Brian Mendoza, left, a Cleveland High School graduate who lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada, is shown here during his August 2020 victory by unanimous decision over Thomas LaManna. Saturday, coming off a loss in his most recent fight, Mendoza will seek to bounce back against Texan Benjamin Whitaker. (Journal screenshot)
After suffering a loss and a career setback in his last fight, Brian Mendoza on Saturday will seek to use Benjamin Whitaker as a stepping stone to greater opportunities.
Of course, fighting on Saturday’s Showtime card in Minneapolis, even in an off-TV bout, is an opportunity in itself.
Mendoza (19-2, 13 KOs), a Rio Ranchoan who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada, is scheduled to face Whitaker (15-7, three KOs) in an eight-round junior-middleweight bout on a card headlined by a WBO Global junior middleweight title fight between Australia’s Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) and Cleveland’s Terrell Gausha (22-2-1, 11 KOs).
The Mendoza-Whitaker bout is not scheduled to make the Showtime telecast. But for Mendoza, having lost by lopsided decision on Sept. 5 in a nationally televised (Fox) main event to then- and still-unbeaten Jesús Alejandro Ramos, a victory over the light-hitting but ring-tested Whitaker could help redirect the Cleveland High School graduate’s career path.
“Expect violence,” Mendoza posted on Facebook.
Mendoza weighed in on Friday at 153.6 pounds, safely under the 154-pound junior-middleweight limit. Whitaker, of San Antonio, Texas, weighed in at 152.4 pounds.
HAN: Jennifer Han lives in El Paso, but she’s no stranger to the New Mexico side of I-10. She has worked for years with Las Cruces trainer Louie Burke.
It was recently announced that, with Burke in her corner, she’s getting another world title shot.
Han (18-4-1, one KO) is scheduled to face Mikaela Mayer (16-0, five KOs) on April 9 in Costa Mesa, California, with Mayer’s WBO and IBF super featherweight (130-pound) titles at stake.
This opportunity comes to Han after her loss by lopsided unanimous decision to Ireland’s Katy Taylor in Leeds, England in a bout for all four widely recognized versions of the world lightweight (135-pound title).
Han is a world champion in her own right, having defeated Helen Joseph in September 2015 for the IBF (126-pound) featherweight title at the Don Haskins Center in El Paso. Han successfully defended the title four times before moving up in weight.
Mayer, a California native who lives and trains in Colorado Springs, is a 2016 US Olympian and was one of the country’s most decorated amateur boxers before turning pro in 2017.
CATCHING UP: On March 12 at the Pan American Center in Las Cruces, hometown boxer Amy Salinas avenged the only loss of her young pro career with a victory by unanimous decision over Dallas’ Indeya Smith in a super flyweight fight..
Salinas (4-1, no KOs) had lost to Smith (2-5-2, one KO) by split decision last October at the same venue.
All three judges scored the six-round fight 59-55 for Salinas.
“I felt strong and I was better prepared,” Salinas told the El Paso Times. “My plan in this fight was good and I executed it. I was much sharper in this fight and was more accurate throughout the six rounds.
In a four-round bout on Hobbs promoter Isidro Castillo’s card, former El Paso amateur star Victor Aranda made a successful pro debut with a victory by fourth-round TKO over Las Cruces’ Garrett Lopez (pro debut).