Wilfredo Mendez eager to take the Ivan Calderon challenge!
Wilfredo Mendez (16-1, 6 KOs) will make the third defense of the WBO World Minimumweight title on December 16th against Alexis Diaz (25-2, 17 KOs) at in the Dominican Republic.
The 24-year-old defending champ has a lot to carry for a man who fights in the sport’s smallest weight class. He is currently the only male champion from Puerto Rico; a nation steeped in boxing tradition.
Additionally, he happens to hold the same WBO minimumweight title previously held by countryman and long-reigning former champion Ivan Calderon. The latter is one of the greatest fighters in the history of the division and that Puerto Rico has ever produced.
A HEAVY BURDEN TO BEAR
He looks at Calderon, one of the slickest and best defensive fighters of his era, as his idol. From watching Mendez fight on film, it’s obvious he has done his homework and utilized aspects of Calderon’s style. A fellow southpaw, the champ revealed to NYFights that the former Minimumweight legend has given him one mission to accomplish.
“Ivan’s actually gave me a goal to break his title defense record. He defended his title 17 times and he wants me to defend my title 18 times. I like that he challenges me.
“It gets me motivated to go out and do things. He gives me advice on not just boxing but also the business side of things. He tells me to fight intelligently, make sure that I don’t get hit, stuff like that he tells me, and he’s someone I’m happy to call a friend.
“Hopefully one day, I can beat his challenge and defend the world title 18 times and maybe even go to the Hall of Fame. Ivan’s not there yet, but I think he will be in the Hall of Fame, hopefully soon.”
Mendez is training for his upcoming title defense in Las Vegas with trainers Yoel González and Carlos de León. His opponent is a former world title challenger and has a reputation of having power in both hands.
But at age 33 and not possessing neither the quickest hands nor feet in the world, Diaz is the considerable underdog.
With so much to bear, the little giant from Caguas, Puerto Rico, is looking to leave the Santo Domingo ring not with just the world title around his waist but also looking to make the fighter he looks up to a very proud man.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.