Roberto Vasquez vs. Beibis Mendoza

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2005-04-29 : Roberto Vasquez 108 lbs beat Beibis Mendoza 108 lbs by KO at 2:03 in round 10 of 12

  • Vacant WBA Light Flyweight Title
  • Time: 2:03
  • Weights: both 108

Vasquez KOs Mendoza for WBA title!

April 30, 2005 By Christian Giudice

Thousands of Panamanians got their wish Friday night as they watched their new hero Roberto "Arana" Vasquez knock out Colombia's Beibis Mendoza at 2:03 of the 10th round to win the vacant WBA Light Flyweight crown. After coming into the ring with his late father's photo held toward the rafters, Vasquez went out and fought as if defending his honor. His father, Carlos Vasquez, would not be there to see it, but he would know, somehow. All his life, Vasquez wanted to retrieve his family from despair, and to prove that he belonged. To accentuate his point, the light flyweight champ took a piece from each of the previous 21 champions before him and etched a portrait of what is to come. Along the way, he treated each punch, each move, as a new response to all of the people who had doubted him.

They said he couldn't box.

So, in the first round, Vasquez squatted down, called upon Hilario "Bujia" Zapata, and dodged punches with awkward head movement. As if right back in Barrazza Gym ducking under the raquetball thrown directly at his head by Pellin Avila, Vasquez moved away from the looping punches and showed off his technical skills. However, Mendoza, the veteran, decided to counter the skillful boxer with craftiness. Instead of throwing a barrage of punches, the Colombian waited for the opportune time to drop in his signature straight right. That punch alone would paint bruises on Arana's face over the next nine rounds. On various occasions, they would trade punches in the middle of the ring. Nevertheless, the round finally ended with Vasquez glaring through his mouthpiece, calling to Mendoza, "Is that all you have for me?"

They said he would be too courageous in battle.

In the early minutes of each round, the cautious Vasquez tried to establish a Ismael Laguna jab, but lacked the patience to keep the fight in the middle of the ring, as Ernesto Marcel once did. Instead, he often gave into the temptation, of all brawlers like Eusebio Pedroza, to trade punch for punch. And while his sharp combinations landed often in the second and third rounds, Mendoza brushed them off, and plodded forward. Blessed in the superlatives allotted to tough Latin fighters, Mendoza forced Vasquez to walk into a series of straight right hands, each one a syringe sucking the energy from his opponent's body. One could feel the bump that was forming under Vasquez's right eye.

They said he couldn't commit and stick to his gameplan to box.

And if there was ever a time for Panamanians to be alarmed, another dream postponed, it was in the 4th and 5th rounds. Vasquez had abandoned his jab, and although he had landed a right cross to start the 5th, he was continually leaving himself defenseless and off-balance after attacking. Maybe another fighter wouldn't have capitalized, but Mendoza, the intelligent contregolpe, understood the ramifications. I will take what he gives me, Mendoza told himself. So he cut off the ring, nudged Vasquez into corners, and suffocated him with his go-to right hands. Trapped in the corner against the ropes, Vasquez, who had known despair outside the ring, could also recognize it now inside the ring. Everything he had learned was being taken from him piece by piece. If it was true that experience defies youth, then Mendoza was the professor through the middle rounds.

They didn't believe in comebacks.

It was almost as if watching the slow death of a fighter, then his rebirth in the sixth round. And as a near-blind Vasquez was oblivious to straight rights, and less conscious of left hooks, something occurred. Whether it was the thought of his father, his family, a revelation, whatever stirred him, made him stronger, like Roberto Duran. And as the crowd chanted his name, the wounded fighter began to heal. After throwing the best combination of the round, with the speed of Cieguito Rios, Vasquez rallied. Unchartered territory to that point, Vasquez located a conventional right hook to the body. Neither fighter had even considered the consequences of a body punch until Vasquez introduced the idea of one in the 7th round. In the round, Mendoza hit the canvas, not from a punch, but a slip. Yet, in what had to rank as one of the most influential, exciting rounds in recent Panamanian history, Vasquez bounced a hurt Mendoza across the ring, pushed him against the rope and began to restore faith in the people who were now climbing on top of tables.

They didn't feel he had faced real competition.

