ANAHEIM — Thursday's press conference wasn't so much about who's fighting tonight on the Pond's boxing card as it was about who isn't fighting.
Forum Boxing vice president John Jackson tried his best to sidestep the Genaro Hernandez issue, but the questions kept coming like pesky jabs to the face.
"I don't want this press conference to be about Genaro," Jackson said as he tried to explain why Hernandez was not headlining the event.
Hernandez, a junior lightweight, was introduced at the Pond's first press conference months ago when it was announced that Forum Boxing and the Pond would stage 18 shows in the next three years. But Hernandez, who is from Mission Viejo and coming back from a broken nose suffered in a fight with Oscar De La Hoya, decided $15,000 wasn't enough money. Instead, he took a fight in Tokyo for about $30,000.
Said Jackson: "He wanted to fight King Kong and we didn't think that was the right opponent. We ended up with what we think is a better card."
The card is headlined by junior welterweight Carlos Gonzalez and bantamweight Victor Rabanales--two former world champions looking for another title shot. Gonzalez, 23, of Mexico City won the World Boxing Organization title in June 1992 with a knockout of Jimmy Paul at the Forum. He lost it a year later on a 12-round decision to Azusa's Zack Padilla at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Gonzalez (43-2 with 38 knockouts) has won five consecutive fights but is not ranked among the top 25 junior welterweights by Boxing Illustrated.
"I'm trying to get the best ranking I can so they have to give me another title shot," Gonzalez said through an interpreter.
First, Gonzalez must beat Puerto Rico's Silverio Flores (17-3, 12 knockouts) tonight in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. Flores, 27, has not fought since losing a 10-round decision to South African Brian Mitchell 10 months ago.
"I don't know very much about him," Gonzalez said of Flores. "He doesn't worry me at all. I'm prepared to win."
In the other 10-rounder, Rabanales (41-14-2) faces fellow Mexico City native Alejandro Sanabria (27-11-1, 17 knockouts). Rabanales won the World Boxing Assn. bantamweight title on a ninth-round technical knockout of Yong-Hoon Lee in March 1992. He lost the title a year later on a 12-round decision to Jung-Il Byun.
Sanabria, 31, is on the downside of his career. He hasn't fought since July, 1995, when he lost a 12-round decision to Aristead Clayton. Sanabria has lost to world champions Marco Antonio Barrera and Junior Jones.
"He had too many tough fights in the beginning of his career," Rabanales said. "That's why he never made it big. But he's still very good and aggressive."
The next boxing card at the Pond is scheduled for April 29.