Pernell finds himself in the outsider’s role |

Pernell finds himself in the outsider’s role

Steve Yingling and Matt O'Neill

Usually pro fighters save the heartfelt handshakes and embraces until after the final bell. Respecting a foe before the fight doesn’t lure patrons from the blackjack tables or slot machines.

Carlos Bojorquez and Pernell Whitaker didn’t badmouth each other or encourage their nonexistent entourage to stage a melee during Wednesday’s press conference to hype Friday’s junior middleweight bout at Caesars Tahoe.

In fact, they good-naturedly shook hands and embraced, playing more the part of friends than combatants.

“Any man who puts on gloves has a chance to win a fight,” said the 37-year-old Whitaker. “I’m not looking past Carlos. I don’t know much about him.

“Carlos is one of the bravest guys to step into the ring. Not everyone is ringing my doorbell. My name is like Kryptonite to them. They’re all running for the border.”

The 28-year-old Bojorquez didn’t offer any jabs either.

“He’s a lot like me,” he said. “I’m respectful of fighters. At the fight there’s a difference. All these stories change when you’re fighting in the ring.”

The closest the two came to exchanging glancing blows was when Whitaker was asked about Bojorquez’s fan base in Placerville and Bojorquez discussed his fight strategy.

“Poor thing,” Whitaker said. “He’s gonna need his fans. They can’t do anything for him when he’s locked in the cage.”

“I’ve been looking at tapes and he doesn’t look like he did five years ago. He’s fought the greatest, but that was in the past. Now, he’s not the same,” Bojorquez said. “I know that he doesn’t have good power, but he’s a good boxer.”

With that being the extent of their smack talk, certainly someone has a prediction.

“Never,” Whitaker said. “It’s my night. My debut was in the Garden (in 1984), and I feel just like that night.”

Whitaker will receive $25,000 for Friday’s fight, while Bojorquez will get $15,000.

Bojorquez never met local trainer Juan Torres while he lived in Placerville, but the two became acquaintances while training in San Diego several years ago.

“I saw him when he fought (Hector) Camacho Jr. , but I haven’t seen him in three years,” said Bojorquez, not knowing that the “Ghost Warrior” retired last summer following two strokes.

This may be only the second time Whitaker has fought in Tahoe, but he isn’t worried about the altitude affecting his performance.

“Last time I was fighting up here, I knocked out (Juan) Nazario in the first round so I don’t think the altitude doesn’t have anything to do with it,” he said. “If I’m in condition, I can fight on the moon.

Bojorquez, a former resident of Placerville, is also used to training in the higher altitudes.

He trained in Big Bear with Fernando Vargas.

“Yesterday, when I got off the plane, I went running up here and I felt fine, so I’m not worried,” he said.

While South Tahoe’s aspiring professional fighter Simon Ruvacalba was unable to secure a last-minute spot on Friday’s card, however, he said he expects to fight soon under the promotion of Lou Duva.

There will be many fighters with local ties competing Friday.

“Koncrete” Kelvin Davis of Sparks will put his 10-0 record on the line, while Eric Regan, who once decisioned Hector “Silent Warrior” Torres, will face Juan Carlos Barreto.

Carson City’s Miquel Ruiz (24-10-2) was a last minute addition and will face Oscar Delgado in a junior welterweight bout.

Also on the undercard will be welterweight Muhammad Abdulae and Oscar Diaz, who is the 1999 national junior welterweight champion and national Golden Gloves finalist.

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