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Jean-Baptiste Mendy, 1963-2020

Jean-Baptiste Mendy
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Paul Wheeler pays tribute to Jean-Baptiste Mendy, a man who twice reigned as a world lightweight king

FORMER two-time world lightweight champion Jean-Baptiste Mendy sadly passed away in Paris at the end of last month (August 31). The 57-year-old Frenchman had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Born in Senegal, Mendy won the European lightweight title in 1992 – nine years after turning pro. Six successful defences followed for the versatile southpaw, leading to a shot at Miguel Angel Gonzalez’s WBC 135lb belt in 1994. Mendy, though, was stopped in five rounds.

Having previously relinquished his European strap, Mendy regained it in his first bout following the Gonzalez defeat. He notched one successful defence before having another crack at the WBC championship in 1996. A unanimous points win over Lamar Murphy saw him claim the vacant crown at the age of 33. The next year, however, Stevie Johnston took the title from him on a split decision.

In 1998, Mendy had two attempts at becoming a WBA titlist. He lost unanimously to Khalid Rahilou and failed to unseat him from the super-lightweight throne, yet fared better back down at lightweight against Orzubek Nazarov. A unanimous points victory meant that he was now a two-time world champ at 135lbs.

Mendy retained his belt by unanimously outscoring Alberto Sicurella in 1999, but then ran into Julien Lorcy, who halted him in six to take the title. After three more contests, the Parisian hung up his gloves in 2000. His final record read 55-8-3 (31) 1NC.

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