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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Ignominious Is Not Hernandez's Style

March 26, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Genaro Hernandez of East Los Angeles proved again Saturday night what most people in boxing already knew, that he is a genuinely noble fighter.

Noble. Now there's a word you haven't seen connected with the sport much in recent years.

In a World Boxing Council super-featherweight title fight at Corpus Christi, Texas, Hernandez was virtually incapacitated when hit by a punch to the throat by champion Azumah Nelson after the bell ending the seventh round.

Hernandez was informed the title would belong to him if he couldn't continue, that Nelson would be disqualified. No one would have discredited Hernandez if he'd wrapped the belt around his waist without sweating another drop.

Luis Santana won a couple of fights like that from Terry Norris, likewise Riddick Bowe from Andrew Golota. The night before the Hernandez-Nelson fight, Montell Griffin was awarded the WBC light-heavyweight title at Atlantic City when hit twice after the bell by Roy Jones Jr.

Hernandez didn't want to become the champion sitting in his corner. He took a seven-minute rest and then proceeded. Having won at least five of the first seven rounds, he won three or four of the next five and took the title by split decision.

He said later that he wouldn't accept the disqualification because he has too much respect for the 38-year-old Nelson. Hernandez even refused to accept the belt from Nelson until they were through the ropes.

"You wore it into the ring, you wear it out of the ring," Hernandez told him.

But there was another reason he chose to stay and fight. In his only loss in 37 fights, to Oscar De La Hoya in 1995, Hernandez quit at the end of the fifth round when he took a hard shot to his nose, which had been broken in training. This time, it was shattered.

Yet, Hernandez came home to jeers from some in his neighborhood that he quit. There was no way he was going to quit Saturday night, even when he was ahead.

*

In Tom Clancy's latest paperback, "Executive Decision," Jack Ryan becomes president and invites the new Stanley Cup champions, the Mighty Ducks, to the White House. . . .

OK, it's fiction. But the authentic Stanley Cup will be at the Pond of Anaheim on Monday, when Duck playoff tickets go on sale. . . .

Angel hitting coach Rod Carew can get tips at home from daughter Stephanie, who's batting .563 as a sophomore first baseman for Chapman College's softball team. . . .

If Brett Butler had a vote for rookie of the year, he might be tempted not to give it to Dodger teammate Wilton Guerrero. Instead, he might vote for Wilton's brother, Vladimir Guerrero, who plays right field for Montreal. . . .

Trying to score from second base on a single in an exhibition last week, Butler was thrown out by so much at home by Vladimir that the Dodger center fielder didn't even slide. He just laughed and hugged the catcher. . . .

Loyal to the Pacific 10, UCLA Coach Steve Lavin picks Arizona to win the NCAA title. . . .

Or is he just trying to set up Lute Olson? . . .

While on the "Road to Atlanta," no doubt pulling for the Wildcats will be Kenny Lofton. He played for the Arizona team that went to the Final Four in 1988 with Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Tom Tolbert and Anthony Cook. . . .

Defender Paul Caligiuri will join the Galaxy in time for the season opener Saturday night at the Rose Bowl against D.C. United. A Diamond Bar native who played at UCLA, he won an arbitrator's decision that forced Major League Soccer to allocate his rights to Los Angeles instead of Columbus. . . .

It appears as if the Galaxy's leading scorer from last season, Eduardo Hurtado, also will play in the opener. Ecuador's soccer federation initially wanted him to come home early for a World Cup qualifying game next Wednesday against Peru. . . .

At a luncheon for the Galaxy on Tuesday, emcee Stu Nahan recalled his time in 1976 on the set of "Rocky." It seemed like such a mess that he predicted for his Channel 5 audience, "This is going to be the worst movie ever made." . . .

E-2. No matter what you might have read here Tuesday, John Derek did not say his famous line, "Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse," in "Saturday's Hero." The movie was "Knock on Any Door."

*

While wondering if Schea Cotton is still committed to Long Beach State, I was thinking: The news about King playoff tickets must have been lost in the mail, Alexi Lalas is better for U.S. soccer in commercials than on the field, the Dodger mission becomes tougher with Lofton in Atlanta.

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