By Ryan Maquiñana
The boxing world has drained the phrase “iron chin” to exhaustion in describing fighters with the ability to withstand massive punches that detonate upstairs on impact.
In unbeaten lightweight prospect Daniel Hernandez’ case, however, the term actually rings more truthfully than others.
“I have a piece of a bullet stuck in my jaw,” he said. “Someone shot me when I was coming out of a party one night. I haven’t been able to fight since that happened, but I’m finally recovered now and I’m ready to pick up where I left off.”
After a two-year hiatus, Hernandez (11-0, 6 KOs), a native of South Gate, Calif., returned to the ring and won a six round unanimous decision over Cinturon de Oro runner-up Jorge Resendiz (5-3, 4 KOs) at the Foro Polanco in Mexico City. The contracted weight was 138 pounds.
“This is a kid who can punch with both hands, good power, good speed,” manager Eddie Gonzalez said. “He’s been looking good in camp and he’s made a remarkable recovery from being partially paralyzed.
“We’re not going to match him up with a tomato can, either. We want to see what he can do right away with this guy.”
Before his return bout took place, Hernandez spoke with BoxingScene.com about the fateful night he cheated death and his renewed purpose as he continues his pro career.
BoxingScene.com: After two years since your last fight, you’re finally getting back in the ring. What caused your absence?
Daniel Hernandez: Someone shot me when I was coming out of a party one night. I haven’t been able to fight since that happened, but I’m finally recovered now and I’m ready to pick up where I left off.
BoxingScene.com: How did it happen exactly?
Daniel Hernandez: As far as what I remember, it was an accident because I think it was a random shooting. I was coming out of a house with some friends after a party, and when I opened the door, I was shot in the back. The bullet went through my back and it broke off. One half got really close to my brain and the other went to my left jaw. I have a piece of a bullet stuck in my jaw.
BoxingScene.com: And yet, you’re here to tell about it. How close were you to dying?
Daniel Hernandez: The bullet was really close to my brain. I was partially paralyzed for a couple weeks before my feeling came back. Actually, when I first woke up after getting shot, I thought it was something that happened in the ring. I have a little problem with my hearing, but other than that, everything’s back to normal. Recovering in the hospital and learning how close you came to dying, it just makes you thank God and make you not want to waste the rest of your life. It makes you work harder and put it all out there.
BoxingScene.com: This fight’s in Mexico City, so you’ve been approved to fight there. Have you been approved yet by the California commission?
Daniel Hernandez: I’d love to be able to get approved by the commission back home in California again. I tried to apply with California. They asked for an EEG, a CAT Scan, everything. There was a physical exam. The doctor checked out my hand and my brain, and how my body worked, and they didn’t approve me there, but I’m now approved to fight here in Mexico, so I’m just glad to be back. Just coming back, it’s the only thing on my mind right now.
BoxingScene.com: Knowing that there is a light at the end of this two-year tunnel in that you finally have a fight lined up, what’s going on in your mind now compared with the time you were just leaving the hospital?
Daniel Hernandez: Just being able to have another chance to fight again. All my hard work I’ve poured in the last couple years in the gym every day have been worth it. It’s been in my heart to prove to myself that I still got it.
BoxingScene.com: For those who haven’t been able to see you fight, how would you describe your style? Most fighters like to say they can do everything, but to be specific, what would a fan watching Daniel Hernandez for the first time see?
Daniel Hernandez: Yeah, I like to do a bit of everything. I guess I’m a good body puncher. I slip punches really well and I like to slug with both hands when I have to. I’ve been sparring John Molina and Darley Perez for this fight, and I’m ready.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have anything else you’d like to tell the fans?
Daniel Hernandez: To all the fans, thank you for still being there for me. Hopefully I can come back to fight in Southern California, but I’m grateful for the chance to fight in Mexico, and hopefully I can win over some new fans there, too.
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly column for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (CSNBayArea.com). He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Panel. E-mail him at [email protected] , check out his blog at norcalboxing.net or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.