"I look forward to getting back in the ring with the eye of the tiger"
Fres Oquendo was marching towards victory, ahead on the scorecards during his bouts with David Tua and John Ruiz before both fights were stopped in favor of his opponents. He also came up on the losing end of a controversial decision for the IBF championship against Chris Byrd. Former manager Jose Ramos, failed to get him even the contractual minimum he was entitled to from promoter Don King, but Oquendo believes these setbacks are merely small steps backwards. The Big O sees a bigger picture, one that he hopes will protect him from wear-and-tear while lesser-known fighters duke it out against today’s champions. Boxingtalk spoke with Oquendo recently about the setbacks 2004 dished out to him, and what he has done to ensure that 2005 will be a much brighter year for him.BoxingTalk: Fres, we haven’t seen you in the ring since last April. What’s been going on with you lately?
Fres Oquendo: I’m doing great Darren, I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring. I was supposed to fight Hasim Rahman but he decided to take on a lesser opponent (Kali Meehan). So I just have to sit down and wait my turn, hopefully I get some action no later than December. Don King will be coming to Chicago in a couple weeks to promote the Andrew Golota – John Ruiz title bout, so while he’s over here, he’ll hopefully put me in the mix.BT: What are your thoughts about this battle of the heavyweights coming up on November 13th?
FO: I should have been in it.BT: Many observers including Chris Byrd felt you beat Chris Byrd last September, but yet you are not a part of this big night of heavyweights, while a guy like Larry Donald is. What do you feel is the reasoning for this?
FO: Who the hell is Larry Donald? Who has he seen? How does he get a big TV date like the one coming up on November 13th? I don’t know man, it’s junk to me. I fought Byrd and it’s like Don King worked a miracle and paid off the judges. I fight Ruiz and they controversially stop it even though I’m ahead on points [Oquendo led on two official scorecards while one judge had it even at the time of the stoppage]. I have two strikes going against me, but my third time I will definitely hit a homerun.BT: Do you feel you are purposely being left out of the November 13th bouts?
FO: I think it is more that I have been going through a management dispute. My former manager, Jose Ramos, who is Tito Trinidad’s father’s financial advisor, unfortunately has not been managing me with my best interests in mind. I signed a promotion contract with Don King for a certain amount of fights for a certain amount of money, and Ramos never negotiated for my minimum, he only negotiated my fights below my minimum. So right than and there, he breached my contract. I’ll soon be hooking up with Don King to talk about my future and tell him I am ready to get back in the ring.BT: Two of the people fighting on November 13th – Chris Byrd and John Ruiz – you have fought and arguably beat, and I know many fans out there feel you should be a part of this…
FO: Oh yeah. It is unjust. With Tito coming out of retirement, and him being Don King’s Golden Boy, and my former manager Ramos being his assistant, it is conceivable that they’re trying to get back at me since I fired Ramos. I’ll talk with King, he’s got to give me a fight before the year’s over with, and I’m looking forward to get back in the ring by December.BT: Are you in the gym staying active right now?
FO: Yeah, I’m in the gym consistently, running with a friend of mine, Freddie Cuevas, who fought Jermain Taylor, and is a top notch fight in the junior middleweight division. He’s motivating me and assisting in my training right now.BT: I just spoke with Cedric Boswell and I want to ask you the same question. Being a heavyweight, do you feel your division is in as much trouble that people say it is?
FO: Unfortunately it is because of the type of decisions that I’ve experienced in my fights. The champions now are not as charismatic as past champions, and therefore it takes away from the sport’s most prestigious title. I was hoping to clean that up with my two valiant efforts against Ruiz and Byrd, but unfortunately the decision was unjust. Sooner or later they will have to meet up with some real competition – like me.BT: With each of your three losses, the decision either did not go your way, or at the time of the stoppage you were ahead on the scorecards…
FO: Oh yeah, I wiped David Tua out. He got lucky in one round. I got cocky because I was dominating him so easily that I ended up going toe-to-toe with him, and I just got caught with a lucky punch. That’s what happens in the heavyweight division when you make a mistake.BT: Before that fight, I picked you to beat Tua, and I was looking pretty good until about the ninth round…
FO: I know, but I guarantee you that will never happen again. He hurt me, but they should have given me an eight count and let me fight now, but that’s the politics of boxing.BT: What should we expect from you in the coming months?
FO: I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’m my own man now, which means I’ll be self managed. I won’t have any wrong doings about my negotiations. My mind will be right, I look forward to getting back in the ring with the eye of the tiger, and getting a great victory over a great fighter.BT: Who do you have in mind for you next opponent?
FO: I’d like to fight the winner of Jameel McCline and Chris Byrd, or from the Golota – Ruiz fight. Each one of those fighters I know I can beat. I’m younger than they are, I’m faster, and I’m looking forward to prove to the people that I am my own man.BT: Who do you like in the Golota – Ruiz fight?
FO: That’s a pick ‘em fight. Ruiz is unpredictable with his weird style, and Golota has had some shoulder problems, but Golota is unpredictable too, so I say it’s a pick ‘em fight.BT: What do you feel you have to bring to the table in the heavyweight division that is lacking now?
FO: My unorthodox slick style, but first and foremost my jab. Of course that overhand right hand has always been my bread-and-butter. I proved that in the Chris Byrd fight by outjabbing a boxer, and I proved it in the Ruiz fight by dominating him with all of my jabs. I also don’t have the wear and tear that Byrd and Ruiz have.BT: What would you like to say to all those great fans out there in BoxingTalk land?
FO: I’d like to say thanks to all my supporters and people who have showed me a lot of love in my sport. Have faith in me as I will definitely not let you down coming into this championship year of 2005.BoxingTalk thanks Mr. Oquendo for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to seeing more action from him in the coming months and in 2005.
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