LaRon Mitchell to face Epifanio Mendoza tonight
LaRon Mitchell spends every school day attempting to be the best teacher and role model he can be.
Long after his students leave for the day, Mitchell can be found inside a gym, where he works hard to become the next prominent American heavyweight.
Being a pro boxer and middle school teacher could be polar opposites but Mitchell has been successful thus far making his two careers work.
Watching his students graduate junior high and make the transition to high school may be just as rewarding as his best knockout win as a pro.
While summer has arrived and lesson plans are stored away, Mitchell can focus on improving as a pro and slowly turn heads in a crowded heavyweight division.
Mitchell will take on a modest test tonight against former light heavyweight title challenger Epifanio Mendoza at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California. The eight-round bout will top a Thompson Boxing Promotions card.
Mitchell (12-0, 12 knockouts) has chopped down his opposition throughout the three-plus years he has been as a pro. The knockout wins have been impressive but some observers have wondered if Mitchell’s punching power is legit or if the level of opposition has been subpar.
In his last bout on March 12, Mitchell knocked out Raymond Ochieng in the first round.
Mitchell, who resides in San Francisco and teaches in the Oakland area, is 36 years of age and wants to fight as often as possible.
He faces a fighter in Mendoza, who challenged WBC light heavyweight titleholder Chad Dawson in September of 2007. Mendoza (42-22-1, 36 KOs), who weighed in at 230 pounds for tonight’s bout, was stopped in the fourth round.
“I’m excited to get back in the ring,” said Mitchell, who is trained by Jimmy Ford. “I know the last time I fought was in March but it feels a lot longer. I don’t like going extended periods without a fight.”
Tonight’s bout will be his third of 2016, after having fought five times last year.
While Mitchell has shown exceptional power thus far, he does have amateur pedigree. He was a 2012 US Olympic Boxing Trials runner-up, scoring wins over Donovan Dennis and Dominic Breazeale, who fights IBF heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua Saturday night.
Mitchell wants to improve and not solely rely on his power.
“We’re training hard like always. We’ve been focusing on power and speed and just staying true to our routine.”
Mitchell is fighting in his second eight-round bout and if he continues winning, look for him to fight in scheduled 10-round bouts this fall.
In co-main event action, Erick Ituarte (13-1-1, 2 KOs) squares off against Daniel Ramirez (11-3, 5 KOs) in an eight-round junior lightweight bout.
Three more fights round out the “Locked ‘N’ Loaded” card.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.