On paper, Argenis Mendez (25-3-3, 12 KOs) would certainly be considered a step up in competition for Richardson Hitchins (11-0, 5 KOs), but the unbeaten 23-year-old fighter doesn’t exactly feel that way himself.
“It’s just another fight to me,” said Hitchins in an interview with Round By Round Boxing. “You don’t have to have a belt wrapped around your waist to know that you’re on a championship level. I know that I’m one of the top guys in boxing. I’ve been in there with every type of guy, whether it’s sparring or not, I’ve been in there and I done played with world champions. I’ve been in the ring with top guys.”
Although Mendez previously held the IBF Super Featherweight title and has fought the likes of Rances Barthelemy, Robert Easter, Luke Campbell and Ivan Redkach, Hitchins doesn’t view him as top competition.
“I don’t look at him as a top guy in my eyes,” said Hitchins. “I just feel like it’s gonna be another day in the office. It’s gonna be a great learning experience and I’m just grateful that he’s giving me the opportunity to fight him and letting me have that experience and I think it’s going to be a great fight.”
Given his background and the path he’s taken in his career thus far, it’s understandable why Hitchins would feel this way. Despite only being 11 fights into his professional career, he has faced his fair share of adversity in life and he’s far from inexperienced when it comes to boxing.
Growing up in a rather rough part of Brooklyn, New York, where he says it was “regular to be fighting every day in school,” and “regular to be getting jumped,” Hitchins gravitated to the sport and once he found it, he hit the ground running. As an amateur, he competed over 40 times and, eventually, represented Haiti in the 2016 summer Olympics, which he qualified for when he was just 17 years old, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In addition, Hitchins, who’s promoted by Mayweather Promotions, has been mentored by and has worked with some of the best minds and talents in the sport, including Floyd Mayweather himself, WBA Super Featherweight titleholder Gervonta Davis, and fellow Olympian Shakur Stevenson, who he credits with helping him to “get to that next level.”
Simply put, there’s a lot more to Hitchins in terms of experience than his record suggests and that’s certainly a factor in this fight against Mendez that he feels may be overlooked.
“A lot of people don’t know that I’m real experienced on my own,” said Hitchins. “I’ve got a lot of experience and I know what I’m doing in there, so it’s not like Mendez is coming in there with a young kid that’s inexperienced or he never done this before. It’s not gonna be that. It’s gonna be a fight with a young kid with a lot of experience.”
The experience factor aside, there’s no denying that Mendez is a logical next step for the up-and-coming fighter. Even so, Hitchins doesn’t seem to be worried about the opponent in front of him and he feels as if he holds most of the advantages.
“I’m a kid with a lot of experience and I’m just a better fighter than Mendez,” said Hitchins. “Mendez has a lot of experience and he’s won a world title, but he defended it once, had a draw, and lost it right away, so I don’t even look at him like he’s a world champion.”
“When I think of Mendez, he’s a flat-footed fighter. He’s very patient. I think I have the advantages. I’ve got the arm reach, the size, the speed, the height, and just the smarts. I know I’m a smart fighter. My defense is better than his. My IQ is better than his. Looking at a few of his fights, he takes quite a beating in fights and I don’t think that he’s on that level.”
Regardless of the way in which Hitchins views Mendez, this fight is undoubtedly an important one for the Brooklyn native, as a win would push him closer towards achieving his primary goals in the sport, which include world titles and a whole lot of dollar signs.
“That [a win over Mendez] just shows my promoter that it’s time to start pushing this kid,” said Hitchins. “It’s time to start really trying to get him in there with some of the best. By next year, I should be having a belt around my waist or I should be competing for a belt. I don’t think my promotional company gotta wait too long for me to compete for a belt.”
“The belts make me want to be the best. I want to leave a stamp in boxing as one of the best boxers of this generation and I want to make a whole lot of money. I think I can be a big star. I think I’ve got all it takes to be one of the biggest stars in boxing and that I can be right up there with all of the big names. This fight is a step towards getting where I want to be in my career.”
The Super Lightweight bout between Hitchins and Mendez will serve as the co-main event of a Showtime Boxing Special Edition on Saturday night from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.