Having gone 3-O since turning pro from his base in Oklahoma City earlier this year, the native of Tallaght had to give best against an unbeaten opponent with vastly more amateur experience.
“Mendoza was a very good fighter, but I felt I did enough to win the first round,” Fagan said later. “In the second, I began to swell around the face from an accidental head-butt to the nose, so from then on, although I was still coming forward, I hadn’t the vision to be as accurate as I’d have liked. He worked the body very well and I could safely say that his amateur experience served him really well in comparison to my lack thereof.
“I felt on the night he was the more skillful boxer. I was upset that the fight was stopped, though, as I had been the aggressor all through the fight. He landed a nice combination of body punches and just as I was about to try a flurry of my own, the ref came in and stopped it. I was very disappointed with the decision. It’s back to the gym for me tomorrow to work on some stuff.”
The first setback of his fledgling career is unlikely to deter Fagan, who has taken a circuitous route to the pro ranks. At the age of 24, he arrived at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in 1998 on a full soccer scholarship. Having graduated with a degree in physical education and political journalism last year, he began sparring at a local gym in his spare time. He’d boxed briefly as an amateur and Buck Smith, owner of the gym, saw enough of a spark to encourage him to try punching for pay.
On his debut last February, he stopped Sheldon Mosely in the fourth and his all-action style has already drawn critical plaudits. Even in defeat last Friday night, Fightnews.com journalist Bobby Dobbs wrote in his report that Fagan “has a chin and heart the size of the island from which he hails.”