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Opponent changes, but Nico Hernandez says he’s ready

Nico Hernandez’s home gym reopens

Hernandez Boxing Academy was reopened on Thursday morning, Sept. 21, 2017, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The gym was gutted by fire November 2016.
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Hernandez Boxing Academy was reopened on Thursday morning, Sept. 21, 2017, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The gym was gutted by fire November 2016.

The opponent has changed, but the preparation for Nico Hernandez’s third professional fight hasn’t.

Less than two weeks before the fight, Hernandez learned Mexican flyweight Francisco Lapizco had broken his contract with KO Night Boxing and was being pulled from Saturday’s main event at Hartman Arena. Instead, Hernandez (2-0, 2 KOs) will fight Basyzbek Baratov (2-1-2) of Kyrgyzstan in a six-round flyweight bout.

“It’s a pretty big change because (Baratov) fights a lot differently than the first guy I was going to fight,” Hernandez said. “That guy liked to bang and come forward, but (Baratov) is fast and he likes to hit and move. So I’m going to have to change up my style too. I’ve been working on it and I don’t think it’s a problem.”

After two months of training to handle the brash style of Lapizco, the Hernandez training camp says it has had little trouble transitioning to a new opponent and new fighting style.

“It’s tough because we’ve been training him for a different style and we got him a sparring partner like (Lapizco),” said Lewis Hernandez, Nico’s trainer and father. “But it’s a style that Nico can adapt to. Nico is used to banging and at the end of the day, we’ve got to make sure we fight our fight and not his fight.”

There is limited video of Baratov, who now trains in Philadelphia, but he does have common opponents with Hernandez from his amateur career.

“He’s beat some guys that we’ve fought before and we thought those were tough fights,” Lewis Hernandez said. “He’s got a lot of international experience, so we’re expecting this to be a tough fight. It’s going to be a chess game.”

Hernandez said the tape he has seen of Baratov has led him to believe he will be conservative and will try to make Hernandez chase him in the ring.

“I’m going to have to use my angles to cut him off and trap him,” Hernandez said. “I can’t let him move around as much as he likes.”

Lewis Hernandez knows the crowd will be cheering for a third straight knockout, but patience will be the key to victory for Nico on Saturday.

“We’re going to have to push with a lot of jabs because you can’t dive in head-first at this guy,” Lewis Hernandez said. “He uses some good feints and he knows how to bait you in, so you have to be very careful of his counter. He’s slick enough to move around, so we can’t get in a hurry and chase him.”

Taylor Eldridge: 316-268-6270, @vkeldridge

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