BOXING: Mendoza motivated to keep moving up the ring ranks

Abel Mendoza has never had a problem finding motivation.

In fact, it’s been one of the big keys to success in his professional career.

The featherweight boxer and West Texas native has made a strong impression in the ring, compiling a 29-0 record with 22 knockouts since making his pro debut in 2016.

Mendoza, 25, still takes time to reflect on what he’s done.

“You have to work hard,” Mendoza said. “You have to prioritize and make sure that this is what you really want to do. If it is what you want to, you have to go for it.

“I know that it’s not easy so I’m just trying to make the best of it.”

Mendoza’s father inspired the dream of becoming a top fight when Mendoza was eight years old.

He sparred and boxed with his two brothers and kept working to become the best that he could be.

His family remains one of his biggest inspirations.

“My dad was a boxer and it was his dream to be a pro boxer,” he said. “I’m happy that I’m living my dad’s dream for him and it’s a dream for me as well and I hope to keep continuing that.”

Another source of inspiration comes from his West Texas roots.

Mendoza has moved around the area several times in his life after being born in Fort Stockton and raised in Pecos.

He also spent time as a student at Odessa High before eventually graduating from Andress High School in El Paso.

“It’s awesome,” Mendoza said. “It gives more motivation because it makes me think that if I did it coming from West Texas, anyone can do it.”

Mendoza is also trying to balance his studies with his career as well.

Boxer Abel Mendoza stretches his calf muscles in the doorway of Gorilla Heavy Hitters Boxing Gym before the start of his practice Thursday, July 8, 2021 in Odessa. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

He is currently taking classes and studying kinesiology at Odessa College, adding that what he learns in the classroom carries over into the ring.

“I just have to try and make every second count and it just gives me motivation,” he said. “I don’t have as much time as other pro athletes but it also benefits me because I’m able to challenge myself mentally.”

There’s also one other motivator that Mendoza emphasizes in his training: himself.

He doesn’t like to compare himself to others and is just focused on controlling what he can in life as well as work to become better in the ring.

“I look at it like I’m fighting myself,” Mendoza said. “A lot of other pro fighters compare themselves to others and I don’t like doing that. I just try to be better than myself and I see that not only in the ring but in life.”

Mendoza also had similar advice to those wanting to follow in his footsteps.

“I would say that the kids just need to work on themselves. Don’t try to better than the other guy. You should only try be better than the person than you were yesterday because that’s what the real competition is”

The results speak for themselves for Mendoza, who has three victories in 2021 via knockout.

Abel Mendoza poses for a photo in the ring Thursday, July 8, 2021 at Gorilla Heavy Hitters Boxing Gym. (Eli Hartman|Odessa American)

At the same time, Mendoza recognizes that he’s very close to getting an opportunity on an even bigger stage.

His goal is to get an opportunity to fight for a world title in 2022 and his next chance to get closer to that goal is when he steps in the ring again on July 31.

Mendoza will be competing as part of the Warriorz on the Rez card at Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Current WBC Latino Welterweight Champion Josh Torres and former WBO title-holder super featherweight Antonio Escalante will also be fighting in the event.

“It’s like they say that pressure makes diamonds,” he said. “I know there are a lot of fighters who want to try and take the undefeated record from me. It’s pressure but it’s just more motivation.”

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