Angel Hernandez, the new strength and conditioning coach of RING and WBO/WBA lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez, is widely known to have a past history of being involved in performance enhancing activities, according to reports.
Marquez (53-5-1, 39 knockouts) hired Hernandez in preparation for his third bout with Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Marquez will challenge for the WBO welterweight belt owned by eight-division titleholder Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) in the HBO Pay Per View-televised clash.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said he only recently became aware of Hernandez’s past and was not involved in Marquez’s hiring him but declined further comment. Neither Marquez nor any of his camp members could be reached on Tuesday.
Marquez was to hold a national conference call with the media on Tuesday, but it was pushed back to Wednesday due to “a crush of media” during his workouts in Mexico City, according to Top Rank Inc. publicist Lee Samuels.
Identified as Angel Hernandez during Episode 2 of HBO’s 24/7 series, Hernandez, who is 36, who apparently went by his real name, Angel Heredia in May of 2008. That’s when he testified in a San Francisco Court that he supplied former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with illegal substances, according to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Heredia admitted to giving the blood-booster EPO, growth hormone and insulin to Jones in 2000 at the request of her then-coach Trevor Graham, who was on trial. Heredia also sold banned substances to Montgomery.
Having competed for Jamaica at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Graham sparked the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) in 2003.
Controversial BALCO founder Victor Conte tweeted his knowledge of Hernandez’s past on Monday. Conte apparently has gained in popularity and credibility in the sport of boxing since becoming aligned with WBO/WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire, and, more recently, Andre Berto, who credited Conte with helping him to overcome problems associated with over-training and anemia prior toward dethroning Jan Zaveck as IBF welterweight titleholder by fifth-round knockout on Sept. 3.
Marquez, meanwhile, has won three straight fights, including the last two by knockouts, since debuting in his lone welterweight bout — a one-sided unanimous decision loss to present Floyd Mayweather Jr. in September of 2009.
Marquez and his trainer, Nacho Beristain, blamed rapid weight-gain for slowing down the fighter during his performance against Mayweather.
“I think that as a fighter you must change. I’ve always fought as a lightweight,” said Marquez on 24/7. “I have to gain weight, and somehow, I have to get up there and still keep my speed and power.”
Marquez, who was floored once by Mayweather, has also expensed with throwing boulders in the mountains, which he did during his preparation for Mayweather.
“That training was different. He was carrying rocks, and it changed his natural flexibility. He became a little more slow, as if he had lost his explosiveness,” said Beristain on 24/7. “All of this, combined with Mayweather’s natural ability and his weight advantage, and we didn’t stand a chance.”
For Pacquiao, Marquez and Beristain wanted to try something new, which also meant abandoning Marquez’s longtime habit of ingesting his own urine as a means of gaining strength.
“Yeah, they saved my life. No, I think that I felt fine. On the advice of my doctor, and my physical trainer, Angel, They told us that we should stop,” said Marquez on the series.
“We’re looking for what can help me, and if the doctor says that no longer drinking it will help, then we’ll stop.”
Enter Hernandez, a graduate of Texas A&M’s exercise science program who believes that his state of the art techniques are better suited for helping Marquez to gain weight.
“A lot of the drills focus on speed and strength in his arms and shoulders,” said Hernandez. “So his reactions will be more about muscle balance.”
Marquez said that he likes the changes.
“It’s something that I’ve never done in my career. I really feel confident,” said Marquez on HBO. “I think that when the time comes, it will serve me well.”
Pacquiao has battled to a draw and a split-decision victory over Marquez, as a featherweight and as a junior lightweight in May of 2004 and March of 2008, respectively.
Pacquiao won a title in a record eighth weight class when his unanimous decision victory over Antonio Margarito earned him the WBC’s since-vacated junior middleweight belt in November.
The win over Margarito ran Pacquiao’s undefeated streak to 14-0 with eight knockouts since losing to four-division beltwinner and current WBC junior welterweight titleholder Erik Morales (51-7, 35 KOs), of Tijuana, in March of 2005.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com