By Chris Robinson
During his sixteen-plus year career, Mexico City's Jorge Lacierva may not have carved out a hall of fame ledger or even won a world title but he was able to make a little bit of a name for himself between 112 and 126 pounds over the years. Such highlights of the 32-year old's career include a spirited battle with a prime Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson, being the first man to defeat excellent Columbian champion Mauricio Pastrana, and giving Panama's Celestino Caballero more than he bargained for in losing a decision in August of 2007.
And Lacierva certainly isn't in a hurry to hang up the gloves, returning from a nearly two-year layoff to reel off three victories over the second half of 2010, the last being somewhat of an upset over Joksan Hernandez in Campeche, Mexico on December 18th. Lacierva says that he is next slated to see action on February 26th and will then be gunning for a crown at 126 pounds.
Lacierva definitely sounds like a busy man these days and I was especially interested when I heard that he had recently spent time serving as a chief sparring partner for Fernando Montiel at the fighter's personal gym in Los Mochis. Speaking to me earlier this week, Lacierva confirmed that he had been putting in work with 'Cochulito' as the bantamweight champion gears up for his February 19th challenge of ambitious Nonito Donaire at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
"I was there," said Lacierva. "He's training hard, man. He's training and everything. We were sparring for six rounds. Also, there was another guy, a Japanese guy helping him. Kameda. Tomoki Kameda. I would help him with five rounds and he would help him with four and there was another guy from Tijuana, Alex Lopez."
Lacierva went on to tell me that he has known Montiel for several years, always considering him a friend, and that he was treated very well while in camp. The opportunity to work with Montiel for this particular camp actually came after Lacierva's recent victory over Hernandez. On the same card Jorge 'Travieso' Arce would stop Adolfo Ramos in one round. Arce happens to be working with Montiel's father Manuel these days and they asked Lacierva if he would be willing to come to camp.
I asked Lacierva how Montiel was looking and what his demeanor was like in camp.
"He's just focused," he continued. "Whenever he trains he's just doing his thing. He doesn't joke around, he just trains. He's focused on what he's doing. He's not like an outgoing guy. At the gym he's just working out and doing his job. He's just focused for this fight. His personality is just calm. He's a nice guy but he's not loud or anything."
Lacierva is definitely awkward in his attack, often switching from orthodox to southpaw, but his often-upright style doesn't seem to fully resemble someone like Donaire. The former contender conceded that while sparring Montiel he had to change up his stance to mirror the Fil-Am fighter as best he could and that the work between the two was very intense.
"He's tough fellow," Lacierva says of his countryman. "He throws a lot of combinations. The thing is, I have to spar moving back. I have to move around and switch because that's what Nonito does. I was doing that and he was just putting pressure on me. We were doing hard sparring."
Lacierva also noted that he is back at his home bases of Mexico City, having returned recently after his two-week stint in camp with the champion.
"I left left a week ago because I was getting too heavy for him. Yeah, I was too big for him."
I asked Lacierva what specifically he meant by that comment and he seemed to point out that Montiel and his people were instead looking to work with someone who brings speed and athleticism to the table, as Lacierva is a naturally bigger man.
It's also worth pointing out that Lacierva is no stranger to Donaire either, as the two men got to know each other years back when they were both fighting under Gary Shaw's promotional banner. The two men often would share the spotlight with one another fighting on the same events and he has nothing but praise for Donaire's incredible skills.
Knowing each man from a unique perspective over time, there couldn't seem to be a better man to ask for a prediction on the Montiel-Donaire fight but Lacierva seems to be at a loss when assessing the contest.
"How do I expect the fight between them? I don't know. It's a tough fight for both of them. It could be either way. Nonito is a really, really good fighter. I think he's a tough guy. Montiel is a tough guy too. They both have skills. If I had to bet money...shit, I wouldn't even bet."