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‘I want Charlo, I want the undisputed’: Brian Mendoza on his upset win over Sebastian Fundora and what comes next

Brian Mendoza scored a huge upset win this past Saturday, but says he’s not happy just getting this far.

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Brian Mendoza is an early frontrunner for Upset of the Year after knocking out Sebastian Fundora
Brian Mendoza is an early frontrunner for Upset of the Year after knocking out Sebastian Fundora
Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Brian Mendoza put himself into the discussion for Upset of the Year this past Saturday when he knocked out Sebastian Fundora in the seventh round on Showtime, and also became the wrench thrown into the works at 154 lbs, snagging the WBC interim title and putting himself right in line for more big fights.

Mendoza (22-2, 16 KO) says he wants those big fights, including the biggest out there in his division.

“I’m in this for real. I just proved that. I told people, I’m not excited, ‘Ooh, yay, I made it this far.’ No. The dream was not to have ‘the title,’ the dream was to have ‘the titles,’ multiple,” he said on The DAZN Boxing Show.

“That’s what we’re going for. I want Charlo, I want the undisputed. I just beat (Fundora), now I’m solidified, they can’t deny me. But I beat Charlo, and I’m really, like — that’s history right there. I want to chase greatness.”

On what he saw going into the Fundora fight that others didn’t

“Number one (was having) no fear. I feel like people freeze just at the sight of his height and reach and stuff. I saw the tall, lanky guy who’s very awkward. It took me a few rounds, I couldn’t even clinch or anything. I would try to hold or something to slow down the momentum, but he has, like, these loop-de-loop shots that go all the way around. That part was crazy. He’s very awkward, big volume and everything — he’s made it to where he has for a reason, but I still saw a lanky guy that can’t block all that body, can’t block his head 24/7. I just saw holes in the game I could take advantage of.”

On Fundora’s power

“He doesn’t have much pop, it’s more about the volume for sure. I never even felt, like, a flash daze or anything like that. He’s one of those guys that he doesn’t even care about hitting you hard, he’s not trying to hit you hard. He’s just trying to touch you, and that breaks people mentally before physically. Because you’re, like, ‘Yo, I can’t breathe’ — you feel this pressure.”

On how many rounds it took to find find the range

“I knew it was just a matter of time. The plan was always to have a big second half, either big enough to walk away with the decision or a knockout. That first half, I’m going up against a machine. You’re not going to take out a machine right away. I had great sparring, my main sparring I brought in was Mykal Fox, a 6’4” southpaw welterweight, so he gave me great looks. He’s a lot more slick than Fundora, he actually uses a lot of his height and reach and stuff. It was difficult to touch him, but I always said, ‘If I can touch him, then I’m really going to land something on Fundora.’

“It was just having faith in the process. Having faith in my gas tank, too. Even if it is awkward at first, I know I’m gonna close the distance, and I know he’s also gonna close the distance for me. It was just keep chopping the tree, keep moving forward. I actually was motivated from the first round, because once the second round started, I looked and his body was already turning red. He has a good poker face for those shots.

“People were saying, ‘Oh, you weren’t a lot of overhands.’ Yes, I was, look at where I was aiming. ‘You weren’t landing a lot of hooks.’ Yes, I was, look where I was aiming. I wasn’