The camp of World Boxing Organization world minimumweight champion Vic Saludar is expecting a highly charged challenger in Puerto Rican Wilfredo Mendez in their title fight on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time).
Saludar is set to make the second defense of his crown, which he won by dethroning Ryuya Yamanaka in Kobe, Japan, in July 2018.
After a successful first defense against another Japanese, Masataka Taniguchi in February in Tokyo, Saludar will once again fight in his opponent’s territory.
The Saludar-Mendez 12-round title fight will happen at Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan.
“Expected namin talagang determined si Mendez kasi sa ngayon, walang world champion ang Puerto Rico,” said chief trainer Jojo Palacios.
Bantamweight Emmanuel Rodriguez was Puerto Rico's last world champion boxer until he lost his IBF belt to Japanese knockout artist Naoya Inoue via second round knockout in Glasgow, Scotland, in May.
Incidentally, the WBO president happens to be a Puerto Rican, Paco Varcarcel, who’s been in the Philippines a few times during Pinoy Pride’s WBO title fights.
With that in mind, Palacios has been reminding Saludar not to let the judges decide his fate even though they’ve scored two decision wins behind enemy lines in their last two fights.
“Kung babagsak sa judges, make sure dapat ni Saludar na dominant siya sa first half of the fight tapos alagaan niya sa championship rounds,” Palacios said.
Saludar, 28, arrived in Puerto Rican Wednesday (Manila time) and will be tapering off in training with Fil-Am trainer Bobby Villaver.
Saludar, who holds a 19-3 win-loss slate, 10 ending by knockout, is 2-1 in world title fights, losing in his first bid via 6th round TKO against Japanese star Kosei Tanaka last December 2015.
Mendez, 22, meanwhile has an equally impressive record of 13-1, 5 via stoppage and has fought exclusively in Puerto Rican.
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