By Jacob Chavez
Photography by John Booz
It is not everyday that fight fans get to see two of their area’s most popular fighters do battle in a must-win situation. But that is exactly what will happen Friday night when Chicago’s very own Miguel “Macho” Hernandez (20-8-0, 10 KOs) and Luciano “El Gallo Michoacano” Perez (16-9-1, 16KOs) meet for WBF All-America’s Middleweight Title. The venue hosting the “Windy City Fight Night” card will be the newly adopted home of Dominic Pesoli’s 8 Count Productions, the UIC Pavilion.
Both Hernandez and Perez have had notable accomplishments in their careers. Hernandez won the Illinois State Middleweight and the WBC U.S. Middleweight Title. He also appeared on the hit reality series, “The Contender”, and faced elite competition including the likes of former world champions, Raul Marquez and Yori Boy Campas.
FightNews caught up with “Macho” to ask the significance of this match and what is in store for him down the road.
Chicago fight fans are very passionate about their boxing. How do you think the public will respond to this type of an event where two warriors they know so well and like so much will clash against each other?
Well, I think fans will have mixed feelings. It is fair to say that his fans are mine and vice versa. But I can tell you that Friday night they are going to get money’s worth. I need to win this fight not just for myself, but for my sons and fans.
You and Perez turned pro three months apart from each other. What has life been like outside the ring between the two of you as your careers have developed?
We have been fans of each other and supported one another. When he fought Mike Jones and was stopped, he came to the gym and gave him a hug. He just smiled and nodded. We don’t hate each other. We are friends, but come fight night we will not be friends in that ring.
You mentioned before that the loser should retire and that the winner should continue looking for better things in the sport. Who would you like to face or which of your losses would you like to avenge should you win?
I believe it is true; the winner should move on and the loser should retire. I work very hard, but getting ready for a fight does not get easier with age. We have accomplished a lot in boxing and I wouldn’t want to see him get hurt. If I win, I would love to come down to 154 and face Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. or possibly a rematch with Derrick Findley, who has a big fight the day after the mine. I would like to face big names that will improve my ranking.
How has your preparation been for this fight?
Training was great, but I had to get used training and working at the same time. I feel great. I have lots of discipline. I feel the love of the sport came back this time. Rick Ramos has been great in training. Sam Colonna has been great but with my job we have scheduling conflicts. Thank God for the Chicago Boxing Club, it is not far from my house at all. I have been sparring with Angel “Toro” Hernandez, Michael Walker, the Cook brothers, and really talented amateurs.
What advantages do you possess over him?
My boxing skills are a lot better. We both can hit but I think I can box better.
Out of the fights he has won, he boasts almost a 90% KO ratio. Is there a strategy that you have developed specifically for him?
There was no new strategy. I prepared just like I did for my other fights.
You mentioned your balancing act with work and training. You are a police officer for Cicero, correct?
Yes, I work for the Cicero Police Dept. part time, but I was able to get three weeks off for training. My fulltime job is as a railway mechanic. That’s hard work. I have to get under cars, lift them with the jack and work on them. I consider that my strength training.
You have three sons. Tell me about how boxing has impacted their lives.
Yes, they are Joshua, Jeovani, and Justin. I have tried to teach them that when you want something in life, you have to work hard to get it. I didn’t have a big amateur career. My first time in the gym was when I was 27, so they see the hard work and dedication I put into the sport. My son Joshua is an amateur boxer now.
How involved do you plan on being in the local boxing scene or in your son’s career after you retire?
I wished my son would not fight. He is a golden honor role student and goes to UIC for advanced Algebra courses, but all I can do is support him. My younger sons are great in school, too. I want to stay in boxing, though. I love kids and if I can help them and be a trainer, I would love to do it. I think I would be great at it.
If you retire after this fight, what would you say your proudest achievement would be?
I would say my whole career. I believe I am blessed. Nobody gave me a chance in the beginning. My father told me that I was not that young. I have fought a lot terrific fighters: Marquez, Yori Campas. And I was on the “Contender”. We all know I am not making a million dollars for this fight, but I feel I am truly blessed. I am surrounded by good people: Dominic Pesoli, Rick Ramos, and Sam Colonna.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the fans?
I lost my grandfather on Dec. 20th; I loved him to death. He is the reason I had so much strength and I am going to dedicate this fight to him. I want wish my grandma happy birthday. And I want to say that I am going to fight for my sons and my fans, not just for myself. I have to win this fight because I promised my sons that I would win a title for each one of them. The Illinois State Title was Joshua, the WBC for Jeovani and this is the opportunity for Justin to get his.
Contact the author.