Interview: Mauricio Herrera: "El Maestro" Ready to return and excite the fans
By Hector Franco
November 16, 2016
This Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera (22-6, 7 KOs) will make his return to the ring against Pablo Cesar Cano (29-5-1, 21 KOs). Both men are rebounding from losses and looking to bounce back into the boxing landscape. The fight will be televised on EstrellaTV and RingTV.com. In this interview, Herrera speaks to FrontProof Media about his last fight with Hank Lundy, his plans for the future and some upcoming fights.
HF: All right, Mauricio, one of the first questions that I wanted to ask you today was, starting off, I've heard rumors and I didn't know if it was true, that you actually started boxing when you were 27 years old. Is that actually true?
MH: I started pro at that age. I didn't start boxing at that age. I started at 13.
HF: What exactly got you started in boxing? Why did you end up choosing that profession for yourself?
MH: I didn't really choose it. It kind of just chose me, I guess you could say. Really just wanting to fight all the time with my brothers, and of course my dad and his uncles. I just took up boxing.
HF: Pretty much you came from a fighting family.
MH: They weren't boxers or anything, but they loved boxing. And when we put on the gloves, they loved watching us scrap in the front yard. It just became that way, entertaining them but at the same time, we started liking it and following it until they finally took us to a gym. Me and my younger brother and my older brother, but he didn't really follow through with it. Then I started beating him up and his older friends. I thought I had something so I started going to the gym. I was giving it hard and it wasn't years until I had my first trainer, Rudy, that anyone paid attention to me. I just kept with him and my brother was right along side of me. Whatever I did, he did. When I went pro, he went pro. There was a while, a big gap, where I trained myself.
HF: Since you guys grew up kind of with boxing and watching, who were some of your influences growing up and inspired you and who were some of your favorites?
MH: Growing up, whatever tapes I had at the time. We didn't have cable or anything like that. The tapes that I would get a hold of were Julio César Chávez, a lot of Mike Tyson, some of Marco Antonio Barrera, Marquez, Oscar de la Hoya, Félix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins. I had a lot of them. One of the best ones I even look up to today is James Toney.
HF: He's definitely one of my favorites, too. I still think that one of my favorite fights of all times is the first fight with Mike McCallum. It's all you could want in a boxing match.
MH: You want to learn boxing, just watch those fights he had with him. You learn everything by those fights.
HF: I know you have a fight coming up on November 18th against Pablo Cesar Cano. We haven't seen you in the ring since May 7th against Frankie Gomez. Is there anything you're doing differently preparation wise to face Pablo Cesar Cano?
MH: Yes, the last fight, my timing was all off. My training, my time off killed me too. It didn't help me out there. There was just a lot of bullshit that went on. I took too many months off and I had to whip into shape real quick for Gomez and I couldn't get my best up. He was a good fighter, though. Even if I was at 100%, he still would have been a tough fight. Now I got a conditioning coach who is really training differently in the body. That's one of the newest things we're doing. Getting some tougher sparring. When I came back from LA, in terms of sparring out there, and I think all of those little things and getting back to my regular routine. That's something I wasn't doing in the past and I just let myself go for a little bit. Now I'm back in it and I'm feeling I'm 100%. You're going to see a fresh Mauricio that night.
HF: That sounds great. We saw you in that fight with Frankie Gomez. You didn't look quite like the same Herrara. I noticed that you haven't fought since. You only fought once in 2015 and then you had the fight with Gomez. With that inactivity there, was that due to just not being able to get a fight?
MH: No, what happened was the fight I had before Gomez was with Hank Lundy, and I don't know if you saw that fight but I got a big cut under my eye. One was really deep and I had to take some time off, and then during the time off, it had gotten infected so I had to take more time off. During that whole time, months are going by and I’m doing nothing and finally, I took advantage and let my body rest one time in my career. And then jump on it and finish it off however long I am going to fight for.
I did that and an opportunity came up with Golden Boy on the Canelo card with Gomez, and they didn't offer me who I wanted. I'm the type; I said for that card, I wasn't going to lose the opportunity so I was going to go forward with whoever. I knew Gomez was tough going into that and at the same time I only had 2 months to really get down and train. It's the best I can do. So you start lying to yourself and you say you're going to feel the same, you're going to feel good and make the weight, which was more of a fight. It came time to fight and nothing came out. As you can see, it looked like crap. That was part of it because I know I could do a whole hell of a lot better than that. I think the time hurt me, and the weight loss hurt me, but then again, you can't say no to a fight like that.
