Nico Hernandez is bringing the first world title boxing match to Kansas.
Hernandez (4-0, 3 KOs), a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, will fight Szilveszter Kanalas (14-7, 9 KOs) in a 12-round bout for the vacant International Boxing Association world flyweight championship at Kansas Star Arena next Saturday. Tickets starting at $30 are available on Ticketmaster.com.
"I'm pretty sure everybody who has been to one of my fights know that I bring a lot of hype to my fights and I put on a show," Hernandez said. "Let's just say I don't plan on it going the full 12 rounds."
In his last fight, Hernandez knocked out last-minute replacement Victor Torres to win the IBA Americas flyweight belt.
When Hernandez decided to turn pro following the 2016 Olympics, he stated it was a goal for him to become a world champion. Even he's surprised things are happening this quickly — in two years' time and his fifth professional fight — and at his home venue.
"I'm really proud of myself and proud of my team for getting me here," Hernandez said. "We've been working hard for this, and we're making history. I just want to keep all of this good work up."
Lewis Hernandez, Nico's father and trainer, thinks a victory next Saturday could propel Nico Hernandez to stardom.
"People don't really realize what's going on until something big happens," Lewis Hernandez said. "A lot of people didn't know about Nico until the Olympics. Now if we can win this title fight, then that something big will help grow something small into something big."
Despite being just 19, Kanalas, a southpaw from Hungary, has the most professional experience of any boxer Hernandez has faced. Kanalas won his first eight fights, including the WBF world super flyweight title at age 17. But Kanalas has lost four of his last five fights.
Lewis Hernandez said Kanalas has a style that's difficult to prepare for but promised Nico Hernandez will show a style "people haven't seen from him before."
"Nico is a very exciting fighter," Lewis Hernandez added. "Even for people who don't even watch boxing. They'll probably see something they've never seen before if they watch Nico fight. He's just a different style. He can bang with you or he can box with you."
Kanalas has been very vocal in the lead-up to the fight about his confidence in defeating Hernandez in his home venue. "I'm not going to talk about my plan to win the fight, but I can tell you Nico will not love my plan," he told the fight promoter, KO Night Boxing.
Nico Hernandez said he's not worried about what's said outside of the ring, he's prepared for what he will do inside it.
"I don't really know too much about (Kanalas)," Hernandez said. "I'm not really worried about him. I'm just focused on me."