“I’d love to fight Seth Mitchell, Chris Arreola or Bryant Jennings, but they don’t want any part of me. Those guys will never step up to the plate.” Fres Oquendo
Chicago-based heavyweight veteran Fast Fres Oquendo (33-7, 21 KOs) will take on Coon Rapids, Minnesota, southpaw Joey “Minnesota Ice” Abell (28-5, 27 KOs) for the WBA Fedelatin Heavyweight Championship in the 10-round main event of Hitz Boxing’s “Fight Night at the Horseshoe” event at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, this Friday, May 25.
The 39-year-old two-time heavyweight title challenger and former NABF, NABA and USBA champion says his comeback is all about leaving boxing on a high note after suffering so many disappointing and highly controversial setbacks. In two of his last three fights, Oquendo lost decisions of the very debatable sort to former champion Oliver McCall and Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck, who went on to face Wladimir Klitschko in a big-money match-up Oquendo says he dreams of.
“That’s the politics of boxing,” said Oquendo during a break in training. “If I don’t get the knockout, I can’t win. Every time they rob me, it’s a black eye to boxing and it takes away my earnings.”
Of all his questionable losses, the two that bother Oquendo most are his December 2008 split decision to James Toney and the horrific unanimous decision then-IBF champion Chris Byrd was given over him in 2003. “James Toney, that fight bothers me a lot. I out-hustled him out-punched him and they robbed me. That fight and the Chris Byrd fiasco. Those two are neck and neck. What Don King did to me was an injustice for boxing period. Not just me, all of boxing. That’s why I love fighting in my backyard. That’s where all my people come out for me. I thank Bobby Hitz for putting me on this show against a decent opponent.”
Oquendo says he’s quite familiar with Abell. “I know him pretty well. He’s a pretty strong puncher. I sparred with him before and he presents a challenge, but I’m very experienced and have the will to win. Being a hard puncher is not going to be enough to beat the great Fres. I live a good life and I still feel like I’m in my early 20s. I’m very strong and fast and I’m coming there to put on a spectacular performance. He’ll be trying to come in with nothing to lose, but I love chopping down the bigger guys. I’m smarter and faster. That’s the difference.”
Oquendo says his post-boxing life will be all about helping area youth stay off the streets. “This is my last hurrah. I’m taking one more try to get that elusive championship I deserve and then I’ll call it a day after that and transition to my new passion: giving back to the youth. I’m starting the not-for-profit Fres Oquendo Boxing Academy in the Humble Park Field House on Chicago’s West Side. 26th Ward Alderman, Roberto Maldonado, is partnering with me and supporting this great cause of mine. I’m going to use boxing to teach young people to say no to gangs and drugs.”