Genaro "Chicanito" Hernandez was one of the great super featherweights of the last 25 years or so, but talk to anyone about him now and you won't hear a peep about his boxing ability.
Hernandez finished his career in 1998 with a 38-2 record and 30 knockouts. More significantly, he was 13-2 in world championship bouts, losing only to Oscar De La Hoya in a lightweight bout in 1995 and to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a super featherweight match in 1998.
For the last three years, Hernandez has battled rhabdomyosarcoma, a virulent form of cancer. He died at his Los Angeles home on Tuesday, leaving a legacy as a man that far surpassed the Hall of Fame credentials he compiled as a boxer.
"He was everything you could have wished for in a boxer and an athlete, but he was a wonderful person," his longtime promoter and friend, Bob Arum, said on Thursday. "He trained hard, he didn't engage in trash talk. He had respect for his opponents and the sport. He was a great warrior. The way he handled this cancer was amazing. He never gave up and fought as hard as he could, and he handled it with so much class.
"He was as good as they get. As a fighter, as a commentator and as a man, he was always the perfect gentleman."
Services for Hernandez will be Monday at 11 a.m. PT at Resurrection Church in Los Angeles.
Now let's switch gears to your questions and comments about boxing in the return of the mailbag.
How much credit does Mayweather deserve?
I was glad to read that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is going to fight Victor Ortiz on Sept. 17. It's always good when the best fighters are active. But does Mayweather deserve credit for fighting a young, talented and hungry fighter like Ortiz, or should he be blasted for yet again failing to make a fight with Manny Pacquiao?
That's a great question, Craig, and I think the answer is a little of both. All it would have taken was one word from Mayweather after the Pacquiao-Shane Mosley fight last month, and he would have had a bout lined up against the Pacman. He knows full well how badly fans want to see that fight, but he chose to sign to fight someone else. That said, anyone who believes a fight with Ortiz is simple is delusional. I believe Mayweather will win because, while I have great respect for Ortiz's ability, like Pacquiao, Mayweather is on an entirely different level. But he can't just show up and win. Ortiz has great skills, and he'll make it a fight. So, for his first fight in 16 months, no one can complain too much about a match with Ortiz.
Can Roach solve riddle of Mayweather defense?
Can trainer Freddie Roach figure out a way to pierce Floyd Mayweather's defense? Oscar De La Hoya couldn't do it, and Roach trained De La Hoya against Mayweather.
Cebu City, Philippines
If there is any trainer in boxing who can find a vulnerability in Mayweather's defense and devise a way to exploit it, it's Roach. Roach already has watched hundreds of hours of Mayweather tape looking for such weaknesses. The longer Mayweather waits to fight Manny Pacquiao, though, the more one would think he makes himself vulnerable. Every fighter loses a certain amount of speed and quickness as they age, and Mayweather is 34. He's got great awareness in the ring, and that will never change, but he's hitting the age where his physical skills are going to begin to diminish.
Don't like the leftovers
Allow me to make one comment about your column saying that Pacquiao fights Floyd's leftovers: You said Mayweather beat Juan Manuel Marquez 12 rounds to zero, but whose leftovers were those? Did you forget that Manny fought the prime Marquez at his ideal weight in 2004 and again in 2008?
I remember both of those Pacquiao-Marquez fights very well, Nathan, because I was at each of them. They were among the finest fights I've ever covered. But get things correct, Nathan. I didn't say Manny is fighting Floyd's leftovers. I said that's what Floyd is going to say. He's already said it in the past, and I believe he'll make similar comments when he speaks to the media about his upcoming fight with Ortiz.
It's the quality of opposition that counts
Great fighters are only defined by their competition, not simply by their record. The only way to prove you are a great fighter is to fight all of the best fighters of your era. You can't fool the fans, who will know if you try to duck a fight or script your career. There will always be an asterisk on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s career unless he agrees to fight the best opponent of his time, Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather may be undefeated, but it doesn't mean anything unless he fights Pacquiao.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Floyd's level of opposition became suspect when he moved above lightweight. When he was a super featherweight and then a lightweight, he fought the best that was out there, and the wins he gained over those opponents are enough to earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. He's been far more selective since, and he's received a ton of deserved criticism. Mayweather likes to say he's better than Sugar Ray Robinson, which is ludicrous no matter who he beats, but it's beyond ridiculous to say that if he never fights Pacquiao.
Fight before the end of the world
Hopefully, Pacquiao and Mayweather can get it on before the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012.
I'm with you, Humberto. If we're going down on Dec. 21, 2012, I'm sure we'll all have some better things to do in those final few days other than listening to Mayweather ranting and raving about himself.
What's the deal on drug testing?
Is Mayweather going to insist on the same type of drug testing that was done before his fight with Shane Mosley when he fights Victor Ortiz? Considering there have been allegations by Andre Berto that Ortiz may be cheating, the testing issue is the real story.
Berto made a completely unfounded allegation on Twitter, which he later retracted, that suggested Ortiz may have taken performance-enhancing drugs before their April 16 bout in Mashantucket, Conn. It won't matter, though, because Ortiz agreed to Mayweather's testing demands and will be subjected to the same Olympic-style testing that Mosley underwent prior to his bout with Mayweather.
How about Hopkins-Martinez at 168?
Please explain to me why sports writers and boxing fans aren't talking about a potential match-up between Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez at 168 pounds? It seems no one at light heavyweight is currently capable of beating Hopkins (yes, this includes the beloved "Bad" Chad Dawson), and no one at middleweight is even worthy of being in the same ring as Martinez right now. Is such a matchup really that unrealistic or out of the question?
New Iberia, La.
The problem is that Martinez is a small middleweight and only moved up to 160 in the first place in order to land a big fight. He's much more comfortable at 154 pounds. Hopkins might be able to make 168 – "might" being the operative word – but even if he did, he'd have a considerable size advantage. It's certainly not a bad bout, and I agree with you about the prospects for Martinez at middleweight. I just hope that Alfredo Angulo's immigration status is cleared up and his other issues are resolved, because a Martinez-Angulo fight would be epic. For those who don't know, Angulo didn't have the proper paperwork to legally be in the U.S. and was deported to Mexico last year.
I am glad Andre Ward is blossoming but why isn't Carl Froch on any pound-for-pound lists? Who has had a more impressive resume over the last couple years? If he beats Ward, I think he is top five pound-for-pound. This is coming from someone who is not a fan of his style, but gives him credit. He finds a way to win.
Without question, I think Froch deserves to be considered for the top 10, though I believe others above him have a slightly better case. That said, I agree that if he defeats Ward, he'll definitely make the top 10 and may make the top five. I'm sticking with my pre-tournament choice, however, and am picking Ward to win Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.