By all accounts, rising middleweight Paul “El Gallo Negro” Mendez (15-2, 7 KOs) scored the most impressive victory of his young career last month when he stopped Raul Casarez in less than three rounds at the Salinas Storm House in Salinas, California.
The victory was the ninth in a row for the twenty-five-year old boxer from Delano, California.
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 super middleweight champion Andre Ward. Mendez had talent, but was raw and undisciplined. He needed a manger, but the Northern California boxing scene can be slow and uninspiring.
After a disputed draw with undefeated Russian fighter Dmitry Chudinov two years ago, Mendez got the career break he needed. Kathy Garcia, of Garcia Boxing, signed him to a managerial contract.
Mendez, now living in the Garcia home in Salinas, began working with trainers Max and Sam Garcia. The change had an immediate impact.
With a new team in his corner, Mendez won by decision over Leshon Sims in July 2012. He followed up that victory by scoring three consecutive knockouts. Mendez fought four times last year. His only blemish was a draw against Louis Rose.
Mendez returns to the squared circle next month at the Cache Creek Casino in Brooks, Calif., against an opponent to be determined. For the past four weeks, he’s been training in Big Bear, Calif., and getting tips from future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley.
“Big Bear is going great,” Mendez told doghouseboxing.com. “There’s nothing else to do but think of boxing. No distractions, just focusing on what I need to do. I always learn a lot anywhere we train. My trainer Max is always teaching me something new.
“Also, Sugar Shane Mosley is up here giving me some pointers,” said Mendez.
Mendez is proud of his recent knockout victory, but chooses to look at the win in a more pragmatic way.
“My knockout over Raul (Casarez) was just a product of listening to my corner, “Mendez said. “It’s as simple as that.”
The aforementioned draw against Rose was extremely disappointing for Mendez. He looked sluggish that night and unprepared. After accepting the outcome, he rededicated himself.
“It wasn't so much that I struggled with him (Rose) - I struggled with myself,” said the always-forthright Mendez. “I didn't make weight properly that time, and it showed in the fight. I wasn't mobile at all and had nothing behind my punches.”
Mendez likes to stay active, as his 10 fights over the past two years indicate.
“Well, I prefer to fight as much as possible,” Mendez said. “The more fights I have, the quicker I become recognized. I’m looking for that major opportunity on a bigger network.”