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Melisaa Hernandez
© Copyrighted photo courtesy of Bestfemboxers.com

 
   

5'3" Melissa "Huracan" Hernandez from Puerto Rico by way of the Bronx, NY and Miami, Florida was born on February 4 1980. She took up boxing to lose weight when she tipped the scales at 160 lbs. She was invited to a gym by her best friend's brother, a two-time Golden Gloves champion. Melissa trained at the gym for a while but dropped out. However, two months later she walked into a Webster PAL gym where she decided to take another shot at boxing training.

By the time the 2003 New York Golden Gloves came around, Melissa had reduced her weight to 145 lbs and she signed up to fight at 138 lbs. In her first fight she faced Golden Glove champion Jill Emery of Gleason's Gym and lost (although some thought she was robbed).

She then met former world champion Ada Velez, who told Melissa that she liked her style and energy and invited Belinda "Brown Sugar" Laracuente to see her fight at the 2003 Women's U.S. Championships in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Melissa stopped Krista Savage of Eau Claire, Wis., RSC-2. in the 138-lb quarter-final on July 9.  On July 11th in the 138-lb sem-ifinal Nasheba Thomas of Toledo, Ohio won when Melissa was disqualified in the third round (Thomas lost to Melissa's nemesis Jill Emery in the final by a 17-2 margin). Despite Melissa's semifinal loss, Velez and Laracuente moved her to Florida to train with them anyway.

"I lived with them for a while and learned how to box and not just fight", says Melissa.  "It seemed that a little of the Brown Sugar rubbed off on me and I began to have a little of her style in me. I stayed with Belinda as my head trainer for almost a year, fighting any fights I could get. By the time the 2004 Golden Gloves rolled around I had changed my style to a mix between boxer brawler. My trainer Pablo knew I had a better shot and I had dropped my weight down to 130 lbs. With hard training and dedication I went on to win the 2004 Golden Gloves"

At the 2004 National PAL Boxing Championships in Virginia Beach, VA,  Melissa won the 132-lb division by an RSC over Raynette Thomas of Sumter, SC.. Hernandez flew out of the corner throwing from the opening bell and quickly piled up the necessary points to cause the stoppage.

She also won the 2005 Golden Gloves, as she puts it on her web site "beating tough opponents like Dominga Regla (Olivo) from Sunset Park P.A.L. who I beat even worse four months after the gloves when she decided she wanted to have a rematch with me."  She then went on to win the 2005 Florida PAL Championship over Lena Taylor.

Melissa made her pro boxing debut at the Hilton in New Yotk City on October 26 2005, notching a four-round majority (40-36,49-36,38-38) decision over previously unbeaten Mao Mao Zhang of China, also a former amateur champion. Hernandez dictated the pace of the fight with her jab. She executed her game plan well by using excellent footwork, head and body movement, as well as feinting, but she did manage to walk into the line of fire a few times and was hit with a couple of solid left hooks as she tried to get inside. Overall, her boxing skills were too much for Zhang, whose  pro record fell to 1-1 with the loss.  "I went out intending to punch with her and got caught with a terrific shot and I turned into a boxer real fast. I look at the tape of that bout and I barely recognize myself, but sticking and moving was what I had to do to win a close fight against a good fighter." says Hernandez.

On January 21, 2006 at the White Rock Boxing Gym in Columbia, South Carolina, Melissa stopped Jennifer Johnson of Camden, South Carolina at 0:17 in the first round, dropping Johnson to 0-2.


Melissa (right) versus Merced Nunez in January 2006
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mike Blair

On April 29, 2006 at the Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale, Washington, Melissa (128 lbs) scored a four round unanimous (40-36) decision over 19-year-old pro debuter Merced Nunez (128 lbs) of Philomoth, Oregon. According to WBAN correspondent Mike Blair, the four round super featherweight bout was easily one of the favorites of the night. The difference was experience. Hernandez, though she only has two professional fights, had sixteen amateur bouts. Nunez had only two amateur bouts. Nonetheless, the fight was action packed. Though Nunez stood taller, she had some trouble making contact with the elusive Hernandez. Hernandez was clever enough to move in close, throw a jab or a shot to the body, then retreat just out of range. Nunez possesses some good skills, and once she learns to throw her jab straight instead of looping it, she will be dangerous. She is certainly a tough young fighter. She showed no signs of tiring at the end of the four round fight, but it looked like Hernandez had the stamina to go another four quite easily. (For more photos of this fight by Mike Blair, see WBAN Photo Gallery #358 on the WBAN Records Member Site)

On June 15, 2006 at the Seven Feathers Hotel and Casino in Canyonville, Oregon, Melissa (124½ lbs) faced veteran Kelsey Jeffries (122 lbs) over 10 rounds for the IFBA Featherweight title, fighting her to a split draw (95-93 Jeffries, 96-94 Hernandez, 95-95).  Jeffries won the first two rounds but Hernandez picked up her pace and began to land a hard right that would be effective throughout the fight.  Jeffries appeared to struggle against the speed of Hernandez in the middle rounds, but she turned the fight back her way with busy combinations in the seventh.  The eighth was more evenly fought but Hernandez went to the canvas in the final moments from what appeared to be a slip but was scored as a knockdown for Jeffries. Hernandez picked up her pace again to land well in the ninth, a round that ended with a fierce exchange as both went all out.  The tenth looked even until Hernandez caught Jeffries with a left hook that put the champion on the canvas.  The fight ended with another all-our slugfest by both. Jeffries was now 33-9-1 (2 KO's) while Hernandez was just 3-0-1 (1 KO) as a pro!

“I know I’m fighting a legend,” Hernandez said before the fight with Jeffries. “Kelsey is highly respected and I’m expecting a very tough fight. As an amateur I beat a lot of more experienced fighters. There are not a lot of opportunities for women in boxing, so I had no choice but to accept the fight. I’ve psyched myself up to win. It will be tough, but I think the fight is very winnable if I do everything right and don’t make any mistakes.”

"The only word I can use to describe that fight was SURREAL", she said after the match. 

On June 30, 2006 at Club Europe in Atlanta, Georgia, Melissa (134 lbs) won a six-round unanimous (60-54,60-54,60-54) decision over Leora Jackson (135 lbs) of Springdale, Arkansas who fell to 2-8-0.


Melissa vs. Stacey Rogers
© Copyrighted photo taken by Alan Messick

On August 31, 2006 at Harvey's Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada, Melissa (130 lbs) TKO'd pro debuter Stacey Rogers (124½ lbs) of New London, Ohio at 0:42 in the third round of a scheduled four-rounder. Melissa wowed the crowd as she thoroughly dominated the debuting Rogers.  (For more photos of this fight by Alan Messick, see WBAN Photo Gallery #385 on the WBAN Records Member Site)


Lisa Brown battles Melissa in November 2006
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On November 4, 2006 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Melissa (119 lbs) won a ten-round unanimous (96-94,96-94,98-92) decision over Lisa Brown (121 lbs) of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada for the WIBA Junior Featherweight title.  Lisa fell to 12-3-3 (4 KOs) with the loss, while Hernandez improved to 6-0-1 (2 KO's).  

According to a report by Shawn Roth of FightNews Canada, "Both fighters looked fresh and willing to brawl as the fight opened but the youth of Hernandez quickly took over. Brown seemed unable to catch the much more agile Hernandez with any real significant punches in the early going. Hernandez used her elusiveness to duck out of Brown’s punches and counter with a nice right hand that she used effectively through the match. Brown caught Hernandez with a good left jab and right hook combo in the third, but Hernandez seemed able to absorb the shots well and keep on moving. Hernandez continued to frustrate Brown in the middle rounds, pinning the older fighter on the ropes and teeing off on her. When Brown was able to muster an attack, Hernandez was able to quickly move from trouble, but Brown did manage to catch the American with a left jab before she could maneuver away from Brown late in the seventh. The final rounds saw Brown come out looking sharper than the previous rounds as the two exchanged some hard blows while on the ropes. Brown connected a quality left jab on Hernandez in the ninth, but once again, the younger Hernandez responded with a hard right jab. In the end, Hernandez proved too quick and conditioned for Brown to handle."

“I didn’t know I was winning, I was just surviving with Lisa Brown,” Hernandez said following her win. ”I just feel crazy right now.”


