By John J. Raspanti:
Middleweight Paul Mendez will bring some extra motivation into the ring on July 21st when he meets 2012 Olympian Ievgen Khytrov at the Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
“In boxing you see a guy like me twenty and two, and they believe I’m a stepping stone,” Mendez told this writer via email. “I’m going to show the world on the twenty-first who Paul Mendez is and I ain’t no stepping stone.”
Mendez turned professional in 2009. He was victorious in his first two bouts, but lost his third. Learning on the job, Mendez worked with trainer, Virgil Hunter, and sparred with then-super middleweight champion, Andre Ward. A few years ago he began working with middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin.
In 2012, Mendez signed with Garcia Boxing, reeling off 13 consecutive wins. In search of bigger fights, Mendez made the difficult decision to leave the Garcia’s last year. He signed a personal contract with MT Sports, a promotional group headed up by world champion, Leo Santa Cruz.
“I want to say thanks to the Garcia family in Salinas,” Mendez said. “If it wasn’t for all their hard work, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today. My goal is to win a world title and hand that title to Max Garcia.”
Now trained by Yucca Morales, Mendez is confident he can defeat Khytrov.
"I’ve seen him fight before," Mendez said. “He fought another Bay Area friend of mine, Aron Coley, and he didn’t impress me. I know he’s a puncher, but I’m not overlooking the fact that he has a great amateur background and was an Olympian. I know he isn’t stupid in there but it ain’t my first time fighting an Olympian.
"I have a draw against (Dmitry) Chudinov that most forget. I won that fight, but due to me being the opponent they saved his record and called it a draw,"Mendez said. Mendez likes to work his jab and box, but the minute he’s hit, he goes on the offensive. He’s confident that he has what takes to hand Khytrov his first professional loss.
“The key is hit him and get hit less,” Mendez said. “At the end of the day it’s a fight and I’m not scared nor am I going to shy away from one. If he lands a good one, he better expect to fight because I’m coming back guns blazing.”
The Khytrov versus Mendez fight can be seen on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 8 p.m. Pacific, and 5 p.m. Eastern time.