Injury has kept Yanez from fighting

2/4/2011 - Boxing

LEWISVILLE, Texas -- The first question people have for flyweight boxer Luis Yanez is: Where have you been?

"I've been doing different things throughout the year," he said on a quiet Sunday afternoon. "I got injured with my hand and my body was hurting also, so it was giving me a sign to [stop]."

Yanez will return to the ring after nearly a yearlong layoff Friday when he takes on Joseph Rios in a flyweight bout as part of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" series from the Fort Worth Convention Center arena.

The main event on the card features Sergio Mora taking on Fort Worth's Brian Vera in a junior middleweight bout.

But Yanez's presence on the card is interesting.

He won one fight on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team before getting beaten in his next bout. Prior to that, Yanez quit the Olympic team after a dispute with coach Dan Campbell, and to deal with a family matter, but was later reinstated.

He finished his amateur career winning his last 92 amateur fights before the Olympic Games.

After the Olympics, Yanez turned pro and signed a 12-fight deal worth a little more than $1 million with Los Angles-based Mendelson Entertainment. He also inked a deal with Brown Boy Media to manage him.

He made his pro debut at American Airlines Center, where he won a four-round majority decision over Julio Valadez. Yanez's trainer, Dennie Rodarte, said his fighter had a 102-degree fever and shouldn't have fought, but did anyway to honor his commitment.

"He was sick as hell," Rodarte said.

Things went downhill from there. Yanez won two more fights in 2009 but got into a legal dispute with Brown Boy Media.

"We learned a big lesson from that," Rodarte said of the disagreement. "We didn't know a lot of things and we took them at their word."

The dispute stemmed from money for personal appearances and sponsorships. It's a typical boxing story: a bunch of he-said, she-said things.

Yanez, meanwhile, had to fight.

He last fought Samuel Gutierrez, winning a six-round decision in February 2010, but Yanez broke a knuckle on his left hand in the process. He had another fight scheduled but had to take the rest of the year off because of his injury.

Yanez, 22, is a slick boxer with little knockout power. But his movement and technical skills should allow him to win fights. The time off he's had to endure has allowed other young Dallas-area fighters such as Roberto Marroquin (18-0, 14 KOs) to move up the ranks in popularity and prestige -- all the things Yanez had hoped for.

Friday night, Yanez is hoping to get things started again.

"I feel like I'm 17 or 18 again," said the young fighter. "Everybody has to get older and grow up."

Calvin Watkins covers boxing for ESPNDallas.com.