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Wilfredo Mendez returns to action to take on Kenny Cano on April 8  

Puerto Rico's Wilfredo Mendez hits the heavy bag during a training session in Japan on Dec. 2021 - Photo courtesy of Team Bimbito
Fighters Network

Former WBO strawweight titleholder Wilfredo Mendez, who is ranked No. 5 by The Ring, will face Kenny Cano of Venezuela on April 8, Spartan Boxing announced Monday afternoon.

The 10-round bout will take place at the Pabellon de Esgrima del Centro Olimpico in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and will stream live on the Shuan Boxing YouTube page (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).

Mendez (16-2, 6 knockouts) last fought on December 14, losing by knockout to Masataka Taniguchi in the 11th round. The loss to Taniguchi took place almost two years after Mendez made the third successful defense of the WBO title by stopping Gabriel Mendoza of Colombia. Mendez blames inactivity for his poor performance against Taniguchi, who now owns the WBO 105-pound world title.

“I wasn’t being active,” said Mendez, who resides in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. “For my (world) title defense in Japan, I had not fought in 22 months and now I’m immediately fighting again. I would like to have a rematch against (Taniguchi) after this fight on April 8, and he fights two weeks later.”

The 25-year-old recently enlisted the training services of Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez, who is a former three-time junior lightweight titleholder. Martinez has faced the likes of former Ring Magazine lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomahenko and Orlando Salido, but has not fought since losing by knockout to Yuriorkis Gamboa in July 2019.

“On April 8, (Wilfredo) will have more strength,” said Martinez. “The question is whether (he) will keep up with the training. This isn’t about resting one or two months after a fight. This is whether he maintains his body to obtain the results he needs. I don’t have any doubt that Wilfredo will be 100 percent and it will be a great fight.

Mendez has enjoyed working with Martinez thus far, having made an immediate impact on him.

“Rocky is very disciplined in his work,” said Mendez. “He always arrives early and puts lots of enthusiasm to what he does. He pays attention every detail and you always see him checking his little notebook. I feel good with him. His discipline took him to be a three-time world champion and he always expects the most (out of me).”

In Cano (14-4, 11 KOs), Mendez will face a fighter who has lost his last three fights, all by knockout. In his last bout on September 24, the 31-year-old was knocked out by once-beaten Cristian Gonzalez of Mexico in the second round.

Mendez is not overlooking Cano, especially when the Taniguchi rematch could take place later this year.

“I had the loss in Japan and lost my title, but I’ve been known for coming back strong after (my) defeats. I know my opponent is a puncher and he has faced world champions and top prospects. He has his accomplishments and I am ready for this challenge.”

The contract weight for the Mendez-Cano fight is 107 pounds.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 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 at FSalazarBoxing