By Sam Geraci
Tonight at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN, one of Chicago’s most popular fighters, Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez (11-0, 8 KOs), intends to continue capturing Chicago’s Latin fan base as he attempts to prove that he is more than a club show fighter when he takes on the always tough and rugged Derrick “Superman” Findley (20-11-1, 13 KOs).
Findley is a true journeyman who has faced dozens of top fighters and gone the distance with Andre Ward and stopped Andrzej Fonfara. Although Findley has shared the ring with some of the sport’s top fighters and is fighting steps from his hometown of Gary, IN, “Hollywood Jimenez of Chicago, IL, who has built a Canelo-like following in the Chicagoland area among Latino fight fans, is expected to be the fighter with his named cheered come September 13. In the following interview with Fightnews, Jimenez discusses his fan appeal, style, opponent, future and thoughts on Mayweather-Canelo.
Jimenez-Findley is presented by Bobby Hitz Boxing Promotions and is part of the “Fight Night at the Horseshoe” series. Doors open at 7pm and tickets are still available.
How does it feel to be headlining your first major card, and it’s against your first major opponent?
I feel really good, and I feel really confident. I put in a great effort throughout camp and I’m confident it’s going to continue going our way come fight night.
On paper, this is your first real fight and it’s against a gatekeeper that should take you from a club show fighter to a real prospect. What’s your take on that?
It’s a great feeling. Up to this point all my fights have just been getting me ready for this. This is going to be the night that shows I’m not just a club show fighter. This is my opportunity.
Bobby said that you wanted a tough fight like this. Is that true and why?
I definitely wanted a tough fight. After my June fight, there was an option for a lesser opponent but I wanted to fight a guy who was gonna test me so I could learn. I want to make a statement.
Even though you’re going to have the size advantage on Friday, Findley is a strong fighter, especially in the upper body. What have you been doing to prepare for his strength?
We’ve been doing all kinds of work in the gym. I am going to use my size and my height in the fight to fight from a distance but I’m not really concerned about his size or strength. I’ve also had some really good sparring with bigger guys like Junior Wright, Ramon Venezuela and Simon Buettner to get ready.
What is Findley’s greatest strength as a fighter?
Honestly, I don’t know. He has decent defense with his big upper body because he can cover up, but I don’t see much offensively.
For those who haven’t seen your style, how would you describe it?
You could say I’m a straightforward fighter who can fight inside and out. I’m able to adapt to a lot of situations in there, and I’m basically a boxer-puncher.
What’s your best asset as a fighter? What’s gonna make you a world class fighter?
I think the fact that I’m an athlete and I can adapt to different situations. I like boxing on the outside, but I’m not afraid to get in there and turn it into a slugfest.
What else did you participate in besides boxing?
I’ve always played all kinds of sports in high school and I played football in college, where I also studied criminology. You know, I didn’t start boxing until after college.
What brought you to the gym?
Boxing was always something I was interested in. My grandfather loved boxing and put the passion in me. One day I just decided to go with Don [Donovan George], and I fell in love with it and have been going back basically every day since.
Can you elaborate on your relationship with Donovan?
We just hit it off. We’re similar guys and we are always working together in the gym. We’re like brothers, and our families are really close. If I’m not with Donovan, I’m with his brother. Don’s taught me a lot too.
Fonfara, a current top-rated light heavyweight, was knocked out by Findley years ago. Have you talked to him about this fight?
We have talked but not about that fight. Fonfara today is nothing like that fighter that lost to Findley. Fonfara’s fans hit me up on Facebook and are pushing me to go for the knockout (laughs).
What’s going to happen in this fight?
He’s never been stopped and he’s fought some tough guys. That’s what I’m going for. I’d like to be the first one to stop him. I’m just gonna stick to my game plan and listen to Pete George and stick to my game plan.
What’s next after this fight?
Hopefully some big things are coming. I’m looking to beat Findley in a big way, and I’m hoping that will open doors all over, not just here in Chicago.
Can you describe your background and connection with Chicago’s Latin fan base? To some fans here, you’re like the Canelo of Chicago?
(Laughs) I love Chicago fight fans. My father’s family is from Colombia and my mother’s family has roots in Mexico. They were Austrian-Swiss and moved to Mexico after the war. I’ve really just had such great support here.
What is it about you that makes you so popular in the city?
I’m just somebody people can become a fan of. I’m easy to relate to, and when I come out to fight, I like to give the crowd their money’s worth and play to them. It’s easy to become a fan of “Hollywood.” I’m also not afraid to get out there with the fans to interact.
As one of Chicago’s most popular fighters, fight fans want to know which promoter you are going to be working with?
Bobby Hitz has been great to me, and he has what it takes to pick the right fights for me and to get me to a world title.
Last question. Floyd or Canelo?
I got Floyd by decision. He’s just gonna be too quick. After seeing Floyd fight in person, I gained so much more respect for him because he has such slight movements to make these guys miss. He makes it look like these guys are not near his level.