Paul Mendez shared his thoughts on past sparring experiences with WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, RING and WBC 168-pound champion Andre Ward, being of Mexican-African American descent, among other things in advance of his fight with Santiago Perez at Cashe Creek Casino and Resort in Brooks, Calif., on Saturday.
A 25-year-old resident of Delano, Calif., Mendez (15-2-2, 8 knockouts) is 9-0-2 with five knockouts in his past 11 fights, including 2-0-1 with two stoppage wins in his last three.
Guided by Hall of Fame promoter Don Chargin, Garcia Boxing's Kathy Garcia and Paco Damien, Mendez will face the 31-year-old Perez (12-3-2, 3 KOs) before a sellout crowd 30 minutes North of Sacramento.
"I always go in there with the expectation of it going the full distance," said Mendez of Perez, who has lost two of his past five bouts, and has not fought since May 2011, when he stopped Floyd Weaver in the second round. "If the knockout presents itself, then, you know, I will be glad to take it. But I'm ready to get the rounds in and to just work and to just look good."
RingTV.com: Are you ready?
Paul Mendez: Oh yeah, I'm more than ready. Right now, we're just maintaining my weight and keeping it low and getting ready for the weigh-in and preparing for the fight. We weigh in on Friday, and I'm cool.
I'm only a pound over, so as long as I stay right here, then I'll be fine. That's about as good as you can get, right there. We don't like to cut too much weight.
The day of the weigh-in, you want to pretty much don't do nothing. The day before, you just shake out and that's pretty much it. As long as I do that, and stick to my routine, then I should be fine.
RingTV.com: Are you ready to step up pretty soon, like Chargin has said, in the quest for a title?
PM: I leave that all up to my team, like Don and Kathy. I think that's their position. But personally, I'm ready for it. I'm ready for that next level. I believe that I'm ready to be in there with that type of competition.
I've sparred with Gennady Golovkin and with Andre Ward, and I held my own with them. We would go back and forth, so I know that I'm supposed to be in there with those types of fighters.
I'm just ready to show everybody that I am. I do think that pretty soon, they'll be ready to put me in there with somebody that is on a level where I can show that I'm ready to break through and to make a name for myself.
RingTV.com: How long ago were the sparring sessions with Golovkin and Ward?
PM: I used to spar with Dre when I used to train with Virgil Hunter, back around the time about a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago up in Oakland, Calif. We used to spar a lot, me and Dre.
Gennady, I just sparred with him not too long ago. [Last year] when he fought Matthew Macklin, and a few more fights after that. Those sessions went good, man.
I held my own, and they never got the best of me. It was good work. It was very good work. I appreciate the work with both of them, and I really am glad that they had me in their camps and that they gave me advice.
I really got a lot out of watching them work, and out of their work ethic. That stuff really rubbed off on me, and they really showed me what you have to have to make it in this sport.
You have to respect the sport of boxing and believe in yourself. I learned that from Dre and Gennady. They both respect the sport a lot, and they're gentlemen in the sport. That's a lot of what I learned from them, and I try to carry that within myself when I'm in the ring.
RingTV.com: I understand that you're African American and Mexican American?
PM: Yeah, my father is Mexican and my mother is African American. So I like to say that I'm "Blaxican." Growing up was a good experience. I was actually raised by my grandparents on that side.
I don't really know any of my Black family. I was raised, primarily, within the Mexican culture, and the Mexican background. I go to Mexico every year. So, that's what I'm used to.
RingTV.com: What do you know about your opponent, Perez and what sort of performance are you gunning for?
PM: Well, I don't know anything about my opponent. It was kind of short notice, because the other guy that I was previously supposed to fight and who called me out and mentioned my name, we tried to make that fight happen and it didn't happen.
So for this fight, you know, I always go in there with the expectation of it going the full distance. But if the knockout presents itself, then, you know, I will be glad to take it.
But I'm ready to get the rounds in and to just work and to just look good. I don't want to take any steps back from my last performance. I just want to keep on stepping forward and showing everybody that I'm supposed to be there, you know?