Rising contender Brian Mendoza scored a career-defining upset win, blasting out the previously unbeaten Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora in round seven in what may be the clubhouse leader for Knockout of the Year to capture the Interim WBC Super Welterweight Title live on SHOWTIME Saturday night from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
“I never quit,” said Mendoza. “I kept 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.”
“I’m good, for one second I turned off, but I guess that’s boxing, it happens,” said Fundora. “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 boxing the second you fall asleep, you get punished.”
Having scored back-to-back knockouts to earn this fight, Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) connected on a picture-perfect left hook early in round seven that badly hurt Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs), and followed up with a powerful left-right combo that put Fundora down for good.
“I saw he was open so I had to head in for the kill because I knew he wasn’t gonna stop coming either,” said Mendoza. “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.”
Mendoza, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-native who now trains in Las Vegas with coach Ismael Salas, looked to show his boxing ability early and kept his distance from Fundora while peppering body shots. As the fight progressed, Mendoza looked to try to close the distance and keep Fundora from gaining leverage on his punches, but was met with a consistent stream of uppercuts.
The Fundora attack caused blood to start coming from Mendoza’s nose in round five, as it appeared the previously unbeaten fighter was on his way to wearing out another opponent with a non-stop onslaught of power punches. The overall CompuBox stats saw Fundora out-land Mendoza 100 to 62 while also leading 60-54 twice and 59-55 on the cards at the time of the stoppage.
Mendoza was emotional following his career-best victory, viewing the win as a culmination of his comeback following setbacks earlier in his career.
“I started losing a couple rounds but I didn’t care,” said Mendoza. “You’ll never see me give up. 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!”
“It was a good punch,” said Fundora. “I didn’t recognize that moment, but I’m fine. I’m healthy now, and I’ll be back. I’ll be back to take over 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 good fights. Congratulations to Brian Mendoza, he did his thing, but like I said, I’ll be back.”
In the co-main event, unbeaten rising super lightweight Brandun Lee (28-0, 23 KOs) grinded out a hard-fought unanimous decision victory over Pedro Campa (34-3-1, 23 KOs) after their 10 round bout, earning winning tallies of 99-91, 98-92 and 97-93.
“This is boxing, it’s all about who has more effective punches,” said Lee. “Look at his face, look at mine. I felt I was more accurate and landed harder shots. Pedro Campa is a true Mexican veteran and he came to fight.”
Lee showed initiative from the opening bell, quickly stepping to Campa and unleashing a barrage of power shots as he chased his opponent around the ring. After the initial flurry, Campa settled into the action comfortably and found his own opportunities to counter and temporarily slow down the aggressive Lee.
“I thought I won the fight,” said Campa. “I felt I was pressuring him the whole fight. There were some instances when he had the pressure, and that’s when I felt a little bit not in control.”
The La Quinta, Calif.,resident Lee fought in front of a friendly crowd and waved them on in round four as he controlled much of the first half of the fight. However, Campa had some of his most success in round six and heard the encouragement from the supportive pro-Mexico fans in attendance.
“My performance was great in the first five rounds and then I slowed down and that’s when he started to come on,” said Lee. “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 rounds and soon to be 12 rounds and don’t change up the game plan.”
“The fans started cheering for me once they saw my Mexican-style way of bringing pressure,” said Campa. “Always moving forward. They were seeing the damage I was inflicting with my punches.”
While Campa had his moments where he broke through Lee’s guard, he was still frequently on the receiving end of Lee’s offensive arsenal. Lee fought much of the fight toe-to-toe but took occasional breaks to show his movement and boxing ability before charging ahead refreshed for more back and forth action.
Campa out-landed Lee (186-159), but Lee’s 32% connect rate outpaced Campa’s 25%. Although Campa out-landed Lee 96-60 from rounds five through eight, Lee’s 52 to 17 edge in jabs landed helped make the difference in the later rounds of the bout.
“Now it’s time to rest, be with family and see what’s next,” said Campa. “I have too much heart and I know that I can put on a show anywhere, anytime.”
“I would love another opponent like Pedro Campa, someone who’s strong and I’d love to continue developing how I am now,” said Lee.
In the telecast opener, featherweight contenders went toe-to-toe as Luis Núñez (19-0, 13 KOs) outslugged Christian Olivo (20-1-1, 7 KOs) on his way to a 10-round unanimous decision triumph by scores of 100-90, 98-92 and 97-93.
The Dominican Republic’s Núñez and Mexico’s Olivo fought most of the bout in close quarters, with Olivo pushing the pace early and often, while Núñez was more than obliged to pick his spots for powerful counters.
“We did the work to earn this most important victory,” said Núñez. “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.”
Núñez’s control of the fight was reflected in his accuracy, as he connected on over 37% of his power punches, which the judges favored to Olivo’s volume. Olivo both outthrew (661-413) and out-landed Núñez (155-118), with both fighters connecting on 42 jabs.
“I want to thank my opponent, because it was a great fight,” said Olivo. “I still think I do have to work on a couple of things, but this loss is really going to propel me to focus in the future. It’s going to take more work. I needed to do more in this fight to win it.”
“I was surprised he took so many of my punches,” added Núñez. “I kept hitting him and he kept on coming. 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.”
Olivo had some of his best moments in the fight in round seven, an exciting frame that saw both men land and absorb their share of power shots. Núñez was able to weather any momentum Olivo had with improved movement and occasional jabs to knock the charging Olivo off course.
“I’m Mexican after all, we are all warriors,” said Olivo. “I leave proud and with my head held high because I battled and I gave the fans a great show.”
After 10 rounds, Núñez walked away with his perfect record intact as he prepares to continue his rise up the 126-pound rankings.
“I’m happy about my performance,” said Núñez. “I came out victorious and I did what I had to do to win. I want a title shot. I want to fight the best in the division. Whatever is available I’ll take it.”