News April 2019

Mendez former trainer reveals severity of ex-champ's weight problems at 130


By @shaun_brown

It only took three days into 2014 for boxing and controversy to court one another.

Rances Barthelemy became the new IBF Super Featherweight champion thanks to a dominant two-round performance over Argenis Mendez which ended with a combination of punches landing, before and after the bell, on the dethroned titlist. Instead of moving in like a cattle prod had been shoved up his backside, referee Pete Podgorski strolled over with not a care in the world looking bemused at what had just occurred.

The ten month title reign for Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KOs) was over. For many, the result never looked in doubt. The 27-year-old Dominican offered little resistance or fight against the now (20-0, 13 KOs) Barthelemy.

An appeal is already being sought by Mendez’ team led by Mike Tyson and his fledgling promotional outfit, Iron Mike Productions. Tyson, no stranger to boxing headlines himself, said after the fight “We’re going after the rematch”. But many wonder if there will be any point. And none more so than Lee Beard, the former trainer of Mendez. For Beard, the writing has been on the wall since their last fight together against Arash Usmanee last August which ended in a draw. Beard explained the severity of Mendez’ weight issues before he entered the ring that night in Verona, New York.

“On the day of the Usmanee fight, the whole team knew he was weight drained. He never ate a single thing on the day of the fight because he kept throwing up. People don’t know this,” he said.

“Everytime food was in front of him he wanted to vomit, when he did eat he threw it back up. When he did drink water he threw it up. He didn’t recover from the weight loss. So I had a fighter who walked into the fight against Usmanee who hadn’t ate and had literally sipped a few fluids during the day. I was worried to hell because what kind of fuel would he have in his body?

“In the first 30 seconds of the first round in the Usmanee fight I told my cutman, Johnny Roye, his legs aren’t there, he’s not right. We had to switch the gameplan straight away from round one. Mendez could out-box Usmanee easily. He’s got the height, range, speed, skill but his legs weren’t there so he could not box on the move. His legs were like jelly, like he was on ice.

“After the fight he walked into the changing room and threw up. He went to hospital and he weighed 133lbs. That’s three pounds over the limit after the fight. Now in my opinion that’s not healthy. Most people try to move up when they’ve got beat. Being around him day to day it was clearly obvious he had to move up. Even Mendez said he had to move up. He got a job done with Usmanee and that was the last I saw of Mendez.”

Beard, who guided Mendez to world title glory with one of 2013’s knockouts of the year against Juan Carlos Salgado, admitted that whilst there was no hard feelings between trainer and fighter he wasn’t prepared to be a “yes man” as he lightly touched on the reasons behind the break-up.

“I never did anything wrong in the first place,” Beard insisted.

“Whatever issues have gone by, I’m stubborn, and if I’m training someone then I’m training them my way and I’m not having someone telling me how I should train somebody. Basically a few things went on after the Usmanee fight that I wasn’t happy with, things that I don’t want to go into. But one thing that has been frustrating me is that he’s been struggling at 130lbs for a long time. Everybody should be able to have their opinion and whether or not the next person agrees with that it’s not something that you should fall out about. I’ll always stress my opinion whether someone likes it or not.

“In the Usmanee fight he was weight drained and went 12 rounds against a guy who never stopped throwing punches. Mendez threw over 800 himself but in the Barthelemy fight he landed three in the first round and about seven or eight in the second round. There’s only one man for the job and it’s me. I know him. I know him physically, mentally, technically and the way he fights. There’s only one person he needs to knock back on the door to and that’s me.”

Beard isn’t holding his breath about being asked back to work with Mendez and taking over from current trainer John David Jackson. The Salford born 39-year-old has plenty on his hands with a blossoming stable of his own including his step-son Adrian Gonzalez. Beard reiterated that there is no bad feeling between himself and Mendez and seemed to feel sorry for the former champion when saying “it was a shame” to see his former student perform so dismally in Minneapolis last week.

“If you look at his resistance in the first round against Barthelemy it just wasn’t there. Every time he got touched he seemed to be shook. Mendez has got a tremendous heart, he can punch, he’s got a lot of power and physically he’s very strong but once he makes that 130lb weight he loses his power, he loses his legs.

“He got hurt in the first round with a triple left-hook which took him back to the ropes. If Mendez is walking at lightweight or light-welter then those shots wouldn’t affect him. In fact they wouldn’t have even landed on Mendez. He must’ve seen those punches coming but wasn’t reacting to them because of the weight. “

For now whether it be old ground or pastures new, Beard just wants to focus on the future. After experiencing some personal problems that would test even the strongest of men his energy is being poured into a four-man operation which he hopes will lead them all to title shots in 2014. That quartet are 22-year-old lightweight, Adrian Gonzalez (8-1, 1 KO). 20-year-old light welterweight, Jack Catterall (6-0, 3 KOs.)Former European amateur gold medallist, Joe Costello (who is yet to make his professional debut) and recent signing Jamie Cox, a 27-year-old light middleweight who boasts a (17-0, 9 KOs) record and has already held the 154lb division’s Commonwealth title.

Beard gave Livefight the lowdown on his fab four.

“Adrian had three fights last year and has got a bit of confidence going. Hopefully he’ll fight sometime in March/April again. We’ll keep him winning, at the end of the day he’s had a few years out but he’s got a bit of momentum now and confidence and that’s what it’s all about. He’s got bags of talent, he’s a strong puncher, very quick, very skilful and once we get his confidence right we can start moving him towards titles hopefully.”

“Jack Catterall is fighting on Mar 8. He's a very, very talented fighter. Great prospect. He's got a lot of momentum at the moment, very good body puncher, strong, hard working kid. He's only 20 so hopefully this year we can start moving him towards titles, look at a few different promoters and see if we can get an opportunity for him because his talent warrants that. Jack’s at that position where he’s ready to go. He's sparred some great fighters; Kell Brook, Tom Stalker, Matthew Hatton, Scott Cardle and they all know he’s very talented. We'll keep him moving forward this year and to some sort of title.

“Joe Costello, a former world number one amateur from Birmingham. European gold medallist, youngest British fighter to win a gold medal. He went 4-5 years unbeaten, did a lot of rounds with Mendez before the Usmanee fight and impressed the hell out of him. Very mature, 19 years old, very strong, very smart boxing brain, got an injury at the moment but he’ll be ready to go at the end of March/April time. Get him moving forward, make his debut. Speaking to a few promoters about him at the moment. Comes from a good boxing family, expecting big things from Joe.”

“In the last week or so I just signed Jamie Cox from Swindon, a 17-0 pro. Very talented fighter, strong, had issues with his hands in the past. Speaking to some promoters here and Stateside. Got a couple of promoters in America who are keen on him. That’s where I’m up to at the moment and it’s just a case of keeping them all busy.”

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