Puerto Rican Melissa Hernandez Tops Selina Barrios in Louisiana
By David A. Avila
It was old school versus new school and veteran Melissa Hernandez showed a representative of the new wave of fighters Selina Barrios that some lessons still need to be learned.
Thirty-nine year old Hernandez (23-7-3, 7 KOs) scrapped off three years of inactivity and looked fresh as a daisy in handing Barrios (5-1, 2 KOs) the first professional defeat of her career on Saturday at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana.
When the fight was first announced it came as a surprise to many because Hernandez had retired due to an inability to obtain fights. And with many of the young amateur stars taking the spotlight she opted to retire.
But recently the former multi-divisional world champion Hernandez saw that opportunities were opening up and when San Antonio’s Barrios was unable to find an opponent the two agreed to meet.
“Nobody else was willing to fight me,” said Barrios.
As soon as the fight was announced those who follow female boxing knew about Hernandez’s experience and talent. She was the last fighter to defeat Layla McCarter in the boxing ring exactly 12 years ago today. Many, including this publication, recognize McCarter as the best female fighter pound for pound. She has not lost since that fight with Hernandez in April 27, 2007.
But 12 years and three years of inactivity can add a lot of rust. Though many remembered Hernandez’s talent, the question remained how much did the Puerto Rican fighter known as “the Hurricane Shark” still have left in the gas tank?
It turns out she had plenty.
After a rather medium paced opening round that saw Barrios move in behind an aggressive jab and some combinations, Hernandez countered with a strong left hook to punctuate the end of the first round.
Both fighters increased the tempo in the second round with Hernandez landing with counter left hooks and slipping the jabs coming from Barrios. Both fighters exchanged blows with Hernandez landing more than she received. It was a precursor of what was going to come next.
Barrios charged hard in the third round behind strong multiple jabs. As Hernandez held the jab hand of her opponent, Barrios battered the Puerto Rican with four short rights. After breaking free Hernandez shot a left uppercut-right cross to Barrios head and then both exchanged violent blows with each other. The Texas fighter might have had the edge in the round. But it was very close.
After a close round Barrios opened up with a right cross then Hernandez launched her own overhand rights. One after another overhand rights connected solidly for the Puerto Rican veteran. Barrios couldn’t seem to see the coming.
Hernandez used her movement to keep the angles in her favor and when Barrios got close Hernandez would catch the Texan with strong counter shots. From the sixth round on Hernandez took charge and blood began to pour down Barrios face. Every so often Hernandez would exchange with the younger fighter but always seemed to evade the big blows while landing her own. Experience was a major factor.
After eight rounds one judge scored it 80-72 and the other two 79-73 for Hernandez who heard the score cards while on her knees. Both fighters hugged after the call and Hernandez seemed to thank Barrios for accepting her challenge.
“It feels like I needed the layoff,” said Hernandez after the fight. “But the shark is back.”
Score one for the old school boxers.