Wilfredo Mendez hopes for impressive win over Gabriel Mendoza, seeks 105-pound unification bouts
Puerto Rican stylist Wilfredo Mendez will defend his WBO strawweight title against durable veteran Gabriel Mendoza at the Hotel El Panama in Panama City, Panama on Saturday.
Mendez, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 105 pounds, is excited about making the second defense of his title and feels that his skills will be the key to victory.
“I feel blessed to be the main event in Panama,” Mendez (15-1, 5 knockouts) told The Ring through Aleudiro Rosario. “I’m super happy to fight in this event and defend my title so people can know me much more.
“Mendoza is an intelligent boxer who moves well and knows how to go to the body. However, I think he is a little slow and that is where I can take advantage with my speed and youth.
The 23-year-old southpaw is no stranger to fighting on the road, having fought several times in the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
“It honestly does not affect me,” he said. “On the contrary, I don’t have the pressure of having to look good in front of my people. It is also a neutral place and I will feel comfortable in Panama.”
Last August Mendez ended a poor run of world title results for Puerto Rico when he became his country’s 60th male world titleholder by outboxing Vic Saludar. That milestone victory was celebrated on the island and had a big impact on Mendez, who has been able to quit his day job to focus exclusively on boxing.
“It has changed my way of thinking,” said the defending titleholder. “Now I think big and I have taken boxing more seriously. There’s more discipline, more dedication. I want to unify and let good things come later.”
Mendez’s assistant trainer, Yowy Gonzalez, has noticed improvements in his charge since his title triumph.
“After winning the title ‘Bimbito’ [Mendez] has taken things more seriously and is more dedicated to this job,” said Gonzalez. “He is aware that everyone is behind him and that he has to train harder to keep his belt.”
Mendez’s promoter, Peter Rivera of PR Best Boxing Promotions, began his promotional company with brother Ivan in February 2001 and has helped develop the likes of Miguel Cotto, Roman Martinez, Juan Manuel Lopez, Eric Morel and Ivan Calderon into world titleholders. Rivera believes that this is just the beginning.
“The plans with ‘Bimbito’ are to make him known everywhere, to continue as a champion and later unify with the other champions,” said Rivera.
Mendoza (30-6-2, 23 KOs) is 40 years old and a former world title challenger. A professional since 2008, he has faced several stalwarts of the lighter divisions including Carlos Buitrago (L UD 10), Karluis Diaz (L SD 11), Alberto Rossell (L UD 12), Jose Argumedo (L TKO 8) and Mark Anthony Barriga (L UD 12).