Wilfredo Mendez to make second 105-pound title defense against Alexis Diaz on December 16
Wilfredo Mendez, of Puerto Rico, will defend his WBO strawweight title against Alexis Diaz on December 16, manager Raul Pastrana confirmed to The Ring on Tuesday night.
The 12-round bout will take place at the Hotel Catalonia Malecon Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Mendez (16-1, 6 knockouts), who is ranked No. 4 by The Ring at 105 pounds, most recently fought on February 8, stopping Colombia’s Gabriel Mendoza in Round 9. The victory over Mendoza was Mendez’s second defense of the WBO title he won by defeating Victorio Saludar of the Philippines on August 24 of last year.
The 24-year-old is currently training in Las Vegas where, according to Pastrana, he has been training for the last four months.
“Wilfredo had to train there because the government in Puerto Rico has locked down gyms and training centers due to the [COVID-19] pandemic,” said Pastrana. “His training has been excellent. He’s been sparring against [IBF] 108-pound titleholder Felix Alvarado. We wanted that fight against [former WBC titleholder and previously-unbeaten] Wanheng Menayothin (aka Chayaphon Moonsri) but Golden Boy [Promotions] did not return our phone calls.
“We know Alexis Diaz is a very difficult fighter. He is an excellent opponent for Wilfredo.”
Mendez has won his last seven fights since suffering the only loss of his career at the hands of Leyman Benavides, of Nicaragua, in March 2018. Pastrana believes the loss was a blessing in disguise for Mendez, who has committed himself more to the sport.
“Wilfredo is like another fighter,” said Pastrana. “He has improved his conditioning, his eating habits and [with whom] he associates himself in his personal life. He was not responsible to what he needed to do in the gym. Now he is dedicated to still being a champion. He is in the gym four to six hours a day. On Monday, his weight was [between] 108 [and] 109 pounds.”
Mendez is trained by Freddy Trinidad but will likely have Joel Gonzalez and Sugar DeLeon in his corner on fight night. Trinidad was scheduled to be in the corner of bantamweight contender Emmanuel Rodriguez on December 19 but Rodriguez’s fight against Nonito Donaire was postponed earlier Wednesday after Donaire tested positive for COVID-19.
Diaz (25-2, 17 KOs), who resides in Machiques, Venezuela, stopped overmatched Yorvis Ramos in Round 4 of his most recent bout on September 14 of last year. The fight took place over six months after losing by stoppage to contender Jose Argumedo, who is ranked No. 7 by The Ring.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring 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. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.