(This story first appeared in the Jan. 3, 2019 print edition of The Pioneer)
Abel Mendoza, a Fort Stockton native, has been active with his professional boxing career since March of 2016. His won his most recent fight at the Ector County Coliseum against Arturo Manriquez.
“Arturo Manriquez was also an undefeated fighter,” said Mendoza. “He has a lot of amateur experience and competed at nationals many times. I knew it was a big risk for me taking this fight, but these are the kinds of fights that I like. It brings out the best of me and it’s the type of fight that I learn the most from.”
Mendoza said that Manriquez weighed in 11 pounds heavier than him before the two fighters put on their gloves for the Dec. 8 fight. The fight was originally slated as a lightweight match, but with Manriquez not making weight, the boxers had to square off in a welterweight match.
“I was really surprised,” he said. “At the weigh-in he came in 11 pounds heavier than he was the day before, so we gave it until the next morning to make the correct weight, and he still weighed the same. We talked; a lot had already been done and we put in so much work in, so we agreed to terms for him to be fined out of his purse.”
Mendoza said he had some nerves stepping into the ring with Manriquez. The fight was originally supposed to be eight rounds, but due to Manriquez not making agreed weight, the fight was cut in half to only four rounds.
“I was very nervous knowing he was bigger and very experienced,” he said. “I had so much to lose, but when I saw the crowd cheering for me and walked closer to that ring, I knew it was time to shine. I won all the rounds by unanimous decision. If he didn’t have such a big weight advantage, we would have knocked him out, but what’s important is that we got the victory.”
Speaking on what’s next for his boxing career, he said, “I have big things coming for next year; I’ll most likely be fighting on national television (ESPN and ESPN +) and hopefully fight again here in West Texas. I’m very happy to have the support here in West Texas – that's what motivates me the most. I want to bring a world title back home and make sure the world knows about West Texas.”