You only need to get your hand raised to be a winner in boxing. If you can get it raised enough times against the right opposition, you get to be a contender. After seeing his hand raised following the heated, back-and-forth action against Julian “J-Rock” Williams on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder 3 undercard, Vladimir Hernandez became a contender.

Hernandez, an Hombre Cencienta or Cinderella Man in the making, holds a modest record of 13-4 (6), but already holds wins over Williams and Alfredo Angulo. He was born in Durango, Mexico to a family of strong values. The younger of two brothers, Hernandez, 32, took an interest in trading leather by the age of 13. By his own admission, the southpaw missed a lot of school to develop his ring skills.

Hernandez’s career has been almost evenly split between Mexico and the United States. Following back-to-back losses in a 12-round light-heavyweight bout and a majority decision over eight rounds near the middleweight limit, Hernandez decided to seek greater opportunity for his boxing career. The relocation to Stockton, California, roughly halfway between Modesto and Sacramento, has certainly paid off in terms of his résumé, but the now-super-welterweight contender seeks more promotional support as a favoured fighter.

“I have a hard head,” Hernandez joked. “Thanks to that I have gained a lot of experience.”

Boxing fans may have seen Hernandez before in losing efforts on high-profile cards such as Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz I (DAZN) and Dmitry Bivol vs Jean Pascal (HBO). Like many low-profile fighters without A-side management, Hernandez was brought in to lose to boxers with greater promise such as Israil Madrimov and Souleymane Cissohko. Lose he did, but Hernandez left the ring with valuable experience that surely helped him push past Williams and Angulo just a short time later.

“[I believe] they were underestimating me,” Hernandez stated. “Nobody knows me and nobody knows why I lost my last fights. I was never able to train one hundred per cent. [Now] we have worked on the mistakes of each fight we have had.”

Hernandez asserts that the Madrimov (TKO by 6) and Cissokho (l pts 8) opportunities came on late notice and his efforts to drop weight just hours before the latter fight to meet the contractual agreement stole something from his performance. Even still, he disagrees with the scoring of the Cissokho contest.

Against Williams, fans saw Hernandez fall behind early and absorb some very educated punches. However, his durability and stamina allowed him to completely control the second half of the fight in spite of being cut, bruised and swollen about his face. He never slowed down against Angulo either, but controlled that bout from the onset. Hernandez has won his last three fights on points, beating fighters with a combined record of 69-11-2.

Hernandez’ style is not unlike that of many Mexican boxers that came before him. Since he lacks one-punch KO power, he relies heavily on his conditioning.

“In the morning, I run six-seven miles. Then I rest before going to the gym,” Hernandez described. “We do 25-30 rounds of everything. Ten rounds of sparring without stopping, throwing any blows. Ten rounds on the punch mitts. Five [rounds of shadow boxing] with a lot of waist movement. If I think, I can box at a distance with movement, but with Williams [I had to do it differently.]”

Hernandez expressed his respect for each boxer he faced as tough opponents, but rates Williams ahead of the pack. Now that he has added that victory to his résumé, Hernandez believes he may be perceived differently as a boxer.

“I think that [next] time they know that I am something dangerous and they know that I will be more dangerous because I will train better,” he predicted. “I am a person who is wanting to fulfil a dream and help his family and move forward with my daughter. All my achievements are based on effort without the help of a promoter. The only thing I have to do is work hard and with effort I can achieve what I want.”

That effort has earned Vladimir Hernandez a number 10 ranking at super-weterweight with the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Given the attention received from scoring one of the year’s great upsets in an all-action fight, Hernandez has earned a shot at another top ten contender.

Source: Danny Flexen