By Francisco Salazar
Second chances are hard to come by in life. In the world of sports, athletes relish receiving that sought-after opportunity to avenge a defeat or to make amends with their past.
Cleotis “Mookie” Pendarvis never thought he would get a second chance. The fast-handed southpaw has talent, but never took training or his career seriously.
After disappointing losses, even in some where he was favored, Pendarvis was in danger of being dubbed by the Southern California boxing media as a “never-was” instead of a “has-been.”
After some soul-searching and having the right people to take a chance on him, Pendarvis is knocking on the door of the modest level of junior welterweight division.
Pendarvis will fight Michael Clark in a scheduled 12 round bout tonight at the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood, CA. The bout will headline an Art of Boxing/ Bash Boxing card, in association with Pitbull Boxing Promotions.
Pendarvis (16-3-2, 5 KOs) is coming off a hard-fought 12 round unanimous decision over Robert Frankel on May 25th. The victory marked his fifth victory in a row since an eight round split decision loss to Terrance Cauthen in June of 2010.
Life was not so good for Pendarvis. After growing up in the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles with Rico Ramos, Pendarvis turned pro in over eight years ago.
Pendarvis won a majority of his early bouts, but never spent as much time in the gym as a dedicated fighter should.
Pendarvis also had to deal with personal matters in recent years. He had to take care of his ailing mother who is in a wheelchair. Less than two weeks before he fought Mauricio Herrera in October of 2009, he cites having to bury his brother, who was shot to death.
Now that the past is behind him, Pendarvis is satisfied with what he accomplished in 2012 and is eager to see what 2013 will bring.
However, he would need to get by Clark (43-7-1, 18 KOs), who is coming off am eight round majority decision over Jake Giuriceo on July 21st. Clark, who has won regional title belts throughout his 20 year professional career and challenged for a world title in October of 1999, is famous for appearing on the boxing reality show, “The Contender.”
“I know that he has a lot of experience,” Pendarvis said to Boxingscene.com earlier this month. “But I feel I’m the better fighter. I know he will be at his best to try and beat me. But I feel that I’m better than him.”
Pendarvis has lofty goals after a victory over Clark. He is angling for a rematch with Herrera, whom he lost to by majority decision over eight rounds. The fight could be a possibility, especially since both fighters are from Southern California and draw reasonably well.
Pendarvis, who is the father of two children, is confident that he could defeat those fighters whom he lost to early in his career.
“Right now, I know that I’m better than the fighters I lost to.”
2013 could be a good year for Pendarvis. He has a promoter and a manager behind him and he has dedicated himself full time to the sport.
There are those that say that athletes, especially boxers, learn more in defeat than consistently winning. That remains to be seen with the fighter known as “Mookie,” but it is a good sign that he has won five bouts in a row.
He is eager to make a statement against Clark tonight and see whom he could face amongst the elite at 140 pounds.
“I’m ready for the next level.”
Doors to the Florentine Gardens in Hollywood open at 7PM. The venue is located at 5955 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. For tickets, call (626) 388-8888.