SAN ANTONIO – The Alamo City has a new world champ and there are plenty of other local boxers rising in the ranks, waiting for their opportunity to win a title belt.
Holmes High school alum Kendo Castaneda has been putting in the work and patiently waiting.
Maybe too long.
That's how it feels for Castaneda, since the last time he fought was just after spring break. In late March, "Tremendo" won by unanimous decision over Eudy Bernardo at Cowboys Dance Hall, improving to 16-0 with seven knockouts. At the time, it seemed like Kendo's first bout in 2019 was just a preview of things to come this year. Then, a lack of promotion, opportunities and personal situations kept the 25-year-old super lightweight sidelined throughout the summer.
"Maybe people are scared of me, I feel like," said Castaneda to KSAT 12 Sports. "I feel like I was put on the shelf for awhile. Now I'm back on track, ready to shoot straight forward."
Castaneda's next opportunity turns out to be a big one. He's headlining a fight at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada. The eight-round super lightweight bout can be seen exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
"It's huge, it's letting me know that things are getting big. I felt confident," Castaneda said.
Castaneda will be facing Stan Martyniouk, a fighter born in Estonia but living in California. The 34-year-old Martyniouk is 20-2 with 6 KOs and hasn't lost since 2014. His last defeat, which was a split decision, came at the hands of San Antonio's Ivan Najera.
"I'm meeting a great fighter. It's going to be a great, explosive fight," Castaneda said. "I know he's hungry but I got to let him know it's time to retire. I'm 25 years old, I'm the young lion and it's time for the old bull to get out of there."
The Holmes graduate has trained in different gyms in San Antonio throughout his young career. His current job at FedEx, which he's been working at the last four years, has him working various hours but it's also helped him stay in shape.
"My training is crazy, my work ethic is crazy. I'm still working at FedEx, moving more weight than anybody in Texas. I don't think there's a package handler like me in the state of Texas. And I'm handling great business for the biggest company in the world, FedEx. And I plan on delivering just like FedEx come fight night, against Stan, 'The Man' Martyniouk, and he will become 'Stan The Fan' that's for sure."
Castaneda, who is the current NABA super lightweight champ, will have more on his mind when he enters the ring this Friday night. Over two weeks ago, he lost his uncle, 62-year-old Carlos Colorado, in a motorcycle accident.
On the morning of October 6, Colorado was riding his 1994 Honda motorcycle at the intersection of Culebra Road and Rim Rock Trail when an elderly woman, driving a 2014 Ford Focus, turned in front of him. Colorado hit his brakes and crashed into the back of the vehicle. He suffered internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
"I definitely plan to say everything for my uncle, and thinking about him, and dedicating it (the fight) to him," said Castaneda. "After the fight, on the interview, I'm going to say his name, I'm going to say, 'This is for you, Tio.' I know he's in a better place, things happen for a reason, but I know his presence will be with me. He'll be making sure the fight goes as planned."
INSIDE THE RING: @KendoTremendo is ready for Friday night's fight on @UFCFightPass. You can read more about the upcoming fight right here: https://t.co/qzruYW4I6U#boxing #boxeo #KSATsports #SanAntonio #Reno pic.twitter.com/Y8Tm2eNqSl— KSAT 12 Sports (@InstantReplaySA) October 21, 2019
The personal tragedy aside, Castaneda plans to continue his October tradition: coming out to the ring wearing a Michael Myers mask.
"When I turned professional back in 2012, I came out as Michael Myers, with the Michael Myers theme song. Still to this day, I love Michael Myers films, especially during this time of year. I've already dedicated this fight to Michael Myers because when I turned professional, I feel like I made a statement that I was coming to kill the game. Anytime I fight in October, I will be Michael Myers."
Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 Sports for over 16 years and is an award-winning sports producer. To submit story ideas, email firstname.lastname@example.org