Tuesday, March 28, 2023  |


Wilfredo Mendez upsets Vic Saludar, wins WBO strawweight belt

Wilfredo Mendez celebrates his victory. (Photo from @WorldBoxingOrg/Twitter)
Fighters Network

Wilfredo Mendez pulled off the world title upset Saturday night, winning a unanimous decision over Vic Saludar to lift the WBO strawweight title title at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The scores were 117-110, 115-112, 116-111, giving Puerto Rico its only current male world champion after several high profile losses in recent months.

Mendez (14-1, 5 KOs) used the ring to box and move for much of the night against Saludar (19-4, 10 KOs), who was making the second defense of the belt he won a year ago. Saludar scored the only knockdown of the fight in round 3.

Mendez, 22, of Caguas, Puerto Rico had become the mandatory challenger in May when he won a split decision over Janiel Rivera.

Saludar, 28, of Polomolok, Philippines was without the services of his head trainer Michael Palacios, who was unable to travel due to a visa issue. Instead, he had Bobby Villaver, a Hawaii based mentor to Palacios, in his corner. He also didn’t have promoter Kenneth Rontal with him, as he was dealing with a family emergency.

“Of course I will not agree about [the decision] but the best thing to do is accept,” said Palacios. “We already knew that if the fight will go the distance they will win.”

The fight was televised in Puerto Rico by Wapa Deportes but was not shown in the United States or Philippines.

Saludar entered the fight rated no. The other two reigning titleholders at 105 pounds are Wanheng Menayothin (WBC) and Knockout CP Freshmart (WBA), both undefeated and from Thailand. The Philippines will have another titleholder at 105 pounds shortly when the vacant IBF title is contested for by Samuel Salva and Pedro Taduran on September 7 in an all Filipino title fight.