And Mendoza wasn't just any fighter. After receiving a six-punch flurry entering the 8th round, Mendoza used his instincts to conserve the energy he lost in the previous round and became the predator once again. Whoever lost the fight couldn't blame conditioning, for each fighter had masterfully prepared himself. It was as if Mendoza was robotic in his ability to accept punishment, then replenish what he'd lost. By the end of the 8th, he was walking Vasquez down again. But a round later, he had changed his course. Judging by Vasquez's slightly deformed features, which included a slit lip, an egg on top of his right eye, another one under his left, one might have called him a broken fighter. Yet, he started jamming his jab in Mendoza's face, right to the body, and had him shaken with a right cross to end the 9th round.

They already had 21 champions, and some wondered if they would ever reach 22.

All the emotions from sorrow to utter euphoria bottled up inside Vasquez came pouring out in the first two minutes of the 10th and final round. As Mendoza plodded forward, the only direction in which he seemed to travel, he ran into a right hook to the body and crumpled to the canvas.

Back up by the count of eight, Mendoza managed get back on the offensive and spin Vasquez back into the ropes. Seconds later, from what appeared to be a left hook, Mendoza was back down again for the second time. And although he had arisen by the 10-count, referee Luis Carlos Pavon had waved it off.

Next to Al Brown, Laguna, Frazer, Duran, Pinder, Marcel, Rios, Lopez, Riasco, Ortega, Lujan, Pedroza, Ibarra, Zapata, Rafael Pedroza, Layne, Cordoba, Muriillo, Martinez, Alcazar, and Samaniego, number twenty-two etched his name. Before climbing into the ring on Friday, Vasquez thought about what his father told him many times before, "No one expects you to be here. All the people were down on you, now show them." Then, he went in and boxed as if every word was imprinted on his mind. Every step, every motion as a means to and end. That end, now as WBA Light Flyweight champion of the world, leads to his father´s grave. He used Beibis Mendoza as a pawn to arrive there. That is where he will bring the title belt to rest. Now he can show the one man he had been yearning to make proud all his life, that what he created with his fists was theirs to share, forever.

Undercard Results Before the main event, world-ranked Cartagena`s Oscar Leon (28-4, 19 KOs) dropped Jairo Tagliaferro twice with straight lefts in the third round, the latter of which he never recovered. With the technical-knockout at 2:50 of the third round, Leon won the WBC/WBO Latino Featherweight titles. As soon as the second knockdown occurred, referee Gustavo Padia rushed to the battered Tagliaferro (12-2, 9 KOs) and quickly waved off the bout. There were several knockouts that had a similar effect throughout the long evening. With the exception of the headliner, Chiriqui featherweight Roynet Caballero (11-0-1, 6 KOs) put on the most entertaining show. Using an exciting bull-rushing style, Caballero chopped down the taller, more polished Colombian Feider Viloria. In the 5th round, Caballero stuck his head in Viloria's chest and, with little fear for his own safety, pounded out 15-20 pinball shots, until Viloria (11-1, 6 KOs) fell to the canvas. The fight set the tone for the rest of the evening as Caballero stopped Viloria by TKO at 1:23 of the 5th round. Bugaba native William "The White Hope" Gonzalez earned a tough 8-round unanimous decision over Colombia's Miguel Angel Suarez. After dropping Suarez in the first round, and dominating the early rounds, Gonzalez, now 17-1, with 5 KOs, allowed the Colombian back into the fight as he tired in the latter rounds. The scores read 77-75 twice, and 78-76, all in favor of Gonzalez. While Gonzalez fared well, his countryman Edwin Diaz (7-6, 3 KOs) watched as his fight was stopped prior to the start of the sixth round. Due to a headbutt by Diaz, Cartagena's Wilfrido Valdez was ruled physically unable to continue and the fight went to the scorecards. Valdez (21-1-2, 16 KOs) won by majority decision and captured the WBC Latino Minimumweight crown. In other bouts, Barranquilla's Epifanio Mendoza (22-3, 20 KOs) retained the WBC Latino Middleweight crown by TKO over Darisnel Vergara (5-6, 3 KOs) at 2:05 of the 2nd round. A huge right hand sent Vergara rolling over in the middle of the ring, and he couldn't recover. Young Puerto Rican prospect Jonathan Oquendo improved to 4-0 with a 4-round unanimous decision over Panama's Alexander Alonso. Alonso fell to 5-9 with the loss. Olympic silver medalist Carlos Tamara stopped Ivan Gallardo at 1:16 of the 1st round in junior flyweight action to stay undefeated in only his second pro bout. In a scary moment, welterweight Jose Arosemena dropped to the canvas compliments of a right hand in the first round by Charlie Navarro and appeared to be in bad condition. Despite losing the bout by 1st-round knockout, Arosemena reached his feet and walked out without assistance.