by Cliff Rold
In a fight that started strong and grew nasty, 26-year old Dominican Jr. Lightweight Argenis Mendez (20-2, 10 KO) of Brooklyn, New York, scored a unanimous decision rematch victory over 32-year old Martin Honorio (32-8, 16 KO) of Mexico City, Mexico, on Saturday night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Mendez initially defeated Honorio on a majority decision in 2010.
Mendez secured a mandatory rematch title opportunity against IBF 130 lb. titlist Juan Carlos Salgado (25-1-1, 16 KO). Mendez lost a close decision win to Salgado in September 2011, scoring a knockdown in the final round.
Mendez and Honorio both came into the bout three pounds under the division limit at 127 lbs. The referee was Frank Santore Jr.
Honorio began the fight pressing and Mendez played the sharpshooter, whipping in quick jabs and right uppercuts while taking some hard rights in close. Mendez guarded against the left well and landed a sharp counter right to start the final minute. Mendez landed three more rights in the final ten seconds coming off the ropes, halting the forward progress of Honorio.
The pressure of Honorio continued in the second, sometime recklessly. He received a warning near the midway point for an errant low blow. Swarming Mendez used volume to freeze Mendez’s countering opportunities and landed a big right at mid-ring in the final minute. Mendez rallied with some blistering rights in the closing seconds.
A big right pushed Mendez to the ropes early in the third and another forced a clinch at mid-ring before the round was a minute old. Mendez got his measure near the minute mark, buzzing Honorio bad with a left hook and landing some quick shots near the ropes, Honorio taking the fight back to mid-ring. Mendez lost his mouthpiece and needed it replaced, causing a brief break, the round closing with Honorio on the attack.
Mendez smiled as he picked off shots early in the fourth. An awkward tangle during an exchange saw Honorio spun to the mat, no knockdown scored. Mendez scored the best shots of the round late, again with speedy counters in a steadily crowd-pleasing affair.
Worked to the ropes in the fifth, Mendez scored a scorching right uppercut, still calmly picking spots. It was working, Honorio's offense increasingly futile as he ate rights and a stiff left. Honorio was more accurate in the sixth and both men had moments of solid leather landing.
Smothered for much of the round, Mendez complained to the referee about a roughhousing Honorio and wasn’t throwing while doing so. Honorio was all assault. Losing the round, Mendez scored a rocking right to force a pause but Honorio was right back into the thick of things.
Being outhustled, even while landing better when he let go, Mendez complained of a butt in the last half of the round and got a brief break. Fighting off the ropes late, Mendez blocked and countered in spots while Honorio kept unleashing to the body.
The defense of Mendez carried him well in the ninth and tenth, even as boos came out in the latter when the action ebbed. Santore took a point from Honorio in the former for hitting behind the head. The tenth was marred by excessive clinching with Mendez landing one at a time between turns of grappling in an ugly frame.
It was so ugly in fact it earned an admonishment in the corner from the referee and what appeared a fight commissioner before the start of the eleventh. It didn’t matter and they fell into grappling again right away. Punching returned, Honorio going to the body from range and Mendez threw with his back to the ropes. The action was halted to pull up Mendez’s trunks, a loose protective cup causing issues. Having seen enough of more rough stuff, Honorio was deducted a second point by the referee late in the round. Honorio would later fall to the floor in a moment of awkward attack, the fight devolving into a mess.
The final round displayed some of the fight’s earlier, superior form at the offing, but it didn’t last. Mendez fought like a man sitting on a lead and Honorio fought like a man desperate to erase what lead there might be. The final bell rang and ultimately Mendez’s approach proved wise.
Mendez was rewarded for his work at scores of 115-111, 116-110, and an arguably wide 117-109. The defeat stops Honorio from seeing if he could finish what he started himself with Salgado in April of this year. Honorio suffered two knockdowns but still lost only a narrow majority decision. Mendez will get his chance to see if twice is nicer.
The televised portion of the evening began with a pair of walkover knockout wins.
36-year old former 122 and 130 lb. titlist Joan Guzman (32-0-1, 19 KO), 140, stopped journeyman 32-year old Jorge Pimentel (25-16, 19 KO), 141 ½, with ease in just 33 seconds of Jr. Welterweight action.
In the opener, 23-year old Light Heavyweight prospect Lennin Castillo (7-0, 4 KO), 171, defeated a just as overmatched Ricardo Campillo (7-3-1, 5 KO), 169 ½, with a series of knockdowns to score a second round finish.
The card was broadcast in the U.S. on Telefutura as part of its “Solo Boxeo” series, promoted by Acquinity Sports.
Cliff Rold is a Managing Editor at BoxingScene, and a member of the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]