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18 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz

Cleotis "Mookie" Pendarvis - "Now More Than Ever"

Sparring. It’s often what can make or break a fighter’s camp and furthermore could ultimately decide their respective fates inside the ring. It can often take a distant second to roadwork, hitting the mitts and pounding away on the heavy bag. The reverse image of such endeavours would of course be the one supporting the bag or more to the point - the sparring partner.


The oftentimes-missed individual is an all too important cog in developing a boxer’s arsenal. For Los Angeles native Cleotis "Mookie" Pendarvis, a life behind the scenes combined with a view from the other side of the fence has been well worth its weight and hopefully now, worth the wait.

Mookie (17(6)-3(1)-2) will be part of the featured event tomorrow (Friday, May 11) night in an IBF Light Welterweight title eliminator when he takes on the unbeaten Canadian (via Haiti) Dierry Jean (24(16)-0) at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Oklahoma. The property is part of the Peoria Nation and is located in the far northeastern corner of the Sooner State. The bout will be televised live in the United States as part of Showtime’s "ShoBox: The Next Generation" (11PM ET/PT).

Pendarvis was kind enough to share a few minutes with this reporter a few weeks ago for an exclusive SecondsOut interview. As previously mentioned, Mookie has put in his time in the gym so that other fighters; many of them famous could prosper. He can just about boast a "who’s who" type of resume in this regard.

"I have been in there with just about anyone you can came from 135 (pounds) up to 154. Everyone except (Floyd) Mayweather, (Manny) Pacquiao and (Juan Manuel) Marquez.", said Pendarvis.

His opponent tomorrow evening is unbeaten and holds what some may consider to be an untested resume, yet Mookie is wise enough not to overlook his antagonist from Quebec. Said Cleotis, "I have watched some film on him, but I honestly don’t think that he has what it takes to beat me. If you look at his record, then it basically speaks for itself."

For some, it’s music and for others it’s sports in terms of a way out or at least a break from the rough and tumble life of the inner city. The 26 year old Pendarvis may have seen more in his life than many will care to see in their entire lifetimes. It is this knowledge of the tenderness and fragility of one’s time on earth, which drives and inspires him to dreams of greatness. 

"I have been through so much and I have seen it all and I’m only 26. I’ve lost friends and family to the streets. That’s why I know that I have to live everyday to the absolute fullest. Any day could easily be your last."

In addition to ten titles won as an amateur, the fighter from southern California was quite the multi-sport athlete as a young man. He’s always called the City of Angels his home.

"I have lived here all of my life", the IBF contender commented. "I played all sorts of sports. I ran track and my team won championships in high school, but what I loved most was basketball. I averaged maybe thirteen or fourteen points (per game), but what I loved to do was dish out assists. I laid out the dimes."

High altitudes are usually no friend to an unaccustomed athlete, such as the case might possibly be for "Mookie" Pendarivs, yet the man who is just one victory short of a world title shot seemed very comfortable last month when he said, "I am training up in the mountains right now and it’s not a problem for me at all because I have been here so many times for fight camps for Shane Mosley and others."

As tomorrow night approaches, Cleotis Pendarvis has his eyes on the prize yet refuses to let them in any fashion divert from the moment. Should "Mookie" gain a victory at the Buffalo Run casino, then he would be next in line for a chance to fight for the IBF light welterweight title and he may already have some possible opponents in mind. 

"I can easily see myself as the IBF light welterweight champion of the world. If it’s not (Lamont) Peterson, then maybe it can be (Amir) Khan. I heard Peterson may be moving up to 147."

In any case and in all likelihood, the man they call "Mookie" will always hold and forever remember the view from the other side of the fence (or gloves). He’s been happy to help over the years, only now he is ready to take what he feels to be rightfully his own. Patience has paid off and such experiences such as his have allowed him to remain firmly planted. 

"I am just like everyone else. I want people to know that I’m a humble individual."


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