Mendoza's career turnaround continues as he scores his second straight upset win, this time capturing the WBC interim 154-pound title Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
No one saw this coming. No one except Brian Mendoza.
Mendoza was bleeding, listing and taking punishment against towering southpaw Sebastian Fundora.
One punch changed everything.
Mendoza saw a sliver of an opening, and took it, plowing Fundora with a left hook on the jaw, followed by a straight right to the face and another left that sent “The Towering Inferno” down and yanked Mendoza up the super welterweight ranks with a stunning seventh-round knockout Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, in a Premier Boxing Champions main event on SHOWTIME.
With the win, Mendoza captured WBC Interim super welterweight title. He was down 60-54 (twice) and 59-55 on the scorecards when the end came at 0:39 of the seventh.
“I started losing a couple rounds but I didn’t care, you’ll never see me give up,” Mendoza said. “I would’ve given up years ago when I took some losses. I kept on sparring and look at me now. A year ago, I was a swing bout after the main event nobody cared who I was or what I was doing, this is proof. You keep working you’re going to make it baby!
“I never quit. I keep going. You can beat me all you want, but if you don’t kill me, I’m coming back. They didn’t kill me in my career and it’s too late now, I’m getting better each time. I want to thank Fundora for taking this fight he didn’t need to take it. It was really risky for where he was at. Thank you for the opportunity and we did it!”
It marked Mendoza’s second-straight upset, following his fifth-round knockout last November over former unified super welterweight world champion Jeison Rosario.
Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) cracked a left hook off of Fundora’s jaw that badly wobbled him and smashed a right to the chin and another left that sent Fundora down for the second time in his career.
Referee Ray Corona reached the count of 10 while Fundora sat on the canvas stunned.
“I told you guys I wasn’t just a strong puncher,” Mendoza said. “I was a strong puncher for those rounds that he was catching me. I hesitated, but I saw he was open so I had to head in for the kill because I knew he wasn’t gonna stop coming either. Like I said, thank you for this opportunity.
“This is my moment this is my time. I predicted everything that was going to happen in my past two fights and how they were going to end and everything. Thank you to my team. I have the brains and the gas tank; nobody can stop us.”
The first few rounds were fought at a cautious pace. Fundora used his jab and surprisingly fought outside, while Mendoza appeared comfortable waiting on the outside, mixing in sporadic shots.
In the third, Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) began opening up, smacking Mendoza with a left uppercut to the chin. Through three, Mendoza had a problem solving the puzzle of getting inside Fundora’s jet-wingspan 80-inch reach. It broke Mendoza’s rhythm. He was only able to throw one punch at a time.
In the fifth, Fundora stepped into his phone booth and proceeded to bash Mendoza. He bloodied Mendoza’s forehead with left uppercuts, which snapped Mendoza’s head back.
All Mendoza could do was hold on.
Now he has a title belt to hold on to.
“Now that I have this belt, I want to put this around my mom hopefully,” Mendoza said. “I earned this… I want to celebrate with my family. But they can’t deny me now. The next one up is (Jermell) Charlo he’s obviously undisputed, but I just always want the best. When they called me for this, I signed it no hesitation. So, I’m waiting for a call. We’re ready for the world man… Mexico, stand up!”
It looked like Fundora was heading towards victory when everything fell apart in the seventh. He had his right hand down when Mendoza caught him with the decisive left hook.
“I’m good, for one second I turned off, but I guess that’s boxing right,” Fundora said. “It happens. You just get caught with a punch. I did some punching and then I got caught you know. He was throwing that overhand right all night and I was dodging and dodging, but in as boxing the second you fall asleep you get punished.
“It was a good punch. I don’t recognize that moment, but I’m fine. I’m healthy now, and I’ll be back. I’ll be back to take the division, and this is a step up and a step down. It happens but I’ll be back.
“I’m not sorry I took this fight, this is boxing. We gotta fight and we have to make these fights. Congratulations to Brian Mendoza he did his thing, but like I said, I’ll be back.”
Outstanding attack from @Brandun_Lee in the 9th— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 9, 2023
We're going to the 10th and FINAL round!#LeeCampa | #FundoraMendoza pic.twitter.com/YsMY8IQokG
Brandun Lee survives a pivotal test over Pedro Campa
Brandun Lee wanted a tough test. He certainly got it in Mexican veteran Pedro Campa.
Lee won a 10-round unanimous decision at a 143-pound catchweight over Campa on the scorecards of judges Jerry Cantu (97-93), Tiffany Clinton (99-91), and Fernando Villarreal (98-92).
The scorecards said one thing. Their faces told another story.
“It was a little close, but I knew I won easily,” Lee said. “Well, this is boxing. It’s all about who has more effective punches. Look at his face, look at mine. I felt I was more accurate and landed the harder shots.
