Exclusive Interview: Fres Oquendo

By G. Leon


Exclusive Interview: Fres Oquendo

GL: What's going on Fres? I've been hearing you're going to be fighting Hasim Rahman on November 13. What can you tell us about that? "Hopefully Rahman has the heart and will to take on all comers as he says. Because yeah, they're working on it as we speak. I'm getting ready right now, I'm focused, I'm in great shape here in Chicago and people are going to see a difference in me. I'm over here getting great sparring with Golota. He's getting ready for Ruiz on that night and I plan to beat Rahman on that show as well. It's going to be a lot different than my last fight because my mind will be focused and I won't have the distraction with the management, Trinidad's financial advisor, my former manager (Pepe Ramos) who informed me wrong in my negotiations for these championship fights. But I'm just happy to be back in Chicago, I'm out here with my family and friends and they're all supporting me."

GL: What's the sparring with Golota been like? Have you been giving him some tips about Ruiz?

Fres Oquendo: "It's been great man. I advised Golota and his people that Ruiz an awkward tricky guy. When you think he's right there in front of you he's got that awkward style where he can make you miss. When I fought Ruiz I was impatient and I had a lot of pressure on me mentally so I wasn't really able to execute my game plan. But Golota has a very good chance of upsetting John Ruiz if he can stay focused like he did against Byrd. He just needs to throw punches in bunches, be smart and show up in great shape. I take nothing away from John Ruiz, but he's the luckiest heavyweight champ in history. If he gets by Golota though he's going to have to deal with me again because after I get by Rahman I want him next. In this game you've got to win and wait you turn, unfortunately I wasn't able to capitalize when I got the opportunity, but now I'm more focused than ever. The saying goes, 'three strikes you're out' but I know I'm not going to strikeout the next time I fight for the title."

GL: So what do you think of Rahman?

FO: "He's a dangerous fighter, but I'm faster, younger and better. I'm a better technician and I think it's going to be a very interesting fight for the public, especially my people in Puerto Rico who have been so loyal to me after I was shortchanged in my last fight."

GL: Nobody questions you're skills, but towards the end of some of your fights you seem to fade, get tired and start holding. Is that something you feel needs to be worked on?

FO: "I want you to put this in writing to let the people know. Unfortunately, my last camp for the Ruiz fight....you can only do so much in the ring and it all comes down to preparation. When I was preparing for the fight with Ruiz, I'm not making an excuse, but I was in Puerto Rico so I didn't have any great sparring. In Puerto Rico it was like fighting an amateur or hitting a little kid. That goes my back to my manager not doing a good job of getting me sparring. I trained hard for the fight, I weight trained and I ran real good, but the most important thing in boxing is sparring, that gym work. I didn't execute the way I normally do because I didn't get the right work I normally do. As a far as stamina, maybe the lack of sparring showed in that fight but I've turned over a new leaf. I'm back where I got started and my undefeated streak got started."

GL: So what happened with your manager that the two of you are no longer together?

FO: "He made bad deals on my behalf. My training regimen and my purses for the fights were kind of cheated because he didn't do his job. Unfortunately, he's the Trinidad's financial advisor and him not doing what Trinidad did for me when he was managing me kind of makes the Trinidad's look bad. Everybody is different though and I know Trinidad meant well for me when he put Pepe in my corner, unfortunately Pepe wasn't a man of his word like he said he was in the begininng."

GL: I spoke with Pepe recently. He told me that you were trying to get away from him, but he says he still has a valid contract. He says he offered you a buyout of $250,000 and you came back with $50,000....he said he cut it down to $150,000 but you still didn't want to do it. What's the story with that?

FO: "It's been coming out a lot in the press that he doesn't want to let me be unless I pay him a quarter million, I mean has he lost his mind? The last four fights I had, the man didn't negotiate my purses right, but he was there for his share of the money. He was all about the money...he wasn't out for my well being, or for my career. He was there for the greed and the money. For a contract that Papa Trinidad gave him for FREE he wants to charge me a quarter million! And out of my generosity and kindness I offered him $50,000. He had the audacity to turn that down and threaten to take me to court. But right now my people are talking to him and they're negotiating. He's been calling my brothers and they're in contact and he's been coming down to reality. And the reality is the guy isn't going to get what he's demanding because he isn't worth a dime. This business is wicked and crooked so I'm going to give him a little something, but it's not going to be on his terms it's going to be what I say. He's got a bad reputation in Puerto Rico and it's coming out in the major newspapers and he's feeling the heat because he's trying to slow down one of Puerto Rico's icons. He can't let his greed hold down my career, but I think things will get squared off."

GL: Will this situation with Pepe prevent the fight with Rahman from moving forward?

FO: "That's what he's making it out to be, but we'll come to terms. He's been calling everyday and he's probably getting desperate to get to a final agreement because if he wants me to pay him he has to let me fight. I have a promotional contract with Don King though, not him. So I'm going to fight regardless because that's a seperate issue. I spoke with Dana Jamison and I told her my position. She told me that she's looking forward to working on my best behalf, so I just thanked her and Don King Productions for being on my side during this situation."

"This fight with Rahman is the opportunity of a lifetime and I have to take full advantage of it...I want to take on the best comers on my way to the title, right now Rahman is #1 in the WBA so this is an opportunity I couldn't let go. All of my defeats have been controversial...I feel I'm a great fighter and I'm going to answer all questions on November 13. November 13 is D-Day for me."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say to the people in closing?

FO: I want to say what's up to all my people from Puerto Rico, and Panama who have showed me nothing but love and support, all my brothers in the projects, I want to thank them. I also want to thank all my brothers in the Bronx and the rest of New York, Pennsylvania and Chi-town."


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