Former International Boxing Association middleweight champion Paul Mendez of Salinas, Calif., has signed a multi-year agreement with International Championship Boxing, promoter of the revolutionary and exciting new combat sport that features boxing in a cage.
“Our first former world champion has joined ICB, and I have every confidence he won’t be the last,” says Jack Fulton, founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia-based ICB.
The 29-year-old, 6-foot-1-inch Mendez has a record of 19-3-2 with nine knockouts, including a mark of 12-1-1 for his past 14 bouts.
Mendez, nicknamed “El Gallo Negro” (“The Black Rooster”), won the IBA middleweight championship during 2015 by beating Ernesto Berrospe on a card co-promoted by the late, great Don Chargin, acknowledged industry-wide as one of the best judges of boxing talent ever.
“I am gratified by the number of boxers, mixed martial artists and kickboxers who are reaching out to us,” says Fulton.
“And it’s not just boxers and fighters from North America,” says Fulton. “We’re getting calls and emails from fighters in Europe and Asia who are eager to compete in the ICB.“
Mendez was never dethroned; instead, he retired during 2016 in order to spend time during the early formative years of his baby daughter, named Love.
“I wanted to be around my daughter at the beginning,” says Mendez. “But she’s three now, and I’m entering my prime years.”
And Mendez learned an important lesson, thanks to his daughter.
“She’s my driving force, my passion,” says Mendez. “So I had to learn to be an adult with adult responsibilities. Thanks to my daughter I’ve grown as a man and I’ve grown in the boxing process.
“I’ve been boxing since I was 10 and it’s always been a game to me, a sport, not a job,” says Mendez. “But now that I have a daughter I think of boxing as a business; it’s a serious work.
“I’ve sparred with ‘3G’ (Gennady Golovkin) several times,” says Mendez, “and he says, ‘Boxing is not a game.’ When I sparred with Andre Ward he always said to be ruthless in the ring.
I’m not scared or nervous of anyone,” says Mendez. “I don’t care if it’s King Kong. I’m ready to fight anyone, and now I’ll do it in the cage.
“When ICB came along I immediately saw it was a good fit for me,” says Mendez. “I’m a fighter, not a pitty-pat, and when I impose my size on opponents, this will be perfect for me.
“This is an opportunity for a fighter like me,” says Mendez. “I can and will use this as a platform to grow. I’m excited about it.”
Mendez offers specifics why the ICB cage, a 24-foot hexagon trademarked “The Fight Zone,” is to his liking.
“Six corners, not just four, is to my advantage,” says Mendez. “There’s more places to trap people. The ‘Fight Zone’ is all about angles and cutting off the cage.”
It took Fulton almost two years to get the cage designed, built, patented and approved by boxing and athletic commissions within the United States, including the state of Nevada.
An 18-year veteran promoter of the sport, Fulton, through the years, began to realize the sport needed something new, something fresh. And in 2016 he did something about it.
“The Fight Zone” has red and blue entry points with two opposing neutral corners. Boxers compete under Association of Boxing Commissions rules: no clinching, no grappling and no kicking allowed.