Career Record, Fighter Profile & History of Fernando Montiel
Bantamweight Champion Fernando Montiel is a 5’4” Mexican boxer-puncher who has been on the world stage for almost a decade. As a champion in three separate weight classes, Montiel has established himself as one of the best lighter-weight fighters of his era.
Like many of his fellow Mexican professionals, Montiel got an early start in the pro ranks, making his debut at 16. Fighting in the flyweight division, Montiel initially fought well against fellow neophyte pros, eventually moving up to beat more challenging veteran fighters. After a win over future champion Cruz Carbajal, Montiel challenged Isidro Garcia for the WBO Flyweight Title in 2000.
Montiel showed some of what we would come to expect of him in the future. He frustrated Garcia with his hand speed, and then delivered more hurtful combinations once his opponent’s drive began to ebb. He stopped Garcia in the 7th round to claim his first world title bout at age 21. Three defenses followed—over former amateur star Zoltan Lunka, former titleholder Juan Domingo Cordoba, and future champion and current super bantamweight contender Jose Lopez.
Montiel’s foray into the waters of 115 lbs. resulted in tragedy. He battered WBO Super Flyweight Champion Pedro Alcazar for six rounds to win the belt. Alcazar had an unrealized brain injury and went into a coma and passed away 2 days later. Two more wins followed before he was matched with veteran ex-champion Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson in his first big fight.
Montiel was favored, as Johnson was coming off his two losses to Rafael Marquez and appeared to be coming to the end of his career. In Johnson’ last great night, he fought in a way resembling his peak and proved a bit too educated for the still-young Montiel. Johnson was a clear majority decision winner. It should have been unanimous, but Montiel turned it into a learning experience.
In 2004, Montiel rebounded with 3 straight wins, getting his feet back under him and rebuilding his confidence. In 2005, Montiel knocked out undefeated Johnson-conqueror Ivan Hernandez to claim the WBO Super Flyweight belt. It was vintage Montiel—fast, smart, gutsy, and hard-hitting. When dialed in, he lands punches with an unusual crispness and flushness.
Two defenses followed before Montiel decided to move up again.
The Jhonny Gonzalez Fight and the Rebuilding Process
In May of 2006, Montiel entered the ring as the favorite against bantamweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez. While competitive, Montiel was unable to dissuade the stronger and bigger Gonzalez. Montiel looked a lot smaller in the ring that night, and Gonzalez was really “on” that night in his finest performance. A split decision loss sent Montiel back to 115 lbs.
From 2007-2008, he continued defending his 115 lb. belt in style, rejecting the challenges of fighters such as Z Gorres, Luis Melendez, and excellent Martin Castillo. He looked to have regained his form. Next on the menu was unfinished business at bantamweight.
Montiel’s Run at Bantamweight and the Hasegawa Triumph
In 2009, Montiel beat Diego Silva for the interim WBO Bantamweight Title and consolidated his credentials by starching Ciso Morales in the first round.
In April of 2010, Montiel traveled to Japan to take on red-hot WBC Champion Hozumi Hasegawa. The Japanese champ was on a long unbeaten streak including a recent run of quickie knockout defenses, and was the betting favorite. Many had forgotten about Montiel. He was a bit invisible after a string of low-profile fights, but he reminded us of how special he is.
After losing the first 3 rounds, Montiel caught Hasegawa with a left hook forcing him into the ropes. Montiel quickly pounced and turned Hasegawa legs into jelly with a series of powerful shots. The end was as sudden as it was shocking, especially for the Japanese faithful. This was Montiel’s greatest win.
Montiel, 41-2-2 (31 KOs), is currently basking in the aftermath of the Hasegawa win. The depth of talent at bantamweight is vast, so he shouldn’t have any trouble finding worthy challengers to fight.