instead lost by the scores of 116-112 (twice) and 114-114. In looking back, he’s more convinced than ever that he should’ve gotten his hands raised in victory that March evening on the Island.

 

“Oh, yeah, I knew that night that I won that fight and hearing it from the people just motivates me more and, right now, I feel like I’m the world champion,” says the 35-year old from Riverside, Calif. “There’s no true 140 [pound champion], especially now that Danny left those belts – which he shouldn’t have had in the first place – so I feel I’m going in there defending my title.”

 

After defeating Perez on the Saul Alvarez-Erislandy Lara pay-per-view undercard, Herrera was paired with Benavidez in December for the WBA interim junior welterweight title in Las Vegas. While it seemed like a more neutral setting, as this was a co-promotion between Top Rank Promotions and Golden Boy Promotions (which represents Herrera), Top Rank was the lead promoter.

 

And in another highly-debated decision, Benavidez was awarded the victory after 12 rounds.

 

Herrera, whose record is a deceiving 21-5, said of that fight, “I thought I was winning the fight and, going into the 12th, I still said, ‘I just got to go and still make it a great show, go out there in the 12th round.’ I wasn’t afraid of the guy, afraid of his punch, didn’t think he was going to hurt me and I went out to go out with a bang in the last round and I did that. It wasn’t till they started reading the scorecards that we felt something was strange was going to happen and it almost – as I thought it – it happened and I was just more in shock.”

 

Yeah, as Yogi Berra once said (as only he could), it was deja vu all over again for Herrera.

 

”I was just numb to it and it didn’t hit me till after the fight; a couple of days later, that’s when I started thinking about it. I don’t let it get to me. I stay positive and not even think about it,” said Herrera, who, at the very least, got to showcase his skills on HBO and Showtime last year and earned a measure of respect throughout the industry for his efforts and professionalism.

 

Now he faces the difficult Lundy and Eric Gomez, the VP and matchmaker for GBP, says what’s on the line is “a possible world title fight; obviously we’ve already been approached by Top Rank to maybe do Terence Crawford, which is a fight we would consider. So there’s a couple of big fights out there. The winner is going to be in good position.”

 

For Herrera, whose resume is dotted with recognizable names, it’s another risky proposition. But perhaps Herrera really didn’t have much of a choice. It’s been a theme throughout a career that has seen him develop from a local club fighter in Southern California (who fought at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario numerous times) to a bona fide 140-pound contender.

 

“We went over a list of opponents and we discussed it with [Mauricio] and, for some reason, he loved the fight and he thought that it was a style that he would match up with perfectly,” said Gomez, in explaining their decision to consummate this match-up.

 

“Athletic, southpaw, he’s tricky; he’s flashy,” is the way Herrera sizes up his upcoming foe. “But hey, I love the competition. None of that scares me; I have my own style, Lundy’s going to have to prepare for that too. I’m tricky as well. I think it’s going to be a great stylistic fight for both of us.”

 

This figures to be a solid prizefight between two veterans with a lot on the line.

 

“I think you’re going to see a little bit of everything,” said Herrera, “but, at the end of the day, it’s going to be an action fight and you’re going to see who wants it more. Two guys who are real hungry and fighting for the NABF [title], so something special has to happen on that night.”

 

 

LA SPORTS ARENA

 

Golden Boy returns to the LA Sports Arena, which actually has a deep history with boxing. The last time the company worked here was in Dec. of 2012 when it featured Amir Khan-Carlos Molina.

 

“It’s a historic place. It’s something that we are building on. They’ve been great partners for this event. They bent over backwards to accommodate us and it fit perfectly,” said Gomez, who added, “They’ve been calling us wanting to do some stuff with us and they bent over backwards. They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.”

 

This old venue – the original home of the Lakers and, just as importantly, where Carver High won the city title in “The White Shadow” – is going to be torn down for a new soccer stadium, which is a bit of a shame since it became an alternative venue for boxing when other buildings like the StubHub Center and Staples Center were unavailable.

