With highly deadly venom, a Cobra is known for its decisive and quick movements at the moment of an attack. For trainer Victor Godoy, his most successful pupil, Tijuana light flyweight Javier “Cobra” Mendoza, possesses the traits to carry the name.
“My trainer gave me the name,” Mendoza says with a smile as if he remembered the moment he first heard it. “He says I am very precise with my punches, like a cobra.”
The WBC #7 ranked southpaw Mendoza (15-2-1, 12KOs) is ready to show those skills this Saturday night, February 11th, when he takes on the experienced Armando “Chiquita” Vazquez (20-7, 4KOs) in the second defense of his WBC Continental Americas strap. The twelve round tilt will be the co-main event of Box Latino’s “Sangre y Patria” event slated for the Tijuana Municipal Auditorium. The bout will be televised live by Mexico’s biggest network, Televisa, as part of their weekly boxing series “Sabados de Corona“.
Mendoza, one of eight siblings, was born in the resort town of Acapulco, Guerrero, but moved to Tijuana at the tender age of three. Raised by a single mother, Javier began to work at an early age and because of an unforeseen knock out, began to take boxing seriously.
“Around twelve or thirteen years old is when I began to box. I have always worked, since I was a kid, I used to work at the super market packing up groceries,” Mendoza stated as he unwound after a spirited sparring session at his trainer’s gym in the Mirador neighborhood of Tijuana. “We used to take some gloves and fight between us kids at the market. One time I got hit very hard and I told my uncle. He asked me if I wanted to box and I told him I did.”
That fateful decision led him to the man that would teach him not only to box but who also became a father figure to the young man, “I’ve known Don Victor since I was a little kid and I came and asked him about Erik Morales’ gym. My uncle told me that he would help me out with the equipment and would take me to the Morales’ gym. Don Victor told me he would train me if I wanted to and I told him yes and that’s how we started. We began as a hobby but before you knew it, we were pretty deep into it.”
After being an auxiliary trainer for the likes of famed Tijuana trainer Jose “Olivaritos” Morales among others, Victor Godoy retired from the sport and moved north to the United States. Once he found himself back in El Mirador, he found his way back to the sport with the help from some friends.
“Principally it was by the encouragement of Javier,” Godoy says of the gym that sits above his house. “He pushed me to get back into boxing. I had retired from boxing and he came to me with the intent to box and I told him I would teach him.”
With the help of his future students, Godoy built the gym which now has been opened for over eight years.
After three months of rudimentary training, Godoy took Mendoza to his first amateur tournament and soon saw that “Cobra” had what it took to make it in the sport. “Right away you can see in a young man his determination, his determination to win. He has showed that since the beginning. He trained for three months and then he went to Ensenada and beat a young man that had been in the state tournament. Little by little we kept at it and it got to the point where there weren’t any more opponents for him in the amateurs. That is when he became the Golden Gloves champion and then we opted to go professional.”
After an impressive 31-4 amateur record and a Golden Gloves title in 2007, Mendoza went professional.
“After the Golden Gloves, ‘Olivaritos” Morales gave us the opportunity to make our debut. He said at that time that he wanted to give the opportunity to the best in the amateurs so he helped us,” Mendoza remembered. “We made our debut at flyweight and did some fights in that weight class but soon realized that the opponents were bigger, stronger so we decided to drop down to junior flyweight which is the division we fought in the amateurs.”
Mendoza took off the headgear and laced up smaller gloves the first time as a professional in September of ’07 and began his punch for bucks career with a unanimous decision over Ernesto Armenta.
Mendoza fought continuously or most of ’07 and near the end he suffered his first loss at the technical fists of Mexicali’s Manuel “Menny” Jimenez in a four rounder. Mendoza felt for the ages long trap of taking a bout with short notice and feels that if the fight had been a couple more rounds, the ending would have been very different.
“I wasn’t prepared, I don’t want to give excuses but it is the truth,” Mendoza says of the contest that took place in Tijuana. “I got notice about a week and a half before the fight and I had to drop about seventeen pounds. They told me that I would go against him and I needed the money so I took the fight. I wasn’t really in my best condition, all I did was drop the weight.”
Mendoza goes on to say that he felt that despite the short notice, he had the skills to possibly stop Jimenez if given the opportunity. “I remember that we began to boxing and I felt him very strong and with a difficult style. In the second round he landed a right to my temple and I went down. He won the first and the second but I won the third and the fourth. I was ready to knock him out but then the fight ended. I think with two more round or maybe just one, I could have beaten him and with that short of a notice. I do remember that it was a very tough fight.”
After the mishap, Mendoza went on tear with a record of 9-0 with eight wins inside the distance. During the spell, “Cobra” stopped both Ricardo “Rocky” Armenta and Rigoberto “Planchitas” Casillas in two rounds each and went on to capture in mid 2010 the vacant WBC Continental Americas light flyweight strap with a spectacular stoppage of Osvaldo “Drakys” Ibarra in a packed Tijuana Auditorium.
“Until now, it is the most important fight of my career and the one that has opened doors for me and will continue to open doors. The feeling is something that can’t be described, there is a lot of emotions,” Mendoza explained regarding his first regional title.
Javier’s joy didn’t last for long as in his very last fight, which came almost a year later in July of ’11, Mendoza again was caught unprepared and was stopped by virtual unknown Jorge Guerrero. “In that fight we gave a lot of advantage in the weight. We didn’t learn from our previous loss and we gave our opponent to many advantages. At the weigh in, I came in at light flyweight limit while he came in at almost bantamweight. We took it anyways and unfortunately we were over confident. We had a big opportunity lined up through out promoter, a TV date so we decided to take Guerrero as a ‘stay busy” fight and we lost.”
Along with the weight advantage, Mendoza credits the loss to his inactivity due to the lack of promotional back and also a finger injury that laid him out for the majority of a year. Now with Erik Morales’ Box Latino in his corner, Mendoza is confident that only good things can come in the future.
“Now we are working with ‘Pelucho” Morales and Box Latino,” Mendoza stated mentioning Diego Morales, Box Latino’s matchmaker and Erik’s younger brother. “Pelucho”, as he is known, was a champion in his own right in the super flyweight division. “Now we have been fighting more consistently. ‘Pelucho’ has mentioned there is another title opportunity in the works. We are ready for a world title, we are ranked #7 by the WBC and we think that in maybe two or three fights and we get a world title opportunity.”
First Mendoza must get past the experienced Vazquez, a fighter “Cobra” is no stranger of. “I have seen him fight and he is a tough, durable and brave fighter. He’s always going forward. He throws very good combinations, good punches and he has fought some good fighters. He is going to be a tough fighter but based in our preparation, we have what it takes to beat him. We even dare to say that we will knock him out.”
One thing you can expect from Mendoza is that he will be the first to strike, as he is known to go after his prey at the first sign of blood or of paid in his opponent.
“Fans can expect an explosive fight, a back and forth fight,” Mendoza said confidently of the scheduled twelve round sure to be war. “We are going to box him and we are going to be versatile. When we have him, we are going to knock him out. That is what I can say, we are going to knock him out.”