Forgotten Fades – Carlos Hernandez vs Vicente Escobedo

The last hurrah of many professional fighters more often than not are lowlights of their career. brutal losses or pyrrhic moments with maybe some wins here and there. It does not matter if you are an All Time Great, Champion, Contender, Journeyman, etc. When it hits, it hits hard, and the results are usually sad to watch. This fight that I picked for this newest “Forgotten Fade” article is absolutely a last hurrah for one fighter: Carlos Hernandez.

“El Famoso” is a criminally underrated fighter who has shared the ring with a respectable number of notable fighters. Genaro Hernandez, Gregorio Vargas, Floyd Mayweather, Justin Juuko, Steve Forbes, Erik Morales, Jesus Chavez, Kevin Kelley. He became IBF Super Featherweight Champion in 2003 winning the title (vacated by Steve Forbes) a technical decision over David Santos. He would make two successful title defenses before surrendering it to Erik Morales. He is also the first and only fighter to score a counted knockdown against the aforementioned “Pretty Boy.”  However, starting with the title loss to Erik Morales in a war, Hernandez started to decline as a fighter going 3-3 in fairly hard fights before signing to face Vicente Escobedo. Escobedo back then was a promising prospect straight out of the Olympics for the lightweight division. Sporting and working his way to an impressive record of 19-1, it seemed like this was a fight set up to put a notable name and aging fighter on his record as he campaigned towards a title shot. This fight would take place on the undercard for Edwin Valero vs Antonio Pitalua PPV.

               The crowd gave both men a great ovation as they came to the ring. In the first round, Hernandez came out swinging and putting a lot of pressure on Escobedo. Enough for Bernard Hopkins, who was on commentary, to believe that this fight would not go the distance. Near the end, Escobedo manages to knock down the tough Hernandez with a fast 1-2. Hernandez got up and then went back down as he was going back to this corner. Escobedo in round two manages to score what the commentary was calling a flash knockdown. However, the way Hernandez went down, it was more than that. Hernandez looked incredibly shaky during the rest of the round. Round three, Escobedo hit Hernandez with an accidental elbow and cut him. All that seemed to do was wake up Hernandez. He went right back to Escobedo with both hands, guns blazing, much to the delight of the crowd. A highlight was a wicked left hook by Hernandez when Escobedo was on the ropes. In the middle rounds, Hernandez was giving plenty of problems to the younger Escobedo. Lacing him with hard right hands and left hooks. The old fighter looked like he found a little bit of his prime keeping Escobedo on his backfoot. Was not like Escobedo was not doing any damage to Hernandez. He managed to bloody Hernandez’s nose in between the violent exchanges of the two men.

Round six, Hernandez manages to score a knockdown on Escobedo on a hard right hand. A right hand that Escobedo fell hard into the middle rope before sitting on the canvas. Escobedo would argue that Hernandez stepped on his foot, but the ref still called it a knockdown. The crowd again genuinely appreciated the action they were getting in the ring. Escobedo looked like he would not be able to survive this test from Hernandez. In Round 7, Hernandez was landing body shots with Escobedo landing 1-2’s and 1-2-3’s in return. An uppercut by Hernandez briefly hurt Escobedo. The punishment showed on both men’s faces. It was an incredible effort. Hernandez unfortunately would hit the wall in the latter two rounds. Escobedo took advantage of this. Escobedo was laying a beating on Hernandez. Eyes nearly swollen shut so was not picking up the big combinations that Escobedo was throwing and landing. The ref was looking very intently at all of this. The Leijas,in Hernandez corner, were working furiously to keep him in the fight. In the tenth and final round, both men summoned up everything they had and slugged it out for the last 3 minutes. When the final bell rang, the crowd roared with adulation. “El Famoso” had his last stand. He would lose a unanimous decision with the scores of 96-91, 94-93 and 95-91 to Escobedo. What an incredible effort and fight that was.

True to his word, Carlos Hernandez would retire after a long and distinguished career. An interview done with San Antonio Express News , “El Famoso” became a boxing promoter and started a company called Famosoo Productions where he would hold shows in San Antonio and later on in LA.  He also helped give young fighters their first break, most famously Adam Lopez. Still giving back to the sport that gave him so much. Vicente Escobedo would follow up his grueling win over Hernandez with a 2-round knockout of a faded Kevin Kelley. This would set up for his first world title opportunity against Michael Katsidis for an interim lightweight title on the undercard for Mayweather vs JMM. In an extremely punishing war, Escobedo would drop a close split decision which saw him break Katsidis jaw in the final round. Two fights later, he would drop another fight to Robert Guerrero. Afterwards he would drop weight to compete in the super featherweight division. Escobedo would score one more marquee win by decisioning top contender Rocky Juarez. This impressive win would set up a final title shot, facing then WBO Super Featherweight Champion Adrien Broner. Unfortunately, this fight would be mired in controversy as champion Broner was overweight by 3.5 lbs. Broner would also blow the morning weigh-in day of the fight by another 3 lbs. Further negotiations had to be done in order to keep the fight. His fight purse was significantly boosted by the penalties, Escobedo was no match for Broner who was much bigger. Escobedo would be taken out in five one sided rounds for the first KO loss of his career. Subsequent knockout losses to Edner Cherry and hard punching journeyman Fernando Carcamo would spell the end of his career. In retirement, he became a coach at a gym in Downtown Pasadena. As I like to say, it is great when fighters have a healthy and productive retirement. Even though both men were not household names, they still deserve mention for their careers on top of the incredible fight they put on. Full recommendation to go and watch.