It was a patient, methodically devastating performance for Tszyu, who had stopped his two previous opponents in devastating fashion, but couldn’t put the finishing touches on Mendoza.
While he didn’t stop him, Tszyu landed a number of jarring, highlight-reel type shots, hurting Mendoza several times to win by scores of 116-111, 116-112 and 117-111. The 28-year-old hometown hero remained undefeated at 24-0 with 17 KOs and landed 38% of his power punches, while Mendoza landed 31.6% of power punches, according to CompuBox (98 to 71).
The always dangerous Mendoza showed a granite chin and inhuman toughness but couldn’t pull off a come-from-behind victory, as he did against Sebastian Fundora in April on SHOWTIME when he knocked out Fundora in the seventh round. Mendoza’s three-fight knockout streak came to a halt as he dropped to 22-3 with 16 KOs.
Tszyu didn’t waste any time explaining what he wants to do next.
“Charlo, where you at? Where you at buddy?” Tszyu said in the ring afterward, calling out unified 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo. “He probably thinks in his delusional head that he’s going to beat me. Come get it. Come get it.”
Tszyu, who said he will take his talents to the United States to face Charlo and may have fought his last fight in his native Australia for the time being, calling this fight his “last hurrah,” is confident he will face Charlo next.
“For sure, man,” he said. “He fought Canelo, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He’s the best 154-pounder. So, let’s prove to everyone who really is the king of the division.”
Tszyu praised Mendoza for his toughness and guile.
“Man, he’s tough,” he said. “He’s crafty. He’s slick. He has power. He’s world class for a reason. He’s just behind me. I wanted to have some fun (tonight), perform for everyone. It’s my last hurrah. We finished up with a little bang. Hopefully we can all go to Vegas together. I’ve got a pack of lions with me, every single person in Australia. The support here has been unreal. Thanks to all the day-ones. See you all in Vegas.”
It was a tactical fight, with Tszyu patiently stalking Mendoza and measuring him and landing big shots. Tszyu pummeled Mendoza in the 10th and 11th rounds as he chased him from pillar to post with a series of thumping overhand rights and lefts. Somehow, Mendoza kept his wits about him and survived the onslaught, but blood trickled from both eyes from the punishment, and the ringside physician examined Mendoza briefly before the start of the 12th and final round.
Tszyu pounded on Mendoza in the fifth in perhaps the most lopsided round of the fight, landing a left uppercut and left hook that left their mark in the form of a purple bruise under Mendoza’s right eye.
Tszyu landed a missile of a right hand with 30 seconds left in the eighth that Mendoza soaked up and somehow remained upright as Tszyu totally wrested control of the fight at that point. Midway through the seventh, Tszyu landed a stinging right uppercut that snapped Mendoza’s head up. Tszyu followed up with a slicing right hand as Mendoza held on to survive the round.