Melissa battles Layla McCarter in Las Vegas
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On February 14, 2007 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Layla McCarter (132 lbs) of Las Vegas won by an eighth round TKO over Melissa (133½ lbs). The fight was scheduled for twelve three-minute rounds, with McCarter defending her GBU lightweight title.  Photographer Mary Ann Owen of BILV, said of the fight, Hernandez fought very well against the experienced McCarter. Hernandez displayed courage and heart, McCarter’s experienced prevailed.”  After the fight, McCarter said, Hernandez has a fighter’s heart. I respect her for stepping up, she will learn from this and will use the experience for improvement. It took a lot of guts to fight someone of my experience. We all pay our dues this way.  Her time will come and she will be a champion.” For more fight photos by Mary Ann Owen, see Photo Gallery #407 on the WBAN Records Member Site.  McCarter improved her record to 23-12-5 (5 KOs), while dropping Hernandez to 6-1-1 (2 KOs).

 


Layla McCarter vs Melissa Hernandez rematch, April 2007
© Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On April 27, 2007, Melissa (130 lbs) returned to the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for a rematch with Layla McCarter (133½ lbs) this time taking the GBU Lightweight title away from the home-town favorite by an eight-round majority decision. According to a WBAN report by Lori Steinhorst, "Melissa 'Huracan' Hernandez approached the ring with an air of confidence and a playful nature, dancing and smiling all they way. That playful nature was carried into every round and it was apparent early on that she was well prepared for this fight. Although Layla McCarter was able to catch Hernandez with some well placed right hands and jabs, they appeared to have no effect on Hernandez, who continued to press the action aggressively. This was a different Melissa Hernandez. Her timing was precise and her right hand accurate. Her legs were strong. She had a game plan and it was clear she was sticking to it. Hernandez won by a majority decision with one judge seeing the fight as a draw. This bout was eight rounds, at three minutes."

Hernandez explained her success in the rematch: "I understand now, the work is done in the gym, the ring is where I showcase what I have learned, where I show my skills, where I relax and have fun! I am so excited, it's hard to believe that I won, here in her hometown, on short notice. I had been training so I felt I was prepared. I have avenged my loss and I am happy."

Hernandez's win dropped McCarter to 23-13-5 (5 KOs).


Chevelle Hallback vs Melissa Hernandez in February 2008
 © Copyrighted photo taken by Lori Steinhorst

On February 7, 2008 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, Melissa took on veteran Chevelle Hallback of Plant City, Florida in a ten-round barn-burner for the vacant IFBA Lightweight title. According to WBAN correspondent Bill Ortega: "The first round began with Hallback connecting with a one-two combination that rocked Hernandez and had her looking dazed. Then Hallback seemed to retreat and that was all Hernandez needed to recover her senses. The fight was on. The Bronx fighter jumped on Hallback with her busy combination punching and when Hallback tried to retaliate, Hernandez would move out of range. Hallback, a very athletic fighter with quickness and power in each hand, returned in the third round with powerful shots that once again seemed to hurt the gritty New Yorker. But she backed off again. Back and forth each round seemed to go until the final two rounds. Then Hallback seemed to realize she needed to dominate the last two rounds and stepped up her punch output. Big blows rained off Hernandez’s head but she refused to buckle under the intense pressure. With only 10 seconds left, Hallback blasted a right hand off Hernandez’s jaw but she survived by firing back though trapped in the corner. The crowd roared wildly."

Dr. James Jen Kin favored Hallback by 97-94 and judge Vince Delgado scored the fight for Hernandez by 97-93 while Judge Gwen Adair saw it as a 95-95 draw, for an overall split draw decision.  Hallback moved to (26-5-2, 11 KOs) while Hernandez's record went to 7-1-2 (2 KOs). This was clearly the fight of the night on an star-studded all-female card that was later seen on Fox Sports Net TV. 

After the fight, Melissa said "Tonight I was at my best. The fight went well and according to plan. The judges' decision, though,
caught me off guard because I thought Chevelle was much more aggressive. It was her power against my slick game. I give
her credit, she’s a great fighter and I always want to battle a great fighter." 

On June 7, 2008 at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville,  Connecticut, Melissa (131 lbs) defeated Melissa Fiorentino (132 lbs) of Cranston, Rhode Island by a third round TKO in a scheduled eight rounder. The fight was non-stop with  Hernandez leading when Fiorentino received a cut and the fight was stopped. Melissa Fiorentino fell to 17-2 (6 KO's) while Hernandez improved to  8-1-2 (3 KOs).


