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BOXING: Brothers hope to make up for lost time

10:00 PM PST on Monday, January 3, 2011

Special to The Press-Enterprise

Don’t waste your time giving brothers Mauricio and Alberto Herrera easy fights — they’re looking for impact challenges, and fast.

The Riverside siblings are facing big obstacles Friday at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas as Mauricio (15-1, 7 KOs) tangles with Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov (17-0, 11 KOs) and Alberto (7-1-1, 5 KOs) fights Demetrius Andrade (11-0, 8 KOs).

Both brothers know they are not the favorites.

Take Mauricio, who’s known as “El Maestro” for his ability to slip punches and confuse opponents with clever defense. Although he’s 30 years old, the older of the Herrera brothers has only 16 pro bouts. Blame loyalty.

Because of his dedication to his amateur coach, he did not enter the pro ranks at an early age despite being one of the better boxers in the Riverside and San Bernardino areas. Finally, in 2007, he and his brother entered the pro ranks, and both are trying to make up for the lost opportunities.

Is it too late?

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David A. Avila / Special to The Press-Enterprise
Brothers Alberto, left, and Mauricio Herrera hope to make a name for themselves Friday in Las Vegas when they battle Demetrius Andrade and Ruslan Provodnikov, respectively.

“We’re both right there trying to get to the top,” said Mauricio Herrera, a junior welterweight. “It’s not going to be an easy fight.”

Herrera’s only loss came to former junior lightweight world champion Mike Anchondo, an experienced veteran who won by split decision in front of a national television audience. The dent in his record angers Herrera.

“I was sick with the flu,” he said. “My legs weren’t there and I still thought I won.”

That loss dropped him to the back of the line after he had won 14 consecutive pro fights against talented opposition. All were tough fighters that Herrera needed to vanquish to move up the ranks quickly.

Time is running out.

Alberto has the same eagerness to test out more experienced fighters. Three months ago he lost to San Diego’s unorthodox southpaw, Chris Chatman, by technical knockout. Chatman nearly beat Alberto’s next opponent, Andrade.

“More than anything I’m mentally ready,” said Alberto, who fights at junior middleweight. “People were saying I didn’t want to fight Demetrius (Andrade), but I want to fight him. I want to be the first to beat him.”

Neither Herrera brother has an easy opponent.

Andrade is a lightning-fast former U.S. Olympian who is left-handed, taller, faster and has more amateur experience than Alberto. But it doesn’t faze the Riversider at all.

“I really want this fight,” the younger Herrera said.

Mauricio faces the rock-solid Provodnikov, who has beaten every opponent with strength and pressure. Knockout victories over Emanuel Augustus and Mexico’s Javier Jauregui were proof of his strength and tenacity.

Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing Promotions, said that the Herrera brothers can’t afford to waste time.

“They’re both in their biggest tests,” Thompson said.

Willy Silva, who trains the brothers, predicts that they will surprise their more-celebrated opponents.

“Nobody gives them a chance, but nobody knows them and what they can do,” Silva said.

The brothers accepted the fights because they know there isn’t much time to waste on building pro experience at their ages. They have to take their chances.

“I’m nobody right now,” Mauricio said. “But after the fight I’ll get some kind of attention.”

Time won’t let the Herreras sit still.

Televised on ESPN2 and Online view on ESPN3

ESPN2, 5 p.m., Mauricio Herrera (15-1), vs. Ruslan Provodnikov (17-0).