A lot of fighters know you are not going to get the perfect chance for what they are going through in their personal life. I took it, and it woke me up, so I had to stay ready and stay hungry and right after that fight I stayed in the gym. I think this fight is going to come together and I'll get back on it.
HF: That's actually something I wanted to ask you about because you're pretty much a veteran in the game now. I see that you fought three times in 2014, and then because of the cut you only were able to fight once in 2015. In this era, most boxers’ fight only once or twice a year, for you when you turned pro at 27, how important is it for a boxer to stay active?
MH: You have to stay active, the better off you are. The more in shape you are the better you’ll be. The other reason could be, your promoter. My first promoter, them guys don't put up their own show, they are the middle man, so they wait for the promoter to give them a call and sometimes you have to be in shape before you ... if you don't have a big promoter like Golden Boy, you have a smaller promoter, it doesn't get as much and they'll pull you in with short notices. Golden Boy gives you time train. They give preparation ahead of time that you're going to fight. Due to this long layoff, of course, 6 months of not doing anything, when they gave me the call it was about 2 months. It should be a good amount of time to get ready. I wasn't even doing anything so it made it that much tougher. I still went in with everything I could during that fight and that's how it happened. It's tough when you're going through different things.
HF: It sounds like the fighters want to stay active but there are outside forces that don't allow you to stay as active as you could be.
MH: Yeah, in the beginning, you have to push it all. If you're fighting 4-rounders, you have to stay active and keep fighting. You don't take breaks. I didn't take breaks in the beginning of my career at all. That was actually the first break I took, with the Lundy fight. Before that, I was just staying in the gym and everything was working out fine, as you see in all my fights. I always come in in decent shape. That was the only time I really looked like crap. I learned my lesson there. A lot of fighters learn the hard way. Now I know. I knew it but I just did it anyway thinking I was smarter than that and I can pull it off.
HF: Sometimes you got to take that risk. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't.
MH: Yeah, that's what it is.
HF: Looking at your opponent. He's a younger guy, he's been in with some good fighters, Paulie Malignaggi, Shane Mosley, and he’s been in with Ashley Theophane. I think he fought Johan Pérez, Érik Morales. What do you think of him as an opponent? How do you see the fight going?
MH: It's a good opponent but I think his style of fighting and my style will make an exciting fight. I see myself coming out on top, winning on points because the guy is tough. He's tough as nails. He comes forward. He doesn't give up, and neither do I. I've never been stopped. I think it's going to be a good fight. I'm training right now, doing my thing. He's the type who likes to come forward, more of a boxer, but I like to mix it up as well. I think I can find a good rhythm and give him a good run with Pablo and do my thing.
HF: I was looking for some information about the fight with Cano. Are you fighting Cano at 140 or 147?
MH: No, we’re fighting at 144.
HF: Okay, 144. Is that something you both negotiated and thought it was the best to go in the middle there?
MH: You know the Gomez fight we wanted it at 147. For whatever reason, they wanted it at 146. Which didn’t make sense to me but whatever we took the fight, I looked like shit, felt like shit. They asked me for this fight to be at 144. I feel the weight is right to see how I feel if I do want to make that jump to 147. Or maybe stay at 140. Cano is actually a bigger guy. Maybe that’s why they wanted 144. He may not be able to make 140. He hasn’t had a fight in a while.
HF: It seems like your able to mix it up, box, and brawl a bit. Speaking of that, I wanted to ask you something, share your thoughts about this. Last June Ruslan Provodnikov, lost to John Molina Jr. I still remember the fight that you two had. Is he the biggest puncher you faced in your career?
MH: There were a couple guys who punched pretty hard. He was one of them, actually. He does have a heavy hand. He does punch guys out win or lose. They come out with marks. The guy hits like rocks. Another hard puncher that I've faced was Mike Alvarado. He hits pretty hard too, in terms of a variety of punches. He has a pretty good pop.
HF: Mike Alvarado, I remember that fight you guys had. He throws a lot of punches. He has a very high volume.
