Can B Side Bad Boy Mendoza Upset Fundora?
Brian Mendoza relishes his underdog role as he squares off against Sebastian Fundora on Saturday.
Several sportsbooks have listed Fundora as a 14-1 favorite over Mendoza, despite the latter’s fifth-round knockout of Jeison Rosario that sent the former unified 154-pound world titleholder into retirement on November 5 at The Armory in Minneapolis. Mendoza floored the former unified junior middleweight world titleholder twice leading up to the emphatic finish.
Mendoza (21-2, 15 KOs), a New Mexico native based in Las Vegas, however, is up against a different kind of animal on April 6. The undefeated “Towering Inferno” Fundora (20-0-1, 13 KOs), of Coachella, California, is a 6-foot-6 southpaw who will match up against Mendoza at Dignity Health Sports Park.
The contrasting pair will meet in a scheduled 12-round main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing tripleheader.
The winner will face either undisputed junior middleweight world champion Jermell Charlo or WBO mandatory challenger Tim Tszyu. Charlo, who holds the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO 154-pound crowns, was supposed to face Tszyu on January 28 in Las Vegas, and the bout has since been twice postponed.
During a sparring session late last year in Houston, Charlo broke his left hand in two places, between the pinkie and ring finger and at the base of his thumb. Doctors subsequently ordered him to wear a cast for two months before beginning rehabilitation. It was then reported in recent days that Charlo’s recovery has not gone as well as expected, which could push Charlo-Tszyu into the fall.
Australia’s Tszyu (22-0, 16 KOs), 28, in the meanwhile, has refused to wait on Charlo. Last month, he fought Tony Harrison, the only fighter to defeat Charlo, and scored a ninth-round TKO in his native homeland. Furthermore, upon hearing the news of Charlo’s slow recovery, he announced his intentions to fight again no later than June.
Mendoza is in the same boat, albeit he’s up against a tsunami in Fundora. But as Erickson Lubin exemplified, even a smaller storm can leave a dent.
“You know, before [I fought Rosario], I said I wanted to add a former unified world champion to my resume,” Mendoza recalled during a recent virtual press conference. “And people, you know, scoffed and laughed. And I was l like, ‘All right, keep laughing.’ And it’s more about that. It’s just, you know, you don’t have to believe me; I’m gonna show just with my actions.
“And that’s what I wanna do. I wanna go out there and prove that I’m one of the best, and especially in this division. And that’s the goal, so it’s more about, you know, just proving to people. Because I know you don’t have to just believe my words, but I wanna go out and prove what I say, that I’m gonna shock the world and pull off another big upset.”
Mendoza dropped Rosario to the canvas in the second round from a left hook. And just 35 seconds into the fifth stanza, knocked him out with a vicious right uppercut.
“Even after the fight, you know, people were saying I just caught him or this and that,” Mendoza said. “But like I said, you know, people aren’t seeing the experience, you know, the little subtle tricks and subtle stuff that came into that fight. I mean, if you ask the sportsbooks, I’m still a huge, super underdog in this. So, we’re just gonna have to see. You know, it’s just another one. I’m proving myself each and every time out and, like I said, you know, the level I’m at right now, it’s just I feel like I can’t be beat.”
Mendoza was nearly written off after suffering defeats to Larry Gomez (SD 8) and Jesus Ramos (UD 12). Now the 29-year-old has won two straight bouts, both by KO, and is on the brink of putting himself back into the title picture.
“Honestly, I’m kind of enjoying this whole B-side thing,” Mendoza revealed. “It makes a victory that much sweeter. It’s gonna be another explosive upset, just like the last one. You know, people were laughing and doubting and everything, and then I went in there and proved it. And I’m gonna do the exact same thing April 8th.”