Utah boxer claims world title

Posted at 11:46 PM, May 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-01 16:16:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Chris "Kid Kayo" Fernandez has spent most of his life as a journeyman fighter. Now he's a world champion.

On May 18th, the 36-year-old from Salt Lake City upset World Boxing Union welterweight champ Michael "No Joke" Stewart with a unanimous 8-round decision in Stewart's hometown of Dover, Delaware to claim the belt. The Highland High School graduate becomes the third Utahn to hold a world boxing title, joining former middleweight champ Gene Fullmer from West Jordan and featherweight Danny "Little Red" Lopez from Fort Duchesne.

On Thursday at the Flash Academy in Salt Lake City, Fernandez told Fox 13's Rick Aaron about his emotions when the ref raised his hand in victory that night.

"I jumped around. I cried," Fernandez said. "We all shared tears, tears of joy. Man it's just a long, hard road you know. Not every fighter has a chance to say that they're a champion you know and I'm at the end of my career and there was a point when I was thinking I have nothing to show for my career and now I do."

Fernandez is managed by Eddie "Flash" Newman, a former kickboxing world champion who began working with Fernandez six years ago.

"He had skills, basic skills like everybody else," Newman said. "But he had the dedication. You tell him to be at the gym at 4 o'clock, he's there. You tell him to be there at 5 in the morning, he's there."

Fernandez plans to defend his WBU welterweight title in August against an opponent to be determined in Salt Lake City.