A pair of Riverside prizefighters headline main events on back-to-back days when Mauricio Herrera and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Junior welterweight contender Herrera (19-3, 7 Kos) faces Miguel Huerta (27-10-1, 18 Kos) in the main event at Ontario’s Doubletree Hotel on Friday. The following day Chavez (46-1-1, 32 Kos) meets Bryan Vera (23-6, 13 Kos) at the StubHub Center in Carson. That fight will be shown on HBO.
Herrera has endured two successive years of brutal fights and technical puzzles with differing results. One common theme has been that all of those fights were engaging and exciting for fans and viewers.
If you needed to describe Herrera, he’s a Mexican version of James Toney. He’s right in front and not running from anybody. But he’s very hard to hit.
“James Toney, he’s one of my favorite fighters. I watch all of his old fights, he does everything,” says Herrera, who slips and punches with the best. “If I’m going to study anybody it’s James Toney. That’s my style.”
During the first week of 2011 he met little known Russian slugger Ruslan Provodnikov at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. After 12 eye-popping rounds with the big puncher it was Herrera who emerged with a close victory. Just three rounds in, the Riverside boxer had a hematoma the size of a hard-boiled egg. The fact he lasted 12 rounds was a near miracle, but rallying to beat Provodnikov looks even bigger now.
“I think I got a little bit of credit finally when Provodnikov fought Tim Bradley,” said Herrera. “Now they know he’s a guy known with a tough chin. I took the fight because I wanted to see more or less where I’m at. That fight made me where I’m at now. It gave me an opportunity.”
Then, Herrera out-boxed slick fighting Mike Dallas Jr. only to meet Denver’s knockout punching Mike Alvarado in Las Vegas. For 10 rounds he gave every ounce of energy and battled Alvarado until the final bell. That performance convinced many that Herrera belongs on the big stage.
It’s not often you find a slick fighter like Herrera exciting. Though he doesn’t carry chloroform in his blows he also doesn’t bore fans because he’s right in the middle making people squirm while he dodges and retaliates.
The Riverside junior welterweight came so close to fighting Brandon Rios on two occasions. But it didn’t happen.
“I wish it would have happened. Rios had a shoulder injury and he pulled out. It was so close and they went with Alvarado,” remembers Herrera. “I got to take whatever they offer.”
Herrera’s opponent Huerta hasn’t fought in nearly five years. Coincidentally the last guy Huerta fought was Alvarado, who knocked him out in four. This qualifies as a relatively easy fight for Herrera. But in the boxing ring anything can happen especially when you’re fighting a southpaw like Huerta.
“Hasn’t fought in a while,” said Herrera of his next foe Huerta. “He may come back refreshed or he may come back rusty. But I can’t take him for granted.”
On Saturday the world will know if Chavez fights as a super middleweight, light heavyweight or a cruiserweight against Texas middleweight Vera.
Chavez, who attended high school in Riverside, Calif., has a recent history of problems making weight. As a fighter the son of Mexico’s greatest warrior doesn’t lack in tenacity or power, but willpower in keeping away from food has been a major obstacle.
If Chavez steps in the boxing ring you can expect a bull of a fighter with an equally bullish chin to fend off any attacking middleweight. Speed, not so much. Power, he has more than enough. He may need it against Texas tough Vera who lives for power exchanges like a human power conductor. Fans will see quickly whether Vera or Chavez can shake off the other’s power blows or if one will sink into oblivion. It’s that kind of fight.
“It’s very important to me,” said Chavez. “I am coming off a loss and I want to show everyone what I am capable of doing.”
Vera has knocked out two consecutive opponents to get to this point and though Chavez has a great chin, it remains to be seen if endurance will play a factor. Vera has endurance.
“He’s used to having his way,” said Vera of Chavez. “He might come in at 190.”
That’s not a joke. It’s a strong possibility that Chavez could weight 190 during the actual fight.
“He’s always blowing up,” Vera said. “I can’t stay in front of him. I need to move and step around him. I’ve built a game plan.”
Another Riverside County prizefighter on the Top Rank card will be undefeated junior lightweight Gabino Saenz (10-0-1) against Dominic Coca (8-4).
Who will win the Sergey Kovalev vs Andre Ward fight?