One of boxing's most exciting young fighters puts his undefeated record on the line against the dangerous Brian Mendoza Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Sebastian Fundora knows his world championship title shot is going to arrive eventually.
In the meantime, Fundora waits and trains, trains and waits, and carries the patience of someone twice his age, encased by a vast wisdom that belies his youth.
At 6-foot-5½, 154 pounds, and with the wingspan of a Boeing 737, the 25-year-old southpaw from Coachella, California, has always been an anomaly. His physical dimensions once made him unusual and what the boxing world has found these last few years is that he possesses singular skills to go along with them.
On Saturday night, “The Towering Inferno” will defend his Interim WBC Super Welterweight Title against rising 29-year-old contender Brian Mendoza in a Premier Boxing Champions main event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from the Dignity Health Sports Park, in Carson, California.
This will be the first fight for Fundora (20-0-1, 13 KOs) in what could be a banner year for the budding superstar. He’s coming off consecutive victories over Erickson Lubin last April, in PBC’s 2022 Fight of the Year, and closed 2022 with a dominant October victory over Carlos Ocampo. Mendoza (21-2, 15 KOs) is getting this chance because of the way he dispensed of former unified welterweight world champion Jeison Rosario in five rounds last November.
“Mendoza looked pretty strong against Rosario, but we’re ready for anything he brings,” Fundora said. “I didn’t watch the fight. I watched the highlights of him dropping Rosario twice. Everything is good. I’ve been walking around these last few weeks at around 158, 159 pounds.”
Fundora is a world champion. He’s looking for a big name on his resume to verify it.
“My father and my coach (Freddy Fundora Sr.) help me maintain my patience,” Fundora said. “If I ever do feel like I’m going crazy about weight, or losing my patience, my father is always there to remind me that we’re in a good place and everything happens for a reason. Our time will come. It’s as simple as that. I want to continue fighting and giving the fans what they want, and if we can, hopefully, we can get a title fight.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life. The second I get out of line, my father or my sister (Gabriela) will remind what we’re doing here.”
What Fundora does is put on exciting fights. He can’t help himself. Despite his distinct advantages in reach and length, “The Towering Inferno” has a tendency not to back down from a firefight—even when he’s up and he knows it.
His benchmark victory over Lubin still looms. He had Lubin seriously hurt and down in the second round, and then admittedly got a little careless when he was knocked down for the first time in his career in the seventh. Fundora said he gained a great deal of maturity from that fight. He said he learned that he doesn’t have to put his foot down on the gas every second of every round, that he’ll allow the flow of the fight to come more organically to him than push it.
“ People are going to see fireworks on Saturday night, as always. ” Undefeated WBC Interim Super Welterweight World Champion - Sebastian Fundora
But Fundora must balance that with his innate proclivity to fight—and to avoid fighting inside when he doesn’t have to. It’s what makes him one of the world’s most exciting fighters today. Fundora can easily win many fights staying on the outside using his considerable reach and distance. Though when punches are thrown, and he’s even tapped, it seems to trigger something within him.
His razor sharp teeth appear.
“Me and my dad talk about that (Lubin) fight all of the time,” Sebastian said. “My dad always tells me that I had Lubin hurt in the second round. We saw him hurt. He was leaning on me ready to go down. Then, I dropped him. That fight was an example of where sometimes I don’t have to take on too much punishment. We could have gotten the job done a little faster. Everything happens for a reason and I’m learning and maturing, knowing when to take damage, whether it’s exciting or not.
“That’s what I take from that. I feel like, yeah, sometimes it is (instinctive to get into firefights). But then there are moments when I’m fighting like that (inside), and I feel like I can get away with a lot more when I’m fighting inside. I feel I can hit more. Yeah, I might get hit more, but I’m going to land these harder punches and I’m going to get the job done. That’s how I feel. I feel a lot more comfortable fighting on the inside. That’s just me.”
Fundora is known by the boxing public. His brand promises to grow as the stage grows and general sports fans get introduced to his easygoing, approachable demeanor.
“I think the way we’re going is pretty good,” Fundora said. “I guess people need to tune in a little more. We need to put on more exciting fights. Put us in with people that are going to make exciting fights. Lubin was a top contender. That made for a great fight. We have all of these other names in the division, like [Brian] Castano, or [undisputed 154-pound world champion Jermell] Charlo, to make these great fights. I just need a good dancing partner.
“We’ll see what the future holds for us, because they’re going to have to fight us, or step out of the way. That’s my attitude: they are going to have to fight us. The goal is to keep winning. I’m trying to fight as many times as possible (in 2023). I’m always ready to go. It is up to TV, honestly. I wouldn’t mind fighting every-other-month. Depending how the fight is, I would definitely do it. There are superstars who don’t care for the sport. They look at this more as a job. Once you start thinking of this as a job, you might as well not even do it anymore. That’s my take on this because if you get hurt for something that’s just a job, it’s not worth it.”
What is worth it is watching Fundora fight.
“People are going to see fireworks on Saturday night, as always,” Fundora promised. “Expect a great night.”
For a closer look at Sebastian Fundora, check out his fighter page.