Mauricio Herrera Saga

Photo by Al Applerose

Mauricio "El Maestro" Herrera's Journey

By David A. Avila

A year ago Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera only dreamed of participating on a large boxing card let alone becoming the main event in a metropolitan arena dripping with prizefighting history.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Herrera. “I had almost given up hope.”

The Riverside junior welterweight contender Herrera (21-5, 7 Kos) is a mere two weeks away from facing Hank Lundy (25-4-1, 12 Kos) at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles on July 11. Golden Boy Promotions plans a huge outdoor and indoor party to celebrate the arena’s importance in boxing. 

Herrera, 35, started his pro boxing career much later than usual at age 27. Though he did have an amateur background that included building a reputation as a skillful boxer with slippery moves that could fool any opponent out of their socks, he couldn’t show off his moves to the pros.

“I would sit in front of the TV watching guys I fought in the amateurs,” said Herrera. “I would tell people I beat that guy and they wouldn’t believe me.”

Loyalty was the obstacle blocking Herrera’s path to the pro ranks and for many years he did not make any attempts because of his trainer - at the time - forbade him.

“He didn’t like professional boxing,” Herrera said, adding that he would continually ask permission to pursue a pro career. 

After many years of frustration as he watched others in his amateur group climb up the rankings of professional boxing, Herrera finally got his wish. His first pro fight took place on August 24, 2007 at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel. He defeated a very tough opponent Angel Osuna in a middleweight fight. He was quickly signed by Thompson Boxing Promotions who are very adept at spotting boxing talent.

It took two years to drop down to his true fighting weight of 140 pounds at the junior welterweight level. He was never a big puncher and at 5-feet, seven inches in height with a slim built, he was not a middleweight. So eventually he shrank to a weight class that fit his talent.

Starting a pro career at 27-years-old doesn’t allow for much time to carefully groom a boxer. Instead of easy pickings Herrera was immediately cast in dangerous waters with killer sharks touting impressive records. After his second pro bout he never faced an opponent with a losing record.

“There was no time to build him up,” said Alex Camponovo back in 2007. “It’s sink or swim.”

Herrera swam with relative ease. He defeated solid prospects like Alan Velasco and Santiago Perez. In a mere two years he grabbed his first regional title. By October 2009 Herrera was facing elite level fighters like Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis and former world champion Mike Anchondo. Though he lost to Anchondo it was his first televised fight and that led to many more.

Perhaps his biggest win came against Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov in January 2011. In a bruising affair that many labeled the “Fight of the Year” the Riverside fighter emerged the winner though he looked like someone had hit him with a baseball bat. 

“That was my toughest fight,” said Herrera. 

Next week we’ll continue the boxing saga of Herrera and his march to elite status. For tickets information call (800) 653-8000 or go to

Fight chatter

Diego De La Hoya (10-0) leads a group of young prospects appearing at the Belasco Theater in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday July 2. The cousin of Oscar De La Hoya faces Jose Estrella (14-6-1) in a featherweight match. Also on the card will Oscar Negrete, Gilberto Gonzalez, Emilio Sanchez and Melsik Baghdasaryan. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Oscar Valdez (16-0, 14 Kos) survived a flash knockdown in the first round and proceeded to dominate over Ruben Tamayo (25-6-4) on Saturday in a 10-round featherweight clash at the StubHub Center in Carson. Valdez, a former Mexican Olympian, is managed by Frank Espinoza and promoted by Top Rank.

Riverside’s Omar Chavez (34-3-1, won by majority decision over Hector Munoz (23-15-1) after 10 rounds on Saturday in Shelton, Washington. Chavez, 25, is the youngest son of Mexico’s great Julio Cesar Chavez. He attended Ramona High School.

Diego Magdaleno (28-1, 12 Kos) captured the WBO International Lightweight title by knockout against Puerto Rico’s Jose A. Gonzalez (24-2, 19 Kos) on Friday in Hidalgo, Texas. Magdaleno trains with Joel Diaz in Indio, California. He has three consecutive knockout wins.

Jose Roman (21-1-1, 14 Kos) floored Mexico’s Marco Antonio Lopez (24-7, 15 Kos) in the second round but still found himself in a rugged fight. Roman won by unanimous decision after eight rounds in their lightweight clash at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. Other winners were LaRon Mitchell, Cesar Villarraga, Fernando Fuentes, and Humberto Rubalcava.

Fights on Television

Tues. Fox Sports 1, 6 p.m., Vyacheslav Shabransky (13-0) vs. Paul Parker (7-0).

Thurs. Fox Sports 1, Gilberto Gonzalez (24-3) vs. John Karl Sosa (13-0).