By Carl Hewitt, Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
It’s rare that a fighter’s stock rises dramatically after a disputed decision “loss”, but that’s exactly what happened for former WBA interim junior Welterweight champion, Mauricio ‘El Maestro’ Herrera. Real Combat Media was able to catch up with Herrera recently to discuss his career, his impressions of the boxing landscape and what fans can anticipate from him in 2016.
RCM: Hi Mauricio. How has it been going since your win over ‘Hammerin’ Hank Lundy earlier this year?
Mauricio Herrera: Everything has been going really good signing with GB last year has changed my life..my win with Hank LUNDY was a little sour it was not the way I wanted to win. I was so fucking angry that night and the whole situation that played out.
RCM: I saw the promotion for the Lundy fight. He said some rather disrespectful things before and after the fight. Do you feel he was trying to get into your head or was it more a case of him psyching himself up.
MH: The promotion for Lundy’s fight was him trying to get in my head and when that didn’t work it was him psyching himself up…LUNDY is a loud little man I don’t care for him much.
RCM: The Lundy fight ended prematurely on cuts. Were the cuts due more to a clash of styles or something else?
MH: The fight ended in cuts not the way I wished. The guy was very wild with his head that first round. It was part of his style, but I also felt he was doing it intentionally once he saw what the damage he had done.
RCM: Is a Lundy rematch something that you and Golden Boy are looking at, or do you prefer to challenge for one of the belts at 140 in early 2016?
MH: A Lundy rematch is not something we’re talking about. By the way, Lundy is garbage to me and not a man. He was disrespectful to my wife before and even weeks after the fight. I felt like hey the fight is between me and you. But that’s in the past for me. Our plans were to fight Matthysse if he got the win over Postal, but that shi# went out the window. You know I feel a championship belt is so close I can taste it. But something always goes wrong for me. Smh…My plans are for the biggest fights 2016.
RCM: You have more fans out there than you can imagine, especially after your strong showing against Danny Garcia in Puerto Rico. Even many of Danny’s fans conceded after the fight that you deserved the hard-fought decision that night. What was the main thing you took away from that fight?
MH: You know going to Puerto Rico and fighting Danny for the world title was a dream come true..being robbed and not having those belts at that time did not make me angry what I took from that was the people welcoming me. The fans…seeing them cheer and being excited. Everything I felt I can achieve really was confirmed that night.
RCM: What got you started in the sport and what influenced your style the most early in your career?
MH: Growing up in Riverside, California, my younger brother Albert who is a pro as well together we loved to fight each other..there was a total of 6 of us 3 bros n 3 sisters..and we had lots of extra family living with us. There was a lot of fighting in the house as you can imagine. At 13 they bought some boxing gloves and my father and uncles would watch me beat up my brother and his friends. My mother was actually the one who found a boxing gym at a church where me and my younger brother would attend. At that time it was Chavez and Tyson that I was imitating among others.
RCM: Boxing fans in California are some of the best and most supportive in the sport. Is it Golden Boy’s plan to feature you more on big cards in the future there, especially since the 140 lb. division is really starting to heat up again?
MH: Golden Boy’s plans better be for me to fight on big cards and possibly a world title fight at 140. I don’t care for prospects. I’ve proven myself I want the lions.
RCM: Were you able to catch the recent Postol-Matthysse and Granados-Imam fights? If so, how shocked were you by the results? Did you almost fall out of your seat like I did? I had Postol-Matthysse as a 50/50 fight going in. Seeing Matthysse get stopped in the 10th Round was a shocker for me, as well as most fans and media.
MH: Yeah, I attended the Matthysse fight and was shocked at what happened, plus I knew I lost my shot with him. But that’s the rhythm of boxing and congrats to postal. Granados also pulled the upset in great fashion.
RCM: We’re all praying for the recovery of Prichard Colon, who was seriously injured in his last fight on October 17th. What additional protections would you like to see implemented for the protection of boxers at the professional level?
MH: Prayers are out to Colon. I would like to see the fighters be more protected and I feel the refs have be extra trained for those scenarios.
RCM: Rabbit punching seems to be more prevalent and tolerated now than it was in the 80s and 90s. Do you also notice an increase in rabbit punching? Referees are not doing a good enough job penalizing fighters for not only rabbit punching, but also turning their heads away in clinches, thereby exposing themselves unnecessarily.
MH: I do see a lot of rabbit punching, but I don’t know if there is more of it going on than in the 80s and 90s, but as we now know, it is a dangerous punch and they need refs to really be trained and aware of it maybe — less warnings, I don’t know.
RCM: Would the sport be better-served by a centralized governing body at the federal level, as opposed to each state having its own athletic commission, as well as regulatory guidelines?
MH: I’m assuming if we have a governing body in place it would be for the best but, I doubt any of that will ever happen.
RCM: Switching gears at this point, if you could go back to the 80s or 90s and be any fighter from that era, who would you be? Who were your favorite fighters from that golden era? Mine were Aaron Pryor, Salvador Sanchez, Mike McCallum and Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez.
MH: If I was a fighter from the 90s, it would have to be James ‘Lights Out’ Toney. The guy had all the tools a fighter should have and a real throw-back. (Aaron Pryor was a beast by the way!)
RCM: Back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, having an undefeated record didn’t make a fighter “elite”. Guys had to step up to the plate and fight the best around, even if it meant moving up to another weight class. That’s what guys like Wilfredo Gomez, Alexis Arguello, Tommy Hearns and Michael Spinks did. Why do you think so many fighters now are so reluctant to step out of their comfort zones? Is it because they’ve been influenced by the new risk/reward model established by fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto?
MH: You’re absolutely right! Fighters back then fought and no excuses, they pushed themselves to their limits – that’s the mentality you should have. Today, there is more money for the fighters and that controls a lot of their thinking.
RCM: There have been mixed reviews about Al Haymon’s PBC series, but hardly any of the fighters on Al’s roster complain. In fact, most of them say nothing but great things about Haymon and the fact that he gets them paid better than they’d be paid under other banners. Do you see the Haymon model of more fights/fewer major fights/more television access as a sustainable model over the long haul?
MH: Al Haymon has so many fights on TV, I can’t keep up. I hear the fighters get paid well and are not complaining. It’s the fans that will if they don’t see major fights take place. I don’t know what his plans are for the future, but eventually the best have to fight the best and the people will demand it.
RCM: Conventional wisdom has always been that it’s difficult for stars in one sport to cross over to another. Holly Holm’s stunning KO of Ronda Rousey opened a lot of eyes. Do you think we’ll be seeing more stars from the sport of boxing crossing over to MMA? Would it be harder to cross over from boxing to MMA or vice versa, based on your impressions of both sports?
MH: Congratulations to Holly – that was a great fight! I don’t really watch MMA, but that video of the Holm-Rousey fight was all over the media, so I had to watch it. I think boxers and MMA fighters are totally different. MMA fighters can learn and take away something from boxing to help in their sport, but boxers can’t really use any of those other MMA skills in the ring. But both can cross over. I just don’t know how far they can all get as far as success in a new sport.
RCM: It’s been a pleasure catching up with you, Mauricio. I get the impression you’re primed for a big year in 2016. Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans about what to expect in 2016?
MH: I just want to thank you for this interview. You are one of the first ones to reach out to me since the LUNDY fight. I thought ya’ll forgot about me lol… In 2016, my fans can expect me in some big fights. I’m coming to expose all the hype fighters in the new year. Thank you all for the love!
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