By Carlos Costa
PANAMA CITY, Panama — WBO Minimumweight World Champion Wilfredo Méndez (15-1, 5 KO’s) of Puerto Rico is set to make his second world title defense against unbeaten Ecuadorian Pedro Villegas (12-0, 4 KO’s) on Saturday, February 8, here in Panama City, Panama.
The 23-year-old champion Wilfredo Méndez comes from defeating Mexican challenger Axel Aragón Vega (13-3-1, 8 KO’s) last October for a successful first title defense. Prior to that, the quick southpaw outpointed Filipino champ Vic Saludar (20-4, 11 KO’s) to conquer the WBO 105-pounds world strap in August of last year.
The undefeated, yet untested challenger Pedro Villegas is Wilfredo Mendez’ next foe in line.
Would the much more accomplished Wilfredo Mendez easily ravage his Ecuadorian challenger Villegas for a triumphant second defense? Or will the unassuming Pedro Villegas, 21, shock and rock Wilfredo Mendez to achieve the unthinkable?
In one of the undercard bouts, Panamanian 115-pounder Orlando “El Jaguar” Peñalba (9-0, 2 KO’s) wages the toughest fight of his life when he battles tough, more-experienced Keiver Fernández (20-0-1, 12 KO’s) of Venezuela for the vacant WBO Latino Super Flyweight Belt.
“I am very happy to return to the ring and defend my title in Panama. I am working very hard to keep my title in Puerto Rico,” said Wilfredo Méndez, the only Puerto Rican male boxing world champion today.
The card — billed as “Torneo de Campeones OMB” (Tournament of Champions WBO) — is a joint production of Puerto Rico Best Boxing Promotions in association with Panamanian promotion companies G & V Entertainment and Spartan Boxing.
In attendance during card’s presentation press conference were promoters Peter Rivera and Diego Victoria, as well as WBO President Francisco “Paco” Varcarcel.
FILIPINOS IN THE WBO 105 WORLD RANKINGS
Four Filipino fighters are currently rated in the WBO Minimumweight (105 pound) world rankings:
Former World Champion Vic Saludar (20-4, 11 KO’s) of Polomolok, Cotabato del Sur, is WBO # 2.
Unbeaten 23-year-old Robert Paradero (18-0, 12 KO’s) of Valencia City, Bukidnon is WBO # 3.
Melvin Jerusalem (15-2, 9 KO’s), 25 year-old orthodox fighter training in Cebu, is WBO # 6.
And 23-year-old Rene Mark Cuarto 18-2-2, 11 KO’s) of Zamboanga del Norte is WBO # 9.
The author Carlos Costa is a Panamanian boxing reporter living in Asia. Carlos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and whatsapp +639184538152.