Wilfredo ‘Bimbito’ Mendez hits the road for the first time as a reigning strawweight titlist.
The diminutive southpaw from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico is set for the second defense of his current title reign, as he faces Colombia’s Gabriel Mendoza in a scheduled 12-round main event Saturday evening at El Panama Hotel in Panama City, Panama. Both boxers made weight for the contest, with Mendez (15-1, 5KOs) coming in 104¾ pounds, while Mendoza weighed right at the 105-pound limit.
Mendez settled for a seven-round technical split decision win over Axel Aragon in his most recent start last October in his Trujillo Alto hometown. Mendez had to climb off the deck in order to prevail, surging in rounds five and six only for a clash of heads—which occurred in round six—leaving Aragon unable to continue at the start of round seven, thus forcing the bout to go to the scorecards.
Aragon took the fight on short notice for Mendoza, who was forced to withdraw late in the promotion as he was unable to travel due to visa issues.
This time around, the defending titlist makes it easier for his rescheduled challenger.
“We are very happy to defend my title in Panama,” insists Mendez, who dethroned Victor Saludar in a 12-round decision to begin his strawweight title reign last August. “We had a great training camp and will proudly represent Puerto Rico well and keep the title (there).”
Mendoza (30-6-2, 23KOs) attempts to claim a belt on his third try. The 40-year old Colombian slugger fell short in an interim title bid versus Alberto Rossel in March 2014, while suffering an 8th round knockout at the hands of Jose Argumedo in a May 2017 strawweight title fight. Such an accomplishment on Saturday would be considered a major upset as Mendoza has never won outside of his native Colombia (0-4 on the road).
Joining Mendez on the road trip is his stablemate Luis ‘Popeye’ Lebrón, as both are managed by Raul Pastrana and fight under the Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions (PRBBP) banner.
San Juan’s Lebrón (17-1-1, 10KOs) weighed 121 ¾ pounds for his scheduled 10-round regional junior featherweight title fight versus Mexico’s Jose Martin Estrada, who tipped the scales at 121 ½ pounds.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox