At 40, “Fast” Fres Oquendo (36-7, 23 KOs) has continued to fight on despite disappointing losses and controversial decisions that have kept him from being crowned the heavyweight champion of the world. Somehow, because or in spite of it all, Oquendo has fought on and earned the rank of the WBA # 6 and WBC # 12 contender.
Now, with his career’s end in sight, Oquendo looks for that last chance for what he terms “that elusive world title.”
In the following interview, Oquendo discusses how he has managed to preserve his body and ranking, about potential opponents and his upcoming sparring with heavyweight contender Artur Szpilka as Szpilka prepares for his January 25th HBO showdown with fellow contender Bryant Jennings.
There’s a lot left. I’ve got unfinished business. I need that elusive world title. Sometimes people forget that I came up with fighters like Tua, Byrd, and Ruiz, and I’m still here ranked at the top after all these years. I will become the first heavyweight champion from a Latin country.
Why have you been able to preserve your body despite facing and sparring top opposition at or near their primes?
It’s a combination of taking care of myself out of the ring and using my skills in the ring. I eat healthy; I always stay in shape; I don’t drink or smoke; and I get sleep. In the ring, you know, I’ve always had skills to avoid the punishment. You know, I’ve been doing this a long time; I was a national champion at 19. You need those skills at this level, especially at heavyweight if you’re gonna last.
You are ranked as high as # 6 by the WBA and # 12 by the WBC plus you have faced better opposition than many of the heavies out there, so why hasn’t your name been tossed around for the big fights?
Just politics. You all know how it is. A lot of these fighters have these really powerful promoters who are getting them the TV slots. For me and my team, Hitz Boxing, Square Ring and Tom Tsatas, we’re doing it on our own dime.
You know, we’re doing it the hard way. We’re taking solid fights not on TV to stay busy to keep our ranking against fighters like Joey Abell, who just fought Pulev, and Derric Rossy, who’s been in the ring with a lot of good fighters. We’ve picked up several regional titles and now it’s time for the big ones.
So then, what’s next for you?
Well, to stay busy, I should be returning to the Horseshoe (Casino) in Indiana on February 28th with Bobby Hitz Boxing. I was hurt in my last fight with a torn meniscus and torn labrums in my shoulders. I’m healed and ready to go now, and after February 28th, I’m looking to land a major fight against any of the top ranked guys.
Have their been talks about you facing any of the top rated fighters? Like Jennings, Povetkin, Ortiz or Arreola?
Jennings is gonna face Szpilka, Arreola and Stiverne looks like it’s a done deal, and I’ve got a relationship that makes the fight with Ortiz difficult, so I’d be happy to take care of Povetkin. Heck, I’ll be Povetkin’s comeback fight. There’s a lot of good fighters out there that I’d like to fight though.
Povetkin or Deontay Wilder. Povetkin is ranked with the WBA, so that could lead to a title, and a fight in Poland or Chicago would be huge against him. Wilder is ranked highly with the WBC, and I’m #12, so that would work. He’s a strong, young buck who needs to be tested, but I’ll make Wilder the next Seth Mitchell. I’d use my skills and speed to make him look really bad.
If one of the major fights that you just mentioned doesn’t happen anytime soon, would you be willing to face Szpilka in Chicago or even travel to Poland after his fight with Jennings?
Of course. I’m willing to fight anybody, and that fight would be a no-brainer in Chicago with the Puerto Rican and Polish people, but right now, I’m scheduled to help Szpilka in sparring to get ready to upset Jennings. That’s my only focus with him; he’s a good kid.
So, the Chicago boxing rumors about you sparring with Szpilka are true?
Yes. I’m planning to leave after the holidays to help him get ready. It’s a favor, but it will be good for both of us. He’ll be getting good work from a top ranked veteran like myself, and I’ll be getting some sparring with a strong, young buck like Szpilka.
What do you think of Szpilka’s popularity in the States, particularly Chicago, where he was a major draw for the August 16th ESPN2 Friday Night Fights at the White Sox ballpark (U.S. Cellular Field)?
It’s great. The Polish people really come out to support their boxers, and I think he’ll get a lot of support on the East Coast too.
Fans have watched you for years in the ring. Outside of the ring, what is it about you that has made you so liked and admired in your community?
You know, I’m a people’s champion. I’ve always faced the best competition and even though I’ve been robbed, I’ve never quit. I bring that attitude to my community and I always give back or sign an autograph or take a picture.
Yes. My organization, the Fres Oquendo Boxing Academy or FOBA, works with the youth to help them knockout violence and drugs through boxing. I’m even gonna be pairing-up with another Chicago boxing hero, David Diaz, to start building a gym together. This is what it’s all about.
Anything else you want to add?
You know, I grew up in the Chicago housing projects and if it weren’t for boxing, I’d probably be dead or in gangs or on drugs. I just want to use my God-given talents and what I’ve learned through hard work to win that elusive world title, so I can keep giving back. And, happy holidays and thanks to you guys at FightNews for the interview.