Manuel Mendez to face Mohamed Rodriguez on Friday night

By Francisco Salazar

Manuel Mendez understands knockouts are what sell in the fight game. In his opinion, however, knockouts only go so far and improving his skill-set is what will be the key to a long and successful career.

Mendez hopes to display either one Friday night when he faces Mohamed Rodriguez in an eight-round junior welterweight bout at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California.

The fight is part of a six-bout “Path to Glory” card and will be streamed in its entirety at ThompsonBoxing.com (10:45 p.m. ET/ 7:45 p.m. PT).

Mendez (15-1-2, with 11 knockouts) is unbeaten since losing his pro debut in October of 2010. He fought under the radar in Mexico and the United States until September of 2015, when he knocked out unbeaten prospect and 2012 Olympian Cesar Villarraga.

His most impressive win to date came on November 4, when he knocked out Vitor Jones Freitas, the nephew of former junior lightweight titleholder Acelino Freitas. The fight aired live on Showtime on a “ShoBox” telecast.

Southern California boxing fans and scribes who cover the sport, have grown accustomed to Mendez’s punching power. Mendez’s last six victories have come by way of knockout.

“I plan to reward the fans with a great fight,” said Mendez, who lives and trains in Indio, California. “Boxing is a spectator sport and I know what the fans want to see. I think fans understand the type of fighter that I am. Once they see me my name on (a fight) card, they know what they’re going to get.”

Mendez faces a fighter in Rodriguez (9-4, 3 KOs), who is 2-2 in his last four bouts.

The 26-year-old Mendez has studied Rodriguez through video and plans to execute a game plan Friday night.

“Rodriguez likes to move around a lot, so I know I’ll have to cut off the ring,” said Mendez. “The plan is to make him fight my style. If I can get him to trade, that’s going to be a losing fight for him. That’s where I’m at my best.”

Mendez has been at his best since working with trainer Joel Diaz for over two years. Not only has he improved under Diaz but he has gotten quality sparring against Ruslan Provodnikov.

Mendez may appeal to the fight fans who want to see knockouts but he knows fine-tuning his skill-set will prolong his career and put him in better positions to win.

“I’ve been more focused on trying to control the fight mentally. Once I have him frustrated, then I can make every punch count. I don’t need to throw a lot of punches to be effective. I want to be efficient with my shots.”

In the eight-round co-feature, junior welterweight Jessie Roman (21-3, 10 KOs) will square off against Erick Martinez (13-7-1, 7 KOs).

Fringe featherweight contender Rafael Rivera (24-0-2, 15 KOs) will face Ruben Tamayo (26-9-4, 18 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

Undefeated Sergey Kuzmin (10-0, 7 KOs) and Malcolm Tann (24-4, 13 KOs) will square off in an eight-round heavyweight bout. Kuzmin is managed by Vadim Kornilov.

Hard-hitting junior lightweight Michael Dutchover (4-0, 4 KOs) will face Miguel Carrizoza (10-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout.

Junior bantamweight Saul Sanchez (2-0, 1 KO) faces Christian Bartolini (2-3, 2 KOs) in a four-round bout.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.

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