By Rene Bonsubre, Jr.
Vic Saludar (19-3,10KO’s) of the Philippines will defend his WBO minimumweight world title against the mandatory challenger Wilfredo Mendez (13-1,5KO’s) of Puerto Rico. This will be another road battle for Saludar on August 24 with the fight set at the challenger’s home country.
Last February, Saludar successfully defended his title for the first time against Japanese Masataka Taniguchi by unanimous decision at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
The 28 years old Saludar took the title in Kobe,Japan last July 13, 2018 against Ryuya Yamanaka, also by unanimous decision. Saludar decked Yamanaka in round seven with a hard right hand that changed the complexion of what was a close fight in the first six rounds.
Saludar lost in his first world title attempt on New Year’s Eve 2015, when then champion Kosei Tanaka stopped him with a body shot in round six.
“Saludar has already started to train,” Promoter Kenneth Rontal told this writer. Rontal promotes Vic and his brother Froilan here in the Philippines and he heads Championship Boxing Promotions. They decided not to go through the purse bidding that was initially planned on June 27.
“Saludar’s training is going well,” Trainer Jojo Palacios told this writer, “He is very disciplined. This will be our most difficult challenge. We need to be very impressive in this fight, it will be a difficult fight but if the opportunity comes, we will go for a knockout.”
Saludar is a former mainstay of the Philippine amateur boxing team. He won a bronze medal in the light flyweight class in the 2010 Asian Games and his brother Rey won the gold in the flyweight category.
Mendez is the WBO number one contender. The 22 years old southpaw is also ranked number 11 by the IBF and number 14 by the WBA. He was initially reported early this year as an opponent for Filipino Robert Paradero for the right to face Saludar. That fight didn’t push through.
Mendez holds the regional WBO NABO belt. His only loss happened in 2018, by unanimous decision against Nicaraguan Leyman Benavides in the Dominican Republic. In his last fight, Mendez scored a split decision verdict against countryman Janiel Rivera.
Mendez aims to follow the footsteps of countrymen Alex Sanchez and Ivan Calderon who previously held the WBO 105 lb division title.
August 24 will be an exciting day for Philippine boxing; on the same date Filipino Samuel Salva is scheduled to challenge IBF minimumweight world champion DeeJay Kriel of South Africa in Metro Manila.
PHOTO – Vic Saludar
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