One day after a hard fought victory Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera revealed that he almost pulled out of his debut for Golden Boy Promotions.
The reason: a respiratory infection.
“I had a fever, I was weak and couldn’t breathe,” said Herrera, while riding back home from Las Vegas. “I had no energy.”
El Maestro learned that sickness and injury are a prizefighter’s nightmare but it happens more often than fans realize, especially in the major events. Herrera almost pulled out of his debut for Golden Boy Promotions but realized the magnitude of the show and plodded forward against Venezuela’s Johan Perez.
Box office stars are not immune.
In the past Floyd Mayweather has fought despite injured hands against major competition and still moved forward. The only question is how many times did he overcome injuries and still fight?
Oscar De La Hoya was another who fought with brittle hands that packed power, especially with his lethal left hook. Injury was never an excuse for De La Hoya to pull out of a fight that his promoter Top Rank had spent millions setting up. Yes there’s insurance, but fans can only tolerate so many cancellations.
When Mexico’s great Julio Cesar Chavez was set to fight De La Hoya in 1996 he suffered a bad cut while sparring just weeks before the fight. He opted to fight and the cut was quickly re-opened by De La Hoya’s rapier-like jab. Chavez lost by technical knockout.
Herrera was luckier than Chavez. Despite a body wracked with infection the Riverside junior welterweight refused to cancel the fight, though there were moments that wished he had.
“Johan Perez was already a difficult opponent. He’s tall with long arms. Even if I was healthy it was going to be a tough fight,” said Herrera. “But I couldn’t cancel the fight. I worked too hard for this and the opportunity to fight on a card this big may never come again.”
Watching the fight was former junior middleweight world champion Sergio “The Latin Snake” Mora, who was surprised to hear Herrera was sick during the fight.
“Earlier in my career I used to always suffer an infection just before a fight,” said Mora, who is now signed with Lou DiBella. “I found out it was due to a wisdom tooth that would get infected when my immune system was low due to training.”
Now fighting at middleweight, Mora realizes sickness and injury are part of the game. One of the middleweights he would like to fight had a similar experience last year.
WBA middleweight titlist Gennady “GGG” Golovkin met ring tough Gabriel Rosado in the ring, and weakened and slowed by the flu, needed seven rounds to take out the junior middleweight from Philadelphia. Beating Rosado is not easy even when healthy, but Golovkin powered through the energy sapping flu to eventually stop the gritty Rosado.
Injuries and sickness are not confined to boxing. Recently female MMA star Ronda Rousey defended her UFC bantamweight title despite a persistent knee injury. It took her a mere 16 seconds to knock out Alexis Davis in their encounter earlier this month in Las Vegas. Rousey revealed after the fight she will undergo surgery to repair the problematic knee.
Fighting through injury and sickness is almost a requirement when it comes to the mega fights.
“I’m glad I did it,” said Herrera, who is now the number one ranking junior welterweight according to the WBA list. “I couldn’t breathe and I had no energy but I got through.”