When he was younger, 41-year-old Independence resident Jason Mendoza was one of the better amateur boxers in the Kansas City area.
He was a multi-time Kansas City Golden Gloves champion and made the national Golden Glove boxing team. He retired at the age of 25, but now he’s making a comeback and will be fighting in Aug. 16 at Memorial Hall in downtown Kansas City, Kansas in his first professional boxing match.
It’s an event sponsored by JGK entertainment and will be headlined by the son of boxing legend “Sugar” Shane Mosley — Shane Mosley Jr. vs. Calvin Metcalf. The card will also feature son of former World Boxing Organization heavyweight champion and Kansas City native Tommy Morrison — Kenzie Morrison.
“I have fought all over — Reno, Nevada and trained at a facility in Elm Grove, California, right outside Sacramento,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza decided to come back to the sport because he’s been coaching his 14-year-old son Tito, who recently won a Golden Gloves championship.
“That gave me the drive,” Mendoza said of coaching Tito. “I saw him get better and better and I started taking him to gyms where the pros were at.”
From there, Mendoza decided to hop in the ring and spar with some professional boxers in the Kansas City area, and he said he was able to hold his own.
“The guys in the gym couldn’t believe it, they were shocked,” said Mendoza, who will be fighting in the 140-poound division. “I started as just as a sparring partner. But I was doing so good they said, ‘Hey, why don’t you make a comeback?’”
He even got a couple of sponsors for his upcoming fight — Shrunken Head Tattoo in Kansas City and M&H Motors in Buckner.
He’s being trained by current Kansas City firefighter and former super middleweight professional boxer Craig Cummings, who even fought for the WBO title, which is considered the top organization in professional boxing. Mendoza said he trains three times a day. On those days, he wakes up at 5 a.m. runs about four miles, eats and then goes back to sleep. Then when he wakes up again, he trains with Cummings and works on his boxing technique and spars at the Garrison Community Center. Later in the evening, he will train with his son at the Whatsoever Boxing Club.
“I can still fight. I am still a beast physically,” a confident Mendoza said. “My training is so high tech, I don’t see anyone beating me for a couple of years.”
Cummings said he’s mostly been working with Menzoda on his balance and footwork.
“If your feet aren’t right, nothing is right,” Cummings said. “Your feet have to be in the right position to counter, move, punch and protect yourself. Then everything else falls into place.”
When Mendoza competes in August, in a World Boxing Union sanctioned fight, he’ll be wearing pink to honor his friend who died from bone cancer, and he has two other friends who have throat and breast cancer.
“Everytime I fight, I am putting on a show and I am putting my heart into this,” Mendoza said. “Every fight I will wear a different color for each type of cancer. I am doing this for them.
“The only way I am going to leave the ring is with my hands raised or knocked out.”
Despite Mendoza’s layoff from competition, Cummings said he likes his chances.
“I am going to say he has about a 98 percent chance of winning,” Cummings said while chuckling. “It’s uncommon for someone who’s 41 to make his professional boxing debut. If he was just starting boxing at 41, I would laugh. But he could fight 20 years ago. It’s not like he’s starting from fresh.
“I just have to remind him of what he is doing 20 years ago.”
Mendoza said he will have to move fast with his career because of his age. He hopes to make it to the WBO as a professional after potentially winning a few fights in the WBU.
“Every other month I need to fight,” he said. “They are putting me on the fast track. I have got to get going.”
To purchase tickets for the event, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/professional-boxing-mosley-jr-vs-metcalf-tickets-61267076475.