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Boxer Fernando Montiel recounts his brush with El Chapo’s capture

Fernando Montiel

Fernando Montiel, left, trades punches with Lee Selby during a fight last year.

(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)

Fernando Montiel was sound asleep in his home in Mexico when the manhunt for Joaquin Guzman Loera -- “El Chapo” -- exploded in gunfire on his block.

“I was very scared. I was very fearful for my family, I thought something might happen to us,” Montiel said, knowing his wife and three children -- ages 8, 5 and five months -- were inside the home too.

Montiel, 37, is a former three-division world-champion boxer who’ll meet Jorge Lara (27-0-2) Saturday in a Fox-televised featherweight bout at StubHub Center in Carson that precedes the Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto welterweight main event.

He said as the El Chapo raid raged, he rose from his bed at 4:30 a.m. Mexican Marine officers “banged on my door and told me someone might be in my house.”

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A search quickly led to the capture of a man who had apparently broken into Montiel’s home to hide during the Jan. 8 pursuit in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, that netted the powerful drug kingpin.

“I didn’t even know [the man] was in my home,” Montiel said. “The Marines came in and they told me who he was – part of El Chapo’s entourage.”

Montiel was stunned.

“We knew who El Chapo was and what he does, but I never thought somebody so dangerous was so close to my house, so near to my home,” he said.

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Reports were that the Mexican Marines followed clues toward the home in Montiel’s neighborhood – a home Montiel said had been vacant for years – and a large food order of tacos to the address encouraged the military to pounce.

The surge resulted in some deaths. Montiel said he glanced a few houses down and saw three bodies.

“I never heard of anything like that, of drugs or anything like that being in the neighborhood. That’s just where he was holing up. That house had been abandoned,” Montiel said. “I don’t feel any danger living there. It’s one of those things. I’m very happy where I am.”

Where he is now is carrying a 54-5-2 record with 39 knockouts to an important bout that could net him the winner of the World Boxing Assn. title fight in June between champion Jesus Cuellar and L.A.’s Abner Mares.

“Not only winning the fight, but how I win, is important,” Montiel said. “I trained for the knockout. All I’m thinking about is the fight and winning it.”

Turns out, a boxing ring can be a far safer place than one’s own bed.

“I’m really concentrating on this,” Montiel said. “I’ve put all that behind me.”

Tickets for Saturday’s card are available at axs.com, and StubHub Center’s box office.

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Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter: @LATimespugmire


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