“Was this the guy who’s given [me] the toughest test? Absolutely, 100%. Pedro Campa is a true Mexican veteran and Mexicans come to fight! I would love another opponent like Pedro Campa, someone who’s strong like Pedro Campa, and I’d love to continue where I’m at now.”
Lee (28-0, 23 KOs) wanted to make a statement and went right after Campa in the first 20 seconds, pounding the 31-year-old Mexican with combinations on his head and face. But as the round began to wind down, Campa (34-3-1, 23 KOs) came after Lee in the last minute of the round, catching Lee with lefts to the body, just above the waistline.
Campa was the role of stalker, constantly coming forward. It got him in some trouble when Lee showed great accuracy with his counter punches. Lee knocked out Campa’s mouthpiece in the last seconds of the round, and again in the third. Campa also had a small cut on the corner of his left eye.
As the midway portion of the fourth arrived, chants of “Brandun Lee, Brandun Lee, Brandun Lee” began to emerge from the partisan crowd. Lee responded by pounding Campa with rights.
That seemed to awaken Campa, who had his first convincing round in the fifth, slipping in overhand rights inside. Campa continued the pressure in the sixth and lost his mouthpiece for a third time. He burrowed in and hit Lee to the body.
“I knew he was coming to fight, and he was continuing non-stop,” Lee said. “I wish I used my jab a little bit more. My performance was great in the first five rounds and then I slowed down and that’s when he started to come on. That’s a veteran thing to do.
“I learned that I’m going to have to pace myself in these kinds of fights, to realize we’re going 10 round and soon to be 12 rounds and don’t change up the game plan. I knew he could take a punch. I felt like I dazed him over 10 times throughout the fight. I could tell he did a lot of cardio because he never went down.
“We wanted to box more but the more I was boxing the more heavy pressure he was applying so I was trying to slow down by fighting more on the inside. When he threw two punches I’d throw four punches.”
For the fourth time, Jack Reiss had to put Campa’s mouthpiece back in the seventh. By then, Campa’s eyes were closing into two swollen slits. Lee was holding more, and Campa was sustaining his attack. In the last minute of the eighth, Lee fought well with his back against the ropes. He did so again in the ninth before a closely contested final round, proving his mettle against the toughest opponent of his career.
Luis Núñez and Christian Olivo are chucking leather through— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) April 9, 2023
Tune in LIVE on @Showtime #FundoraMendoza pic.twitter.com/OibumpC28N
Luis Nunez remains undefeated by outpointing Christian Olivo
Featherweight Luis Nunez had been 10 rounds four times in his young career, and Christian Olivo was delving into the 10-round range for the first time and it showed.
The 23-year-old Nunez won a unanimous decision to remain undefeated on the scorecards of judges Rudy Barragan (98-92), George Cruz (100-90) and Zachary Young (97-93).
“Of course [I thought I won],” Nunez said. “My jab was working in every round and he threw a lot of punches that didn’t reach me. There’s a lot I have to work on still to be in the big fights, so I’ll still be working at the gym.
“But I’m happy about my performance. I came out victorious and I did what I had to do to win. I was surprised he took so many of my punches. I kept hitting him and he kept on coming.”
Olivo was the aggressor, using his jab to force Nunez to retreat on his backfoot. Nunez (19-0, 13 KOs) began the opening rounds satisfied to counter punch the 24-year-old Olivo (20-1-1, 7 KOs) as he approached.
In the third, Olivo did a nice job of attacking the body, though there were a few occasions when he got caught by counter left hooks.
With 2:21 left in the fourth, Nunez landed his best punch, at that point, in the fight, a straight right to the face that Olivo took well. There were two instances in the fourth when Olivo hit the canvas, which were rightfully determined as slips by referee Thomas Taylor. But it was Nunez’s first dominant round.
“I was throwing a lot of punches and I realized he was hurt, but I couldn’t understand how he could take all this punishment and keep going,” Nunez said. “I want a title shot. I want to fight the best in the division. Whatever is available I’ll take it.”
Olivo picked up his pace in the fifth, connecting on the body shots. With :50 seconds left in the round, Olivo popped Nunez in the face with a left hook. But Nunez landed effective combinations on Olivo.
With 31 seconds left in the seventh, Olivo caught Nunez against the ropes with a flush on the chin with a looping right and had him in some trouble. Rattled, Nunez hung on to survive the round. In the eighth, Nunez plowed Olivo with a counter right, though it was Olivo who was relentless, still coming forward in the ninth and mixing combinations.
With 2:22 left in the 10th, Taylor stopped the action after a clash of heads, which left created a small welt high on Olivo’s right cheek. Bleeding from a cut in the corner of his left eye, Olivo was nailed by Nunez to the body and the head as Nunez closed strong to cap off the victory.
For a closer look at Fundora vs Mendoza, check out our fight night page.