Advertisement
Advertisement

Mendez, Escalante Headline at Cache Creek Sept. 28

By Ryan Maquiñana

Paul “El Gallo Negro” Mendez keeps piling up wins.  The question is how many of them will be enough for the young middleweight to break through on a national level.

“I don’t plan on losing anytime soon, but in this business, I know you can’t just win,” said Mendez, who rides an eight-bout unbeaten streak into Saturday’s ten-rounder against Rahman Yusubov at Cache Creek Resort Casino in Brooks, Calif., an hour west of Sacramento.  “You have to win spectacularly, and that’s my main focus if I want to get noticed by the television networks.”

Mendez (13-2-1, 5 KOs), who now fights out of Salinas, Calif., after growing up three hours south in the Central Valley city of Delano, did what most unsigned prospects do in their early careers—take fights on short notice in hostile environments, with some of them taking place at disadvantageous weights.

“I’m 24 years old and I’m still young, but a lot of people consider me a veteran because of my tough fights,” said Mendez, whose nickname (“The Black Rooster”) is derived from his dual African-American and Mexican heritage.  “But sometimes, I want to fight, and it’s the warrior in me—what my dad taught me to do.

“I know if I want people to keep coming back to watch me fight, I have to entertain.  A lot of people don’t always appreciate the sweet science, so I want to show I have the ammunition to entertain the fans, too.”

Eventually, the boxing world’s way of administering tough love to the 24-year-old middleweight has served him well, even during this recent string of victories.  In his last two triumphs over Alfredo Contreras and Dashon Johnson, Mendez was forced to exhibit his poise as both opponents surprisingly took him the distance.

“I feel like the way I’ve been fighting lately, with my movement and speed, it’s because of my team,” Mendez said of his trainers, the father-son duo of Max and Sam Garcia.  “They’ve taught me how to calm down and how to box.  Sometimes I’ll start to trade punches and slug it out, but trust me, they yell at me when I get back to the corner to get me on track.”

Now Yusubov (9-11, 7 KOs) steps up to the plate.  Once a promising welterweight, the resident of Dallas, Tex., and native of Azerbaijan has dropped eight of nine, becoming fodder for young pugs like Hugo Centeno and Abraham Han in the process.  However, Yusubov showed there was something left in the tank last year when he knocked out aging former welterweight titleholder James Page, who was in the midst of a comeback.

“Yusubov can punch, but I’m not worried about that.  I’m more worried about what I have to bring to the table,” said Mendez, who held camp in Big Bear and sparred Shane Mosley and prospect Sammy Gonzalez among others.

Mendez, whose power seems more at home at 160 than 168 pounds due to his propensity to engage, is cognizant that one shot flush on the chin could end a fighter’s night, whether he gives or receives it.

“I’ve been doing this for 14 years, and I’ve never been dropped, but this is boxing.  I know I’m taking a risk every time I trade,” Mendez said.  “But I feel confident in my chin, in my ring experience, and how to react when I’ve been hit with a big shot.  If it all goes according to plan, I’ll knock [Yusubov] out in five rounds.”

In the co-feature, Bruno “Aloha Kid” Escalante (9-1-1, 5 KOs) is building a streak of his own as he guns for his third straight knockout and fifth win overall in an eight-rounder against Joseph Rios.

The diminutive junior bantamweight has become a fan favorite in Northern California boxing circles for his explosive displays of one-punch knockout power.  After flooring his last two overmatched foes a combined four times en route to stoppages, the 24-year-old Filipino who now calls San Carlos, Calif., home faces a genuine threat in Rios (13-8-2, 4 KOs).

“My team has warned me about Rios being tough,” Escalante said.  “He’s never been stopped other than on cuts.  I’m expecting a tough battle.  I can last a strong eight rounds, but if the opportunity unfolds, I will take it.  We Filipinos like to gamble, so I know there’s going to be a lot of us here on Saturday.  I want to make them and my fans happy.”

Rios, from San Antonio, Tex., once took a young Leo Santa Cruz the distance, and prior to his last defeat in March to Jonathan Gonzalez, beat three consecutive unbeaten fighters.  One of those wins was an upset of Miguel Diaz for a regional title.

“We expect him to come forward and fight, but my speed and power will be the key for this fight,” Escalante said.  “He’s beaten a couple of undefeated fighters, and we’ll just have to see on Saturday in that first round how he fights, because a fighter can be different from watching him on film when he fights you.”

Beating Rios would add a hint of validation to the southpaw’s belief that he is a legitimate 115-pound prospect worthy of fighting at a higher level next time out.

“Every fight is an opportunity to showcase my skills, and if I get a chance to fight for any kind of title down the line, that’s great, but right now I’m prepared for this challenge in front of me,” said Escalante, whose only loss is to fellow up-and-comer Matthew Villanueva by decision. 

The show will begin with three local unbeaten up-and-comers—San Francisco middleweight Ricardo Pinell (5-0-1, 4 KOs), San Jose lightweight Andy Vences (3-0, 2 KOs), and Salinas junior welterweight Darwin Price (1-0, 1 KO)—in separate bouts against opponents to be determined.

Tickets are priced at $65, $95 and $125, and can be purchased at cachecreek.com, tickets.com, and pacopresentsboxing.com.  The weigh-in will take place at Cache Creek Casino Resort on Friday starting at 3 p.m.

Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com.  He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Post a Comment - View More User Comments (0)
Top Headlines Oscar Molina, Jarrett Hurd Aim to Make Most of Surprise CBS Slot Porter: Fighting Me Will Be A Shock To Keith Thurman's System Arum: Ramirez Confident of What He Can Do Against Golovkin Frank Warren To Hearn: Joshua is Number 1? Let Him Prove It! Daily Bread Mailbag: Danny Garcia, Lomachenko, Thurman, More Semajay Thomas Embraces How Boxing Changed His Life Yodmongkol Vor Saengthep Easily Stops Outmatched Opponent Parker: Soon Joshua's Confidence Will Be Tested Against Me Golovkin's Coach: We Never Asked Andre Ward For 164 Weight George Groves Entering Last-Chance Saloon Against Murray LaRon Mitchell Stops Epifanio Mendoza in Three Rounds Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter: Pre-Fight Report Card Ricardo Rodriguez Beats David Quijano in Boxeo Telemundo Canelo's Manager Taking Smith Serious, Expects Dangerous Fight Photos: Vargas Rubs Shoulders With Mayweather at BWAA Awards Canelo's Manager To Critics: We're Back To Our Natural Weight! Kenny Porter Not Concerned With Layoff as Thurman Shot Nears Arum: Thurman-Porter is Good Fight, Hope it Gets Good Rating Thurman Reflects on His Long Journey, Lessons Along The Way Video: Jessie Vargas Talks Kell Brook, Thurman vs. Porter Photos/Weights: PBC on NBCSN - Justin DeLoach-Junior Castillo Photos: Mike Alvarado vs. Josh Torres, Korobov-Vera Weighin DiBella Breaks Down Thurman-Porter, Isn't Sure Who Wins Povetkin, Ryabinsky To Hold Meeting With WBC Next Week Liam Smith: I Will Shake Up The World When I Beat Canelo Groves Explains His Version of Events in Golovkin Sparring Tale Photos: Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter Ready For Barclays War Weights from Brooklyn: Porter Strips to 147, Thurman at 146 Liam Smith vs. Canelo Alvarez - Fight Poster Revealed Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith Finalized at 154, 9/17 on PPV Fury To Klitschko: I'm Hitler? You Stupid F***ing Ukrainian Pr*ck! Golden Boy VP Reacts To Arum, Insists Pacquiao vs. Broner is On! Video: Sky Sports Crew Discuss Klitschko vs. Fury Postponement Video: Joshua-Breazeale, Groves-Murray, Eubank-Doran Weighin Jason Sosa Drills Javier Fortuna in Eleventh, Grabs WBA Title Eubank Jr: I Didn't Want To Take Off Underwear, Scare Everyone Photos: Anthony Joshua, Dominic Breazeale Ready For Battle Felix Diaz-Levan Ghvamichava Tops PBC on FS1, July 12 Photo: Tyson Fury's Badly Bruised, Sprained Ankle Injury Felix Verdejo-Jose Felix Likely For October - If Pacquiao Returns
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement