Among fans of all sports, I believe it behooves fight fans in particular to do their homework on a boxer, get into his backstory a bit, before weighing in on his talent or character.
Too often, I'm quick to judge this guy for coming in out of shape or that guy for not trying hard to rise off the canvas after being knocked down. A goodly percentage of the time, those fighters I've dissed or dismissed, or just critiqued a bit too hard from the comfort and safety of my sofa, have been working two or three jobs and sneaking in gym time when they can, while keeping hope alive that one day they'll topple that golden boy, get that title shot and win it, and live happily ever after.
Saturday night, when 99 percent of fight fans will be fixated on the goings-on in Las Vegas, Rudy Cisneros, a 30-year-old Chicago boxer, will try to topple his own golden boy foe, Demetrius Andrade, 24, at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The fighters will headline a Saturday edition of "Friday Night Fights," which was put together at the last minute after promoter Golden Boy promised ESPN a headline bout featuring Daniel Ponce De Leon, and then pulled it, because it finalized a deal with Fox Sports Media Group.
Cisneros is a heavy underdog, to be sure. And if the long and lean Andrade (16-0, 11 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian living in Rhode Island, does what many expect and stops Cisneros (12-3-1 NC, 11 KOs) inside 10 rounds of their junior middleweight bout, all of us should note for the record that Cisneros works two jobs or more at a time to keep his wife, three kids and himself afloat financially. He works delivering groceries for Peapod, and construction jobs when he finds them, and has also worked as a baggage handler at O'Hare Airport, his trainer George Hernandez tells us.
"Hey, it's the business of boxing," said Hernandez, who maintains that Cisneros no doubt has the pop to drop and stop Andrade if he catches him. "It's why everyone has to be ready all the time. We got word for this fight, like, three weeks ago. Andrade's people are looking for wins, trying to catch people sleeping. But it's up to Rudy to change the cards he's been dealt."
In other words, no, it's not ideal to begin training at 7 p.m. when you were up for work at 4 a.m., but it is what it is.
"It's what he wants to do," Hernandez said of Cisneros. "This is boxing, not the NFL. Only a select few have people excited about them. Others out there, nobody is interested in them. They are opponents."
Cisneros was on Season 2 of "The Contender," but he washed out early and was stuck in a Contender contract, Hernandez said, for too long. Cisneros has described himself as a "stalker" type in the ring, but we shall see how long that style lasts against the 6-foot-1 lefty Andrade, who has to know that Cisneros hasn't fought in a year and was stopped in Round 7 in his most recent outing, against Jonathan Gonzalez.
"Rudy has a dream to knock Demetrius out, get another payday," Hernadez said. "The Cotto-Mayweather fight might not be as exciting as Rudy's fight, or a fight involving a kid making $800. This is why this game of boxing is so unfair. But everyone has that hope and that dream, like the person who wants to win the $200 million Lotto. Everyone has the right to dream."
It appears on paper, Hernandez admits, that Andrade will pad his record, but the trainer ticks off a bunch of upsets in the past decade that remind us that paper is just paper. The ring is the thing.
"Demetrius hasn't tasted defeat," Hernandez said. "If he keeps boxing, he will taste defeat. One punch can change things. He'll taste defeat against Cisneros if he gets caught. But if I tell you we're gonna destroy this crafty lefty, I'd be lying. We know this is the toughest fight of Rudy's career. But we wouldn't be on our way to Connecticut if we didn't think this kid couldn't do it."