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Hernandez Returns With A Win
by Bernie McCoy
June 13, 2015

(JUNE 13)  Nine years, seven months and sixteen days. That's the length of time that had elapsed since Melissa Hernandez stepped through the ropes into a New York City ring. October 26, 2005 was also the date that Hernandez, following a successful, if tumultuous, amateur career turned professional with a four round decision over Zhang Mao Mao at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan. On Friday night at the Amazura Concert Hall in Jamaica, Queens, Hernandez pounded out a bruising ten round unanimous decision over a tough Loli Munoz, in the semi-windup on Elton Dharry Promotions' seven bout card (four amateur bouts, three professional), winning the Universal Boxing Federation's vacant World Junior Welterweight title.

Hernandez, 136, came out quickly with movement of both hands and feet, constantly shifting between southpaw and a conventional stance, both strategies seeming to confuse the taller Munoz, 136.5. The first four rounds were, to me, clearly Hernandez, who appeared in terrific shape, refusing to sit between rounds and keeping up a quick bell/bell pace over the two minute stanzas. In the fifth round Munoz seemed able to "cut" the ring more effectively on her quicker foe, something that Hernandez's speed had forestalled earlier. The remaining five rounds were near mirror copies of each other, with Munoz, now able to get closer to Hernandez, featuring exchanges, in close, by both fighters, each landing big punches with both hands to the head and body, Hernandez continuing to switch lead hands at will. To his credit, referee, Ed Claudio resisted the temptation to break the fighters, often at close range, as long as one or both were still punching. Each of the last five rounds, to me, were close, with the slightest of edges in punching accuracy going to Hernandez. The judges saw the bout decisively for Hernandez: Joe Cusano 99-91, and both Tony Lundy and John McKaie had it 98-92.

Here's a wish that it's not another decade before Melissa Hernandez returns to "the city" to fight. She has proclaimed that "I am womyns boxing" and she was announced, from the ring on Friday night, as "needing no introduction anywhere in the boxing world." Both statements probably fall somewhere between hyperbole and fact, edging closer to the latter than the former. She has been, for the nine plus years she has been a professional, a flash point in the sport, oft times a controversial flash point. But make no mistake about it, she can box! She has every ring move in the book and some that are only in limited editions. She is a showstopper every time out and the fact that she has not fought in the largest fight market in the US in nearly ten years speaks volumes about what is presently wrong with this sport. In New York, Kevin O'Sullivan's New Legend Boxing and Ronson Frank's Uprising Promotions have both provided continued support for female boxing in the city and Hernandez would be a natural fit on their cards. And as long as the wish list is out, Barclay Center might be ready for an upgrade in female boxing and why wouldn't Atlantic and Flatbush be a terrific landing spot for Melissa Hernandez? At the very least, let's assure that it's not nine years, seven months and sixteen days until we see her climb through New York City ring ropes again.

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