Wilfredo 'Bimbito' Mendez has waited more than a year for his next fight and even longer for his stateside debut.
Both were to come this weekend, only for the WBO strawweight titlist to be left without a fight altogether.
A planned title defense was taken off the table after scheduled challenger Carlos Buitrago was forced to withdraw due to an inability to safely make the 105- pound divisional limit. Buitrago was pulled from the fight, leaving Puerto Rico’s Mendez without an opponent for Saturday’s DAZN telecast from Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Representatives from Golden Boy Promotions have confirmed to BoxingScene.com that the fight is canceled altogether.
According to La Prensa in Buitrago’s native Nicaragua, the former three-time title challenger arrived in the United States earlier this week still ten pounds above the divisional limit. Efforts to cut weight in time for Friday’s weigh-in saw initial progress—shedding three pounds after his first night—only to gain weight as his body reached a point of dehydration and ultimately shutting down.
Buitrago was attempting to drop back down in weight for the first time since New Year’s Eve 2017, when he suffered an eighth-round knockout loss to then-unbeaten IBF strawweight titlist Hiroto Kyoguchi, now a junior flyweight champ. The 29-year-old from Managua, Nicaragua has since campaigned as heavy as flyweight, along with two failed bids at a junior flyweight title including a points loss to WBO 108-pound titlist Elwin Soto last October in Indio, California.
His failure to safely make strawweight leaves Mendez, 24, inactive since last February, when he scored a ninth-round knockout of Gabriel Mendoza on the road in Panama City, Panama.
The bout marked the second defense of the WBO strawweight title won by the Puerto Rican southpaw in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Vic Saludar in August 2019. The title win was part of an active stretch for Mendez, who enjoyed a four-fight campaign in 2019 and three title fights in less than six months including his win over Mendoza.
The rest of the show will move forward, headlined by a welterweight clash between local favorite and top contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. (17-0, 17KOs) and former title challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas (22-1-1, 18KOs). Also included is a trilogy bout between secondary junior lightweight titlist Roger Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20KOs) and former title claimant Rene Alvarado (32-9, 23KOs), coming just seven months after Gutierrez's thrilling unanimous decision win this past January in Dallas, Texas.
Opening the DAZN telecast, unbeaten Puerto Rican junior welterweight prospect Danielito Zorrilla (15-0, 11KOs) faces Mexico's veteran spoiler Pablo Cesar Cano (33-7-1, 23KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox