By Jake Donovan, photos by Reynaldo "Toto Master" Sanchez
With barely a month to go before his rematch with Rances Barthelemy, defending 130 lb. titlist Argenis Mendez continues to grind it out in training camp.
The Dominican boxer has been hard at work at Iron Mike Productions Gym in Deerfield Beach, opening up training camp in early May, with head cornerman Lee Beard and strength and conditioning coach Angel Heredia.
The rematch takes place July 10 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami and will air live on Fox Sports 1.
Concerns were raised prior to the first fight with Barthelemy over Mendez’ conditioning and the means in which he shrunk down to the 130 lb. division. Lending support to such claims was the fact that he was caught early and never able to recover in his controversial clash with the unbeaten Cuban this past January in Minneapolis.
Mendez was dropped hard in round two, and initially ruled as knocked out when he was floored again after the bell to end the round. His camp successfully appealed the outcome of the fight, which was changed from a 2nd round knockout title win for Barthelemy to a No-Decision, thus restoring Mendez’ champion status.
While there were exaggerations made over his alleged weight troubles heading into the first fight, Mendez knows the reversal in the original outcome was a wake-up call. This time around, the 27-year old isn’t leaving anything to chance.
“This fight will be completely different,” Mendez (21-2-1-1ND, 11KO) promises. “The improvements we’re making now will show up on fight night, proving what took place in Minnesota was a fluke. Once the fight is done, I will prove that I am the true 130 lb. champion.”
Proper motivation in training camp hasn’t always proven easy with Mendez, passive by nature except on fight night. Those concerns vanished the moment Heredia came on board.
The strength and conditioning guru comes with a sordid past, but in recent years has turned to boxing as means for personal and public redemption. His results have proven effective, most famously with the rebirth of Juan Manuel Marquez, who is being groomed for another shot at becoming a five-division world champion in what should be the twilight of his career.
Mendez is still deep in his prime years, as evidenced by the hectic pace he continues to maintain while whipped into boxing shape by Beard and physical shape by Heredia.
“We are very confident that we will win (the rematch),” Heredia states. “Mendez is managing to stay ahead of track in his rigorous training schedule and is confident in victory.”
Mendez makes the third defense of the title he acquired last March with an emphatic 4th round knockout of Juan Carlos Salgado. The win avenged an earlier defeat in their Sept. ’11 vacant title fight. However, Mendez has yet to score a victory since winning the title. His previous two defenses have been the loss-turned-No-Decision to Barthelemy, and a disputed 12-round draw with Arash Usmanee last summer.