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World Boxing Federation Champions Of The Past: Orlando Fernandez

Posted on April 2 2015                                              Bookmark and Share
By: Clive Baum



Since the World Boxing Federation was originally founded by American Larry Carrier in 1988, many of the sport’s biggest names have won a WBF title, and proudly defended the blue, red and gold belt all over the world.

In the Champions Of The Past Series we take a closer look at some of the boxers who held WBF titles in years gone by, from lesser known champions to world renowned fighters, legends of the sport and current or future Hall of Famers.

Former WBF World Super Bantamweight Champion Orlando “Cholo” Fernandez eventually settled in Bronx, New York, but was born in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico on January 18 1963.


Not much is known about how he started boxing, and what kind of amateur career he had, but he turned professional as a 22-year-old on February 23 1985 on a small show in Hato Rey, Puerto Rico, stopping Orlando Santiago (0-1) in the third round.

Fernandez went 6-0 in his first two years as a pro, all bouts taking place in Puerto Rico, before making his USA debut in November 1987 with a ten-round majority decision over Mexican Javier Pichardo (16-4) at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.

In February of 1988, with a 7-0 (4) record, he traveled to Guadalupe for his first major test against experienced and accomplished Frenchman Daniel Londas (42-6-1), who had lost a close decision to South African Brian Mitchell for the WBA World Super Featherweight title only four months earlier.

Londas, who eventually went on to win the European and WBO World Super Featherweight title, was too cagey for Fernandez and won on points after eight rounds, but the fight proved that the young prospect had what it takes to compete at a high level.

Having learned from the experience, Fernandez won his next three fights convincingly, stopping Mario Cordero (5-0), Atiliano Quinones (7-3-1) and Luis Rodriguez (5-3), before going on the road again: In June of 1989, he performed well but lost on points to undefeated Ki-Joon Lee (12-0) in South Korea.

But “Cholo” Fernandes was only really getting started on his big journey! In his very next fight he made a clear statement by knocking out former WBA World Champion Julio Gervacio (20-2-2) in nine rounds, underlining that he was indeed a world-class operator.

At 11-2 (8), and now highly world-ranked, Fernandez got his first world title opportunity on May 12 1990, and made the most of it when he dominated and stopped reigning WBO Super Bantamweight Champion Valerio Nati (45-4-4) in the tenth round of their fight in Sassari, Italy.

Six months later, in what was supposed to be an easy stay-busy fight over ten rounds, Fernandez was thoroughly brought back down to earth when he lost a decision to journeyman Miguel Juarez (6-13-2) in Mexico. While his title was not on the line, and he remained world champion, it was a major disappointment and set-back.

And the downward spiral continued when he lost his first title-defense to Jesse Benavides (32-1) in May of 1991 at the Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas. Benavides won a clear unanimous decision, and Fernandez was send back in the line of contenders.

While Fernandez won his comeback fight, on points over trial-horse Nelson Rodriguez (6-17-3), it looked as if his time at the top level of the sport was over when Chilean Carlos Uribe (27-2) beat him by decision in June of 1992 in Santiago.

At 13-5, having lost three of his previous four fights, it was easy to imagine that his future would be as the “opponent” for future stars looking to put a good name on their record. Such was the case when Fernandez was matched with WBF World Super Bantamweight Champion Felix Camacho (15-2) in a non-title fight on September 4 1992.

Camacho, also from Puerto Rico and brother of the legendary Hector “Macho” Camacho, had won the WBF world title in his previous bout, impressively knocking out Mexican Albert Cepeda. While it was an interesting match on paper, Camacho was on the rise and expected to win, while Fernandez was considered on the down-slide.

But Fernandez pulled off the upset, and resurrected his career with a unanimous decision over ten rounds. He build on his momentum by beating local Dominican hero Rafael Meran (12-5-2) in Santo Domingo a month later, to line up a return fight with Camacho, this time with the WBF World championship at stake.

The eagerly anticipated grudge rematch was set for December 9 1992 in San Juan, and Camacho had sworn revenge, and to destroy Fernandez in quick time to set the record straight. But a rejuvenated and motivated Fernandez won again, this time even more convincingly by wide decision (117-112, 117-112, 116-112).

Now a two-time World Super Bantamweight champion, with two victories over a member of the famous Camacho-family, Orlando Fernandez had developed into a popular boxer in Puerto Rico, but the biggest pay-days were still abroad.

Consequently he accepted to defend his crown in Sydney on April 22 1993 against Australian champion Tony Wehbee (6-1-1), who despite only eight professional contests had already been a part of four twelve-round championship fights.

Wehbee put up a good challenge, and fought the defending champion tooth and nails all the way, but at this point in his career Fernandez was the most experienced boxer in the ring, and won a close, but deserved, split decision in front of the vocal Australian fans.

Following the victory over Wehbee, Fernandez decided to move up to Featherweight in pursuit of a third world championship. He beat former IBC titlist Tomas Valdez (33-16-2) by seventh round knockout, and captured a regional title in Miami when he beat Javier Leon (41-7-2) on points.

But in his third fight it the new weight, a main event battle of former world champions in Atlantic City, Fernandez was out-pointed by American Junior Jones (32-1), who had just lost his WBA world Bantamweight crown less than two months earlier.

He rebounded well with three straight victories, including a win over future WBA world champion Antonio Hernandez (38-16), and then decided to move back down to Super Bantamweight where he was offered a chance to challenge Mexican superstar Marco Antonio Barrera (41-0) for his old WBO World title.

On July 14 1996, at the Mammoth Gardens in Denver, Colorado, Barrera proved that he was something special, as he stopped Fernandez in seven rounds. A year later, Fernandez had his swansong against another massive name in Kevin Kelley (46-1-2), who stopped the Puerto Rican in round ten to effectively end his career.

Orlando “Cholo” Fernandez retired from the ring in 1997, thirty-four years old, a former two-time world Super Bantamweight champion with a final professional record of 22-8 (13).

  Part 15: Roger Turner
  Part 14: Roy Jones Jr.
  Part 13: Fitz Vanderpool
  Part 12: Steve Roberts
  Part 11: Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga
  Part 10: Junior Witter
  Part 9: Jimmy Thunder
  Part 8: Juan Lazcano
  Part 7: Jeff Malcolm
  Part 6: Ricky Parkey
  Part 5: Carl Daniels
  Part 4: Angel Manfredy
  Part 3: Samson Dutch Boy Gym
  Part 2: Greg Haugen
  Part 1: Johnny Nelson
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