 

Speaking of which…

 

 

HE SAID, THEY SAID

 

Oscar De La Hoya told the LA Times’ Lance Pugmire that he feels his company is being frozen out of AEG facilities like the StubHub Center and Staples Center and it’s been quite awhile since they have done a card from those venues.

 

The last fight card GBP held at the StubHub Center was in June of last year when Robert Guerrero battled Yoshihiro Kamegai. This embargo – for lack of a better word – seems to coincide with the departure of their former CEO, Richard Schaefer.

 

Halfway through 2015, Golden Boy has yet to do a promotion from an AEG-owned property. They wanted this upcoming event at the StubHub but were unable to place it there for whatever reason.

 

A couple of weeks ago, Ivan Goldman of BoxingInsider.com wrote about the CSAC coming down on Al Haymon for reserving dates at local venues to keep other promoters like Golden Boy from reserving them for their own events.

 

He then followed up with this.

 

Then the CSAC released a statement to BoxingScene.com that denies these allegations, even going as far as to say Goldman had “misquoted” the subjects in his article.

 

Goldman didn’t back down as he responded with this.

 

It’s interesting to note that the Executive Director of the CSAC, Andy Foster was none-too-pleased by the shenanigans that led to the Lucas Matthysse-Ruslan Provodnikov fight not taking place in Southern California and landing in Verona, New York. Also, sources tell UCNLive.com that Foster had made assurances to officials at both Golden Boy and Top Rank – who both do extensive business in California – that such tactics would be put to rest.

 

So it’s obvious that this subject has been at least addressed internally by the commission in some form or fashion. But perhaps they didn’t want to alienate Haymon, whose shows bring television tax revenue to the state. It’s still not clear what the commission can do to prevent venue squatting; maybe that’s really up to the venues themselves to police themselves.

 

What’s interesting is that in light of the recent lawsuit filed by Bob Arum versus Haymon and his cabal and these recent stories, Golden Boy, which felt as though it was being shut out at AEG, is suddenly discovering that now all pertinent parties are more receptive to their ideas. “It’s been a 180 degree turn, the last day or so,” said a Golden Boy official on Thursday night at the Belasco Theater.

 

 

LA FIGHT CLUB

 

So what’s the future of the “LA Fight Club” and the other Golden Boy presentations now that its association with FOX Sports 1 has come to an end?

 

“We’re working with a new television partner and we’ll be finalizing it in the next couple of weeks,” explained Gomez. “But we’re going to keep going; obviously we’ve been selling out pretty much every show. One of the things a lot of the fans said is, ‘Hey, are you guys going to move to a bigger place?’ We don’t know yet right now. Belasco’s been great; it’s a good intimate setting. We’ll see; we’re looking at everything but, right now, it’s a great platform for us to build some of these up-and-coming kids that are just starting off and these prospects that are becoming contenders.

 

“It’s a great platform for them. We’ve had a lot of support here in Los Angeles.”

 

It’s believed that one of the new platforms moving forward for Golden Boy will be of the digital variety.

 

 

THE SQUARE JUNGLE

 

In my very biased opinion, nobody does it better than our very own Carlos Acevedo. Here he is with the latest edition of The Square Jungle.

 

 

3 KD RULE

 

“The 3 Knockdown Rule” podcast (with Mario Lopez and I) has two new episodes this week and you can download them right here on iTunes.

 

 

FINAL FLURRIES

 

There will be a Fiesta Fan Fest prior to the fights from 1-6 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at the LA Sports Arena that will have food trucks, a beer garden, meet-and-greets with fighters, etc…Tickets for Herrera-Lundy are priced from $100 to $10…In case you missed it (and it was July 4, after all), here’s the latest on Miguel Cotto-Canelo Alvarez…So Joey Chestnut lost the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest?! That truly is the end of a great sports dynasty…Football season is right around the corner…So these moves the Lakers are now making, uh…are they good?…So the Spurs are a lock to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy next season, right?…I can be reached at steve.kim@ucnlive.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.

 

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