Melissa Hernandez vs Ela Nunez in September 2008
 © Copyrighted photo taken by Mary Ann Owen

On September 5, 2008 at Buffalo Bill’s Star Arena in Primm, Nevada, (125 lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (97-93,97-93,97-93) decision over Ela "Bam Bam" Nunez (125 lbs) of Jamestown, New York for the vacant WIBA Super Featherweight title.  Photographer Mary Ann Owen who was at ringside for the event said, "Nunez made a great showing, she was very busy in every round. The fight was a real crowd pleaser, lots of action and very entertaining. Both fighters' boxing techniques were outstanding, they fought hard and furious every round. Nunez was there to fight and stood strong against Hernandez exchanging blows. Hernandez kept the pressure on Nunez all ten rounds, it was like the war of the wills."   For more fight photos by Mary Ann Owen, see Photo Gallery #490 on the WBAN Records Member Site. Nunez fell to 8-4 (2 KO's) with the loss while Hernandez improved to 9-1-2 (3 KO's).

On July 21, 2009 at Centro de Convenciones Atlapa in Panama City, Panama, Melissa (128 lbs) won by a fifth round TKO over undefeated Ambar Fajardo (129 lbs) of Caracas, Venezuela in a scheduled eight-rounder for the WBA intercontinental title.  According to Hernandez's team, "Ambar came out strong and focused but she was no match for Melissa.  Round after round the speed and slick style [Hernandez] had Ambar not knowing where to turn. At the sound of the sixth round bell,  Ambar didn't come out to fight giving Melissa the win by TKO."  Fajardo fell to 6-1.

On December 4, 2009 at the Isleta Casino near Albuquerque, New Mexico, Hernandez became the center of controversy when she walked out of the arena shortly before she was due to fight local favorite and multiple world champion Holly Holm in a catch-weight bout.  Hernandez spent much of the promotional lead-up to the bout lampooning Holm's defensive boxing style by saying she (Hernandez) would "hunt the rabbit", so it was a shocker when she refused to fight following a dispute over the witnessing of Holm's hand wrap.  The Isleta Boxing Commission initially threw a suspension at Hernandez for her refusal to fight but it later reviewed the circumstances leading up to the wrap dispute and withdrew the suspension.  (It is normal for an opponent's hand wrap to be witnessed by a boxer's own representative on request, but it was unclear how rules were being applied at Isleta.  The IBC is an independent commission which itself came under investigation by the Association of Boxing Commissions for its overall handling of this card.)      

On February 19, 2010 at the Tri-State Sport Complex in Aston, Pennsylvania, Melissa Hernandez won a six-round unanimous (60-54,59-55,59-55) decision in a rematch with Ela Nunez of Jamestown, New York. On the day before the fight Hernandez had weighed in at 126 lbs and Nunez at 134 lbs for a contest contracted for 128 lbs. Nunez was fined for being over the contract weight and the fight went on at the agreement of both. Hernandez improved her record to 12-1-2 (4 KO's) as Nunez fell to 9-6-1 (2 KO's).

On June 5, 2010 at the National Guard Armory in Evansville, Indiana, Lindsay Garbatt (131 lbs) of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, won an eight-round majority (76-76,78-74,78-74) decision over Melissa Hernandez (131 lbs). Garbatt improved her record to 5-3-1 (3 KO's). "I didn't overlook Lindsay," Hernandez told Bernie McCoy in a post-fight interview. "She (Garbatt) did her homework and came to the fight totally prepared. I thought I fought hard enough to get a decision or at least a draw, but I won't take anything away from her, she got the ' W.' It was a good fight and now it's time to get back to work, time to get back to my roots. First thing is a rematch with Garbatt and I've been calling my manager every day to get it done."

On August 14, 2010 at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, New Mexico, Melissa Hernandez (132 lbs) won an eight-round unanimous (79-73,80-72,80-72) decision over Victoria Cisneros (133 lbs) of Albuquerque, NM for the interim WIBA Lightweight title. Cisneros fell to 5-10-2 (1 KO) with the loss.

