BOXING / MIKE HISERMAN : Denied Gold, Hurtado Will Go for the Green

Mike Weaver is the biggest name, but the former heavyweight champion might not be the most-intriguing boxer on the June 21 fight card at the Warner Center Marriott.

Diobelis Hurtado, the 1994 world amateur champion at 132 pounds, is scheduled to make his sixth professional appearance--and his first outside of Miami.

Hurtado, 22, defected from the Cuban national team after a competition last October in Connecticut.

He made his professional debut two months later and has won all five of his bouts, three by knockout.

Hurtado appeared to be on a collision course with Oscar De La Hoya heading into the 1992 Olympics, but he was inexplicably left off the Cuban team in a move that was considered a political power play.

Dreams of winning a gold medal no longer exist, but defeating De La Hoya is a goal which still consumes Hurtado, according to his manager, Rene Gil.

"He studies every film he can get his hands on of De La Hoya," Gil said Wednesday by telephone from his Miami office. "The way he looks at it, he should have been fighting De La Hoya for the gold medal."

Hurtado is boxing professionally as a junior welterweight, one classification up from De La Hoya, the world lightweight champion. An opponent has not yet been secured for the Marriott card.

On the same show, Mario Iribarren, another Gil fighter from Cuba, will be boxing as a junior middleweight.

Iribarren, 25, a former Pan American Games champion, defected 1 1/2 years ago while the Cuban boxing team was visiting Denmark.

A veteran of more than 300 amateur bouts, Iribarren is 4-0 with three KOs as a professional, flashing punching power which has some experts comparing him to a young Marvin Hagler.

A possible opponent for Iribarren is Don Goodwin of Canoga Park, who has a record of 5-3 with four KOs.


Weaver showed up at a press conference Wednesday at the Marriott looking as fit and trim as he did 15 years ago when he won the World Boxing Assn. title by knocking out Frank Tate.

"I'm like [George] Foreman, very unusual," Weaver said. "Age just didn't do it to me."

Weaver, who turns 44 next Wednesday, weighs 225 pounds. He will be defending his National Boxing Assn. heavyweight championship against George O'Mara of Van Nuys.

At the head table, Weaver was seated next to former world heavyweight champion Gerrie Coetzee, whom he fought in two memorable battles more than a decade ago.

Coetzee is co-promoter of the fight card.

"The last time I saw him, I was on the floor looking up at him," Coetzee said.

In their first bout, Weaver defended his WBA title by stopping Coetzee in the 13th round of a bout in Sun City, South Africa. Their fight was later voted WBA Bout of the Year. Their rematch ended in a draw.

Coetzee later won the WBA title, holding it from late 1983 to the middle of '84.

Weaver's manager, Don Manuel, couldn't resist taking a playful swipe at Coetzee, stepping up to the microphone and issuing a challenge by saying, "I love Gerrie, but he's afraid to fight Mike Weaver. . . . "

Responded Coetzee: "You guys who are looking at Mike, do you blame me?"

Coetzee, 39, last fought in October, 1993. However, he might indeed fight again, but probably not against Weaver.

Don Chargin, who co-promotes bouts with Coetzee, said he has opened negotiations to match Coetzee against heavyweight contender Michael Moorer, probably in Sacramento.

Moorer, 36-1 with 30 KOs, lost only to George Foreman by knockout after holding a big advantage on points.

Coetzee, 32-5-1 with 20 KOs, says he matches up well to Moorer. "If I can land my right hand, he would be in trouble," he said.


O'Mara, from Van Nuys, has never fought near home as a pro.

Weaver, from Chino Hills, is a one-time Woodland Hills resident who boxed on a card at the Country Club in Reseda in 1989 with his brothers--fighting triplets.

O'Mara, who is known as a brawler, has a modest record of 15-15-3 with nine KOs, but in his last bout he defeated South American champion Walter Maseroni by unanimous decision in Argentina.

Defeating Weaver, O'Mara said, "would launch my career."

"Mike Weaver was a champion, that makes him special," he added. "I believe I am special, but I haven't proved it yet. This is my chance."

O'Mara, trained by Pat Goossen, said he will weigh in at around 205 pounds--much to the chagrin of Weaver's manager, Manuel.

"That's what I was afraid of," Manuel said, when O'Mara reported his weight. "He's in shape. I've seen O'Mara fight and most of the time he's not in shape. This time he is."


The best boxing show on television Saturday isn't the cable pay-per-view card featuring Tommy Morrison against Razor Rudduck and Roberto Duran against Roni Martinez.

It's the show from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on KCAL, starting at 8 p.m.

The WBO title junior welterweight bout between Hector Lopez of North Hollywood and champion Sammy Fuentes is rated even by most boxing experts.

Lopez, a 1984 Olympian from Mexico who grew up in Glendale, has a record of 28-3-1 with 15 knockouts. Fuentes, from Puerto Rico, is 30-13-1 with 26 KOs.

Whether he wins or loses the fight, Lopez is a champion in the eyes of many. For the past two years he has been heavily involved in negotiating a truce between rival San Fernando Valley gangs.

"His life is in order now," adviser Blinky Rodriguez said of Lopez, an ex-convict. "I think he is prepared to be champion."

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