Manuel “La Tormenta” Mendez (14-1-2, 10 KOs) body punched his way to another knockout victory during the “Night of Champions” main event on Saturday night.
Mendez’s latest victim, Costa Rica’s Bergman Aguilar (14-3-1, 4 KOs), crumpled to the ground in the third round after sustaining a thunderous left hook to the ribs.
“Body shots are my bread and butter,” said Mendez, who is trained by Joel Diaz. “In the third, I was able to get inside and really do some damage.”
In the first round, Aguilar was the busier of the two, but the tide turned in rounds two and three when Mendez began forcing his way into the pocket and connecting on numerous body shots.
For a fighter with a host of knockouts on his resume, Mendez actually exercises excellent patience in wearing down opponents and striking at the most opportune time. He never looks rushed and always appears to know how the fight will develop.
“I like to take my time in the first few rounds to see what I’m working with,” said Mendez. “By the third, I already knew how to attack.”
In the co-feature, Juan Reyes (14-3-3, 2 KOs) of Riverside, Calif. applied his routine, constant pressure to thwart veteran Miguel Angel Mendoza (23-11-2) of Mexico.
Reyes, who recently made the jump to junior lightweight from featherweight, found his rhythm early with strong body shots and counter left hooks.
Mendoza was more than willing to return throughout their eight round fight, but Reyes found pay dirt on a more consistent basis. The judges awarded Reyes a unanimous decision victory with scores 78-74 twice, 79-73.
“After a few rounds, I could tell he was getting tired,” Reyes said. “I knew if I was first to the punch I would have a great shot at winning. I just kept the pressure and got the win.”
The second fight of the night featured a heavyweight rematch between Jonathan Rice (6-2-1, 4 KOs) of Los Angeles and Mario Heredia (14-7, 12 KOs) of Mexico. Rice got the better of Heredia in their first encounter in November. Rice knocked down Heredia three times on his way to a fifth round knockout victory.
The sequel would not end any different for Heredia. Rice downed Heredia once in the second and twice in the third. The second drop in the third round was the final shot Heredia would absorb. The referee waived the fight off at the 2:02 mark.
In the “Night of Champions” 4-round opener, Jose Salinas (1-0, 1 KO) of Indio, Calif. was victorious in his professional debut over Johnny Black (3-5, 2 KOs) of Las Vegas, Nev.
The junior lightweight dropped Black early in the first round with a left hook. Salinas, a southpaw, continued his attack by punching Black into a corner. From there, he let his hands go, connecting on a handful of punches before the referee stopped the barrage at the 2:37 mark of the opening round.