Former two-time super featherweight titlist Genaro "Chicanito" Hernandez passed away today. He was 45 years old.
Mr. Hernandez had battled a rare form of cancer after his 1998 retirement from the ring. The head and neck cancer was reported to be in remission back in 2009, but in 2010 it returned. Last month, he stopped receiving chemotherapy treatments.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times did a feature on Genaro:
"I feel like an old man that somebody needs to take care of," says Hernandez, who will turn 45 in May. "For awhile, I lost 50 pounds. I limp. I've got tumors on both shoulders, one on each thigh, one on my neck and three on my back. I haven't been able to produce any saliva for the last two years.
"I'm hanging in there."
He battled the cancer as valiantly as he fought in the ring over a career that, as the Times noted, was often overshadowed by East Los Angeles rival Oscar de la Hoya.
Hernandez turned pro in 1984 at the age of 18, and by 1988 was becoming a staple at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, former home of the Los Angeles Lakers and home to many fighters who would go on to become stars. In 1991, he picked up his first title, beating Daniel Londas for the WBA belt at 130 pounds, which he would successfully defend eight times. After beating Jorge Paez in March 1995 in a non-title bout, Hernandez moved up to lightweight to challenge Oscar de la Hoya himself for the WBO title. Oscar got him out in six rounds.
In 1997, he was back in the big main events, and back at super featherweight. He faced Azumah Nelson for the WBC title in March of that year. After the bell to end the seventh round, Hernandez was knocked out by a late punch from Nelson, but refused to take a disqualification win. Instead, he fought on after recuperating, and defeated Nelson by split decision.
Hernandez would defend that title three times, and then he signed to face young Floyd Mayweather Jr on October 3, 1998. Mayweather dominated the fight and beat Hernandez in eight rounds. It turned out to be the last fight of Genaro's career -- shortly after, while preparing a return, he was diagnosed with a blood clot and torn cartilage muscle. He decided to retire at the age of 32, and he never came back to the sport. His career ended with a record of 38 wins, 2 losses, 1 draw, and 17 wins by knockout.
Bad Left Hook sends our deepest condolences and best wishes to the family and loved ones of Genaro "Chicanito" Hernandez.