Garbatt vs Hernandez October 2010
Lindsay Garbatt vs Melissa Hernandez in October 2010
© Copyrighted photo by Lori Steinhorst

On October 16, 2010 at the Santa Ana Star Casino in Bernalillo, New Mexico, in the main event, Lindsay Garbatt and Melissa Hernandez fought to a 10-round majority draw in a rematch of their June 2010 bout, this time for the vacant GBU, WIBA, and WBAN Junior Lightweight belts. The judges' scores were 95-95, 95-95, and 98-92 for Hernandez. Geraldo Martinez reported for Fightnews.com that "Hernandez was the slicker boxer and animated; Garbatt, the more effective and reserved.  “Tah, tah, tah” was heard coming out of the always-animated Hernandez, every time she threw a punch at the Canadian who beat her earlier in the year. Many of her punches landed in the first couple (of) rounds. Unfortunately, Garbatt was also landing. Hernandez came out more aggressive in the third, going after her taller and stockier opponent. The fourth and fifth rounds were hard to score. Both women were exchanging leather and finding their mark. Garbatt took over with her aggression in the sixth and seventh rounds, connecting with shots while Hernandez threw wide. Hernandez turned it on in the last few seconds of each of those rounds to try and steal them, to no avail. After some pleading from her corner, Hernandez came out swinging in the eighth – but swinging too low, for she was warned by Referee Tony Rosales. Garbatt came back in the ninth and tenth, landing hard rights to the face. The two women exchanged in the center of the ring to end the fight. Turns out neither woman came out as a champion last night as the judges scored the fight a draw with scores of 95-95 twice and 98-92, Hernandez. That decision came after more than ten minutes of discussion between judges and everyone else inside the ring."   Hernandez moved her pro record to 14-2-3 (5 KO's) while Garbatt progressed to 5-3-1 (3 KO's).

On January 20, 2011 at the Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina Melissa Hernandez (125 lbs) TKO'd DJ Morrison (129 lbs) at 1:50 in the fourth round of a scheduled six-rounder.  Morrison fell to 2-8 (2 KO's) with the loss. 

On June 24, 2011 at the Shaw Conference Center in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Melissa (129¾ lbs) won an eight-round split (77-75,77-75,75-77) decision over Jelena Mrdjenovich (132¼ lbs) of Edmonton in a non-title bout. Mrdjenovich dropped her third straight, falling to  24-8-1 (12 KO's).

On September 24, 2011 at Grand Star Receptions in Altona North, Victoria, Australia, Melissa (132 lbs) TKO'd Christina Tai (134 lbs) of Auckland, New Zealand at 0:54 in the fourth round of a scheduled six-rounder.  Hernandez was much too fast and sharp for Tai, who fell to 4-11-0 (1 KO). 

On December 16, 2011 at the Arena Maipú Casino Resort in Maipú, Mendoza, Argentina, Erica Farias (132¼ lbs) of Buenos Aires, Argentina won a hard fought ten-round unanimous (96-94,97-93, 97-93) decision over Melissa (132½ lbs) defending the WBC Lightweight title. Farias initially had trouble finding the range to land clean shots on Hernandez, who moved well and landed many good shots of her own.  As the fight progressed Farias used her jab more effectively to set up accurate shots with her right but Hernandez kept it close and worked well at close quarters. Farias eventually had the better of the action which was entertaining outside the clinches and appeared to WBAN to be closer than the final scorecards. Farias improved to 12-0 (6 KO's) with the win. [Video]

On July 28, 2012 at Columbus Civic Center in Columbus, Georgia, USA, Melissa Hernandez (134½ lbs) won a 10-round unanimous (100-90, 98-92, and 98-92) decision over Nicole Woods (136¼ lbs) of Stone Mountain, Georgia. Woods fell to 11-10-2 (3 KO's) with the loss. 

On September 14, 2012  at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Melissa Hernandez won the WBC and WIBA Featherweight titles with a ten-round unanimous (98-92,98-92,97-93) decision over reigning champ Jelena Mrdjenovich of Edmonton. Hernandez used her lateral ring movement and a quick hard right hand to counter the recently demonstrated punching power of Mrdjenovich.  Following the WBC's rules, open scoring was used so it was clear to both boxers that Hernandez took a strong early lead which she would not relinquish. Hernandez improved her record to 18-3-3 (6 KO's) while Mrdjenovich slipped to 27-9-1 (13 KO's).

Melissa with Belinda Melissa told WBAN writer Bernie McCoy "When I was still in the amateurs and thinking of turning professional, I had a list of four fighters that I held in a great deal of respect and esteem. Kelsey Jeffries was second on that list. Belinda Laracuente was at the top ... Chevelle Hallback and Melissa Del Valle were the other two."   Asked to describe her style as "boxer," "puncher," or "brawler," Hernandez thinks for a moment and replies, "All three, probably, depending on what's needed in a particular fight."

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Page last updated: Saturday, September 15, 2012

 
     
     
     
     
 

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