Believing he's been robbed of victories in the past, Lucero has swallowed his pride for long enough. And indeed, he admittedly regrets not being fully prepared for some fights – especially when he fought current pound-for-pound leader Manny Pacquiao.
On November 11th, in Las Vegas, the journeyman feels his destiny is finally in his own hands. He's completely focused on one thing - defeating Diego Magdaleno.
"I want to fight Pacquiao or Marquez," Lucero said. "Magdaleno is a good prospect but he is just a stepping stone for me to fight the best in the world."
Lucero's logic makes sense.
Magdaleno is one of the biggest names in the Super Featherweight division - But even a decision victory over the young upstart won't provide the kind of buzz he'll need to reach the upper echelon of the division. Lucero knows he needs to use Magdaleno to make a statement. "I'm coming to knock him out... I'm coming to hurt him. I'm going to shock him, Las Vegas and the world."
Diego Magdaleno (20-0, 7 KO) is regarded as one of the most prolific and respected upstarts in the game today. His last five fights have been action packed affairs which have created growing legions of local fans who flock to his events. He's also risen to the top of the rankings and is trained by "Irish" Pat Barry and Augie Sanchez at the respected Barry's Boxing Gym in Las Vegas. But despite Diego's reputation, the journeyman appears skeptical about the younger man's skills.
"I saw his last fight with Perez." Lucero said. "I think he's a good prospect but I didn't see anything that makes me worry or fear him."
Lucero was undefeated and on the cusp of stardom before he fought a young Filipino named Manny Pacquiao in June 2003.
"I was the first Mexican to fight Pacquiao. I was 21-0 and had a choice of three fighters. (The others being Rocky Juarez and Juan Manuel Marquez). I'd never heard of Pacquiao so I thought why not? I've been around a long time and Pacquiao hits harder than anyone I've ever faced."
Addressing the well-publicized rumors about Pacquiao's use of performance enhancing drugs, Lucero quipped, "I didn't see any evidence of him using any drugs or steroids. He's just naturally strong."
But in Magdaleno, Lucero doesn't see that kind of power. "He doesn't really have knock-out power. He throws a lot of punches and out-points his opponents but there's nothing there I need to be afraid of."
When asked how he would rate Magdaleno among the other fighters in the division Lucero uttered, "I will rate him after I knock him out."
There's little doubt Las Vegas residents will be out in force to support their local hero, Diego Magdaleno – But Lucero has other ideas. "I will steal his fans. They are boxing fans. After a few rounds of watching me and my performance they will begin to cheer for me," the Mexican confidently stated.
Lucero was an 11 year old street fighter in the tough streets of New York City when he started to box. "I got to hit some guys and some guys hit me and I got 10 dollars a fight. After my first fight I said 'I kinda like this.'" His beginnings in the streets have made him a strong Floyd Mayweather Jr. fan.
Magdaleno's much-publicized friendship with Victor Ortiz appeared to only add fuel to Lucero's fire. "You don't go into a fight to kiss and hug your opponent...That's why they call it a fight.... Mayweather was smart," Lucero said approvingly. "If you get an opportunity like that, you take it."
When asked if he would punch Magdaleno if his (Magdaleno's) hands were down, he replied, "Yes, of course."
The 32 year old Lucero is at a crossroads in his career and in life, in general. He has two beautiful children and another on the way. He knows that if he beats Magdaleno, he'll have the opportunity to create a much better life for his kids and his family.
Everything hinges on this fight.
With Pacquiao vs. Marquez in the same town (Las Vegas) the next day, Lucero knows a core of the boxing media will be on-hand to scope new stars. He knows he must beat Magdaleno soundly in order to get another shot at becoming an elite fighter and fighting for a major title. And from what he's saying, Lucero is ready to give the best performance of his career.
Magdaleno is young and hungry and only one or two fights away from a shot at a major world title. Rest-assured, he'll be ready. If Lucero is as good and prepared as he says he'll be, this fight could be one for the ages.