The legend of Angel “El Toro” Hernandez is a long and storied one. In just his 14th professional bout Angel went the distance with World Ranked Contender Wilfredo Rivera. But it wasn’t until he stepped into the ring with JC Candelo for the NABF title that we began to understand just what type of a warrior we had on our hands. It was an incredibly taxing bout which sent both fighters to the hospital suffering from internal injuries. Legend has it that they ended up in the same Las Vegas Emergency Room with only curtains separating them. The mood in the ER was expectantly solemn, both fighters were looking at possible surgery to repair their injuries. The long night dragged on, then in the midst of the silence Candelo called out, “Aye Angel… You’re one tough motherfucker…” And Angel replied blindly through the curtain, “So are you J.C., so are you…” Angel won the NABF title that night.
Another post-fight legend goes that Angel had gritted out a close victory in a heated battle with a top contender and was rushed to the hospital once again after the bout. On this night his then sparring partner and now trainer “Fearless” Fernando Hernandez was with Angel. Angel had a head ache but not your average head ache, not even an extreme migraine. Angel said “It felt like there were a thousand needles stabbing me in the brain from every direction,” Fernando was there at his bedside holding his hand, praying, fighting back tears, fearing the worst. Finally a doctor walked in and gave Angel a shot of morphine, Angel looked up at the doctor and thanked him from the bottom of his heart then, promptly passed out.
There’s also the time Angel hit a guy with an upper cut during a sparring session at the Windy City Gym and tore the guy’s nose loose from his face. The guys nose was literally just dangling from the only place it remained attached at the bridge of the nose, blood gushing from the flapping nostrils and splattering down on the old blue canvas, (that’s why fighters use vaseline on their gloves and skin).
Another unforgettable moment was when Angel was at the Big Bear training camp in California, and Emanuel Stewart asked if Angel would do some sparring with one of his fighters and Angel agreed. That fighter happened to be 200lb MMA Champion Vitor Belfort. Upon realizing this Angel expressed his concern at giving up nearly 50lbs to Belfort. Stewart assured him that Belfort just wanted to move a little with a boxer. About half way through the first round of sparring Belfort began loading up on his punches, obviously attempt to knock Angel unconscious, unleashing wide, huge bombs on the smaller fighter. Angel took a deep breath and said to himself, “well, it’s either me or him,” bit down on his mouth guard, stepped in and caught Belfort with an uppercut to the body then ripped it up to the chin and Belfort went jelly legged and started to fall. Angel, (respecting that it was a sparring session,) lunged over caught Belfort before he collapsed to the canvas.
I could go on and on and on about Angel “El Toro” Hernandez and the sheer plot summary would probably never get boring. Angel is the exact opposite of a boring fighter. Angel is all action, all heart, he will take five punches to land his one and when he lands his, he’ll make it count.
Angel entered his main event fight this past Friday night at the UIC Pavilion against African Osumanu Adama coming of off his defeat at the hands of IBO World Champion Peter Manfredo by stoppage last May in Connecticut. Adama was coming off his thrilling bout with Donovan George last April, a bout that saw Adama fight bravely and apply a great deal of pressure to the heavy handed George though he lost the final decision, he may have won a moral victory.
Adama’s ring entrance was wild and brash, though I sensed a genuine joy in his bright beaming smile as he danced his way to the ring singing Bob Marley’s “I’m gonna be Iron, like a Lion in Zion…” as his Ghanaian flag waved proudly behind him.
Angel’s entrance was modest, his usual workman like approach, a grin on his lips, a nod to a friend.
Many were expecting an absolute toe to toe, blood bath and were startled to see Adama showing classic boxing skill, moving laterally and firing a rocket jab that cracked through Angel’s guard with regularity.
Angel got off to a slow start but began to pick up steam in the middle rounds though Adama showed no sign of wilting and turned up the heat as well landing crisp, cracking, combinations.
Each time Adama caught Angel with a strong blow, a small grin would creep over Angel’s face and though some will say that, that, is a sign that a fighter is really hurt and that may have been true, it’s also a sign of being insanely tough.
Angel’s response was to step straight to Adama and unleash a vicious barrage of body shots which ended with hooks to the head and instantly electrified the crowd.
This give and take continued through the middle rounds.
Adama showed no signs of fatigue well into the final rounds, he continued at his high pace, and just out-strided Angel to a unanimous decision victory and the IBO International Title.
Angel Hernandez has only lost to the very best, and if you haven’t heard of Osumanu Adama you soon will. There is talk of Adama getting a shot at Manfredo’s IBO World Title in January and I would not be surprised if Adama gave Manfredo all he could handle.
For Angel it was a tough night, he fought his heart out and gave the crowd what they’d come for as he does every time he enters the ring. Some are rushing to say that Angel is through, that he should hang ‘em up and I will beg to differ. Angel could go on many more years thrilling crowds with his action packed style, his courage and his heart. I just don’t know what he has left to prove in the boxing ring, and that’s something he’ll just have to come to on his own, in his own time and hopefully on his own terms.
Viva El Toro!