It was not the 10-count that had the former Mexican world champion Fernando “Cochulito” Montiel on maximum alert this time. The thundering sound of a shootout at 5 a.m. forced the boxer to jump out of his bed and look for his three children, in order to bring them to safety.
On the dawn of January 8, in the Mexican city of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, one of Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s men broke into the boxer’s house while trying to escape the Mexican Marines’ operation to recapture El Chapo for the second time.
“I heard the gunshots and I flew to my children’s room upstairs to bring them down with me. Then the alarm went off, so I went out to check and noticed the hallway door was open, and I thought it was weird,” the former champion recalls in an interview with us.
He never imagined that a fugitive had gotten past his home security system and was hiding in one of the bedrooms. Twenty minutes after the alarm had gone off, another noise forced Cochulito out of his room – somebody was knocking on his door. Immediately after opening it, the boxer remembered what it felt like to take a hook to the liver: his legs were shaking and a group of marines were outside his door asking permission to enter his home in order to look for the criminals.
“I accepted. I had no problem,” the multiple WBO Flyweight Champion recounts.
Immediately, as if they were trainers during the one-minute break between rounds, the marines gave the former champion instructions: his wife and sons had to remain in the main bedroom, while Cochulito and one marine would remain in the living room. The rest of them would search every inch in the house.
“I heard the gunshots and I flew to my children’s room upstairs to bring them down with me.”
While the marines looked from one room to the other, one of the officials saw Cochul’s belts and asked, “Are you the champion?”
“I told him I had been Flyweight, Super Flyweight, and Bantamweight WBO and WBC champion. The marines treated me very well after finding out who I was.”
The friendliness was interrupted with a scream that made the former champion’s leg shaky. “We caught one,” screamed one of the marines, who had arrested the alleged criminal.
“They thought I had let him in, but no. I told them about the alarm, and then we realized they had cut the cables. I also told them about door I had found open,” remembers the boxer.
The marines concluded that the fugitive jumped the fence, cut the alarm cables, opened the door, and ran to the second floor, where he hid for at least 30 minutes.
Unlike the times Cochul fell to the canvas in the ring, on this occasion it took him at least half an hour to react, until he finally decided to question the soldiers.
“What’s the reason for the shootout? Who are you looking for?” asked the boxer. “Tomorrow you’ll find out,” answered one of them, while the soldier who had stayed in the living room with Cochul asked for a photo with the boxer.
After the military operation (and just like on fight nights), Cochul could not go to sleep: adrenaline was rushing through his system, even though his boxing gloves were nowhere in sight.