Fres Oquendo: "I'm the last of the Mohicans...I would really like that title shot" - Doghouse Boxing News

Fres Oquendo: Ready, Willing, and Able to Fight Klitschko
By Pavel Yakovlev, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 6, 2013) Photos © Joey Hill

Fres Oquendo in action
Fres Oquendo in action
Fres Oquendo in action
Fres Oquendo in Victory
Fres Oquendo is pondering his next move, and he hopes it will be a title shot. Recently news broke that WBA, WBO, and IBF champion Vladimir Klitschko will make an optional defense in April, and he needs a challenger. Speculation abounds regarding who will be Klitschko's opponent. Some people in boxing are arguing – quite persuasively, in fact – that Oquendo should be chosen.

Currently on a three fight winning streak, rated fifth worldwide by the WBA, and holder of that organization's Fedlatin belt, Oquendo is amply qualified to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. With 16 years experience and 42 professional bouts underneath his belt, Oquendo is one of the most ring savvy heavyweights active today. Unquestionably, he has the skills, too: he's earned a reputation as a slick, speedy, and elusive technician with a jackhammer right hand. At age 39, Oquendo shows only minimal deterioration physically and athletically. He can give Klitschko as tough a fight as almost anyone else.

But will Oquendo get a chance to fight Klitschko? Right now, that's an open question. His manager Tom Tsatas recently contacted the Klitschko camp about the possibility of making the match, but was politely declined by Bernd Boente. The reason, as explained to Tsatas, is that German television would not look favorably upon Oquendo's seven losses. That most of those defeats were by controversial decision matters little, apparently, to the television executives and marketing specialists who must sell the fight to the European public.

Oquendo, however, sees matters differently. “Klitschko's a great fighting champion, I have respect for him,” he said. “But of all the contenders out there, I'm the only one who has fought all the stand-outs of the last generation, like Tua, Byrd, Ruiz, Toney, and Holyfield. Most other heavyweights out there don't have that kind of experience. I'm the last of the Mohicans...I would really like that title shot.”

Tsatas concurs. “Fres deserves that title fight more than anyone else,” he said. “He has fought everyone, and has more rounds against top fighters than any other heavyweight. Most of his losses were controversial...bad decisions in fights that Fres really won. He is easily the most qualified fighter to meet Klitschko.”

Chicago promoter Bobby Hitz also argues that Oquendo should get the April slot. “Fres is an ideal choice for that fight. Think about it...he's not just a top contender; his status is practically that of a former champion. That's because Fres was an uncrowned champ, a guy who would have been champion if not for bad judging. I don't know why the Germans aren't interested in having Fres; that doesn't make any sense to me.”

Analysis of Klitschko's fighting style, and at least one of his past fights, suggests that – just possibly – he might have more trouble with Oquendo than most realize. Klitschko depends on his jab to control fights. Long, straight, and powerful, the champion's jab keeps foes at bay, and sets up his pulverizing power punches. On those rare occasions when Klitschko's jab has not consistently found its target, he has had trouble scoring with his right. Against Calvin Brock in 2006, for example, the challenger's tricky head movement and awkward tactics frustrated Klitschko's jab for the better part of five rounds. Of course, Klitschko won by devastating knockout in the seventh, but still, he looked uncharacteristically awkward prior to ending matters. Oquendo has studied that fight and believes he sees potential vulnerabilities in the champion.

Klitschko needs that left jab to set-up his right hand, and I can take that jab away from him,” observed Oquendo. “I would use movement and defense to make him miss all night. After that, I'll come at him with my right hand.” Indeed, Oquendo's unmarked face is evidence of his defensive acumen: it shows no scar tissue or any traces of punishment, even in spite of his nearly two decades in boxing. As for the effectiveness of his right hand, Oquendo's 23 career knockouts are proof that he can bang.

Meanwhile, Oquendo is training hard at Miami Beach's Fifth Street Gym, preparing for a possible Fedlatin title defense this month. In addition to focusing on conditioning, he is fine-tuning his combination punching, and working on his power. Interestingly, Oquendo is sparring often with 6'7”, 240 lbs. Edwin Alvarez, who physically resembles Klitschko. When asked if he picked Alvarez with Klitschko in mind, Oquendo replied, “Look at it this way...I intend to be ready if we get the phone call to fight Klitschko. I'm getting in the best shape of my life.”

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