MH: He has a high volume, and they're all pretty decent. I think those really stand out. I was in pretty good shape and none of them really stunned me, but I felt it afterward, especially if he catches you in a good spot.
HF: I still remember a picture of you and Provodnikov after the fight on the internet and it just looks like you guys just went to war. I don't know if you've seen that picture.
MH: Yeah, my brother took that picture. I actually went to the hospital after the fight. He was right there in the hospital and he took the picture. I know that guy was tough. Meeting him on ESPN, we weren't anybody, but I knew this guy wanted to fight somebody and he's going to show how tough I am and he did exactly that when he fought Bradley. It let me know where I'm at and then people knew who I was. It gave me a little credit and what I've been doing. It helps out a little.
HF: It absolutely did. Speaking of where you're at, after this fight, I know you don't want to overlook any opponent, but going into 2017, where are you looking at going to? Are you trying to position yourself back to maybe rematches in fights that you know you want or are you looking for a title shot once again?
MH: After this fight, they do have, if everything goes well, they do know that Lucas Matthysse is coming back. They mentioned that to me. I think that's the fight they want to make and that's somebody I haven't fought. His style is also a perfect style with mine. I'm looking at doing that fight. I'm not even thinking about title fights. If it comes yeah, but I'm looking to get the best fight for the people. That's what I'm really worried about right now, putting on great shows for everybody and give it all I got and if a title comes, it comes. If it doesn't I'll keep putting on great shows.
HF: We hear a lot of fighters in this era say the opposite. Where they don't want to take tough fights, it's always strategic and it's more about what you can get paid. Some people forget that boxing is entertainment and having fights is just as important. I want to thank you for doing that consistently in your career.
MH: No problem. The thing with me is, like the fighters back in the day. They have wins, they have losses, but they kept fighting and they kept entertaining the people. I'm at that point, after the Gomez loss, I'm going to give it all I got, 100%, I hope I get the win but if a loss comes I keep on going. I'll look for a fight that people can enjoy. That's where I'm at now. If I get a title shot, I do, but I'm going to keep giving my 100% and look for the fight that can really make some magic happen.
HF: We're definitely going to be watching you with the Pablo Cesar Cano when you face him on the 18th in Indio, California. I wanted to get your thoughts on some upcoming fights. November is a big month for boxing. There's going to be some fights. We've kind of had slower months in October and August. Looking forward to some fights, everybody has probably asked you about this, but Danny Garcia is going to be fighting in November. He's already got a fight set up with Keith Thurman. How do you see that fight going? Being in the ring with Danny and pretty much everybody except for 5 people had you winning the fight. How do you see that fight going between Danny and Keith Thurman?
MH: That fight to me seems to be a 50-50 fight for me. Well, you know what, I don't know why some people give Thurman a little edge because he can box. He can box and he can move his feet and do more things than Danny can do. His chin is still a little hurt. Jesus Soto-Karass hurt him a little.
HF: He also got hit in the body and got hurt by Luis Collazo?
MH: He's had some fights where he's been getting hurt so that's the only thing I see. Other than that, they can box and pull out a boxing match and tie him up. He will have a pretty good shot at beating Danny but I think it is still going to be a tough fight for both of them. Just the amount of boxing Thurman has can give Danny problems.
HF: For a lot of fans that they saw him lose to you and they saw him lose to Lamont Peterson. Many may feel it's finally his time to get that loss out of the way.
MH: They want to put a curse on him. I really thought he lost a while back to Ashley Theophane. When I first saw him I didn't really know who he was but I was watching the fight and I was betting my brother law, yeah, okay I'll go for this guy and I thought he pulled it out. I know nobody cares about that now because it’s in the past but the sad thing is after a while people just forget. I pulled the win off and maybe people who saw him don't want to see him lose again. Whatever happens, happens. I don't care for either fighter win or lose. I’m just trying to do my own thing.
HF: Before I let you go, Mauricio, Is there anything that you would like to say to the fans or any way that they can reach you via social media. The floor is yours you can go ahead and let them know.
MH: Thank you very much for this interview. I want to thank the fans for their support. I want to say that Mauricio “ El Maestro” is back. You’re going to see him in action. We’re coming hard for this fight. I’m not going to let you down and give you a great show.
HF: Absolutely, thank you so much for doing this interview.
(Featured Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank)