By Jake Donovan
Less than a week following the announcement of his next fight date and title defense, reigning two-time 108 lb. titlist Adrian ‘El Confesor’ Hernandez now also has a new voice in his corner.
Former three-division champ Jeff Fenech will now serve as trainer for Hernandez, who next defends against Puerto Rico’s Janiel Rivera on February 8 at a yet-to-be determined venue in Mexico.
“Jeff and Adrian have already developed chemistry and are looking terrific in the gym,” notes Oswaldo Kuchle of Promociones del Pueblo, who will promote the event.
Fenech’s journey halfway around the world from his native Australia has been well received, despite the Hall of Fame boxer’s well-documented track record against Mexican fighters. Highlights of his impeccable résumé include wins over fellow Hall of Fame fighters Daniel Zaragoza and Carlos Zarate, the latter igniting his 122 lb. title reign in 1988 following a successful tour at bantamweight, which began just seven fights into his pro career and one month shy of his 21st birthday.
Despite his success over three weight classes, Fenech is best known for his in-ring rivalry with Azumah Nelson. The two fought to a controversial draw in their first fight, which came on the undercard of Mike Tyson’s June 1991 rematch win over Razor Ruddock in Las Vegas.
The verdict denied Fenech a shot at becoming a four-division champ, with Nelson reigning as 130 lb. king at the time. The rematch proved far more conclusive, with Nelson traveling to Australia to knock out Fenech in the 8th round of what was hailed as the 1992 Upset of the Year.
Revenge was found in the oddest of forms – the two fought a third fight in June ’08, more than a decade after each had called it a career and already earned enshrinement in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Fenech, 44 at the time, claimed a 10-round majority decision in the final bout of his career, 12 years following a 2nd round knockout loss to Philip Holiday in a failed lightweight title bid.
Fenech has since remained active in the sport as a trainer. Among his past clients include Sakio Bika, Vic Darchinyan, Daniel Geale, Danny Boy Green, Hussein and Nedal Hussein, Lovemore N’Dou, Victor Oganov and the comebacking version of Mike Tyson.
The international star now hopes to put an extra pep into the step of Hernandez (28-2-1, 17KO), widely regarded as among the best 108 lb. fighters in the world.
Their first fight together will mark the fourth defense of Hernandez’ second reign, which began with a revenge-fueled one-sided 6th round knockout of Kompayak Porpramook in Oct. ’12. The win avenged a 10th round knockout loss to Porpramook on the road in Thailand ten months prior, thus ending his first tour as 108 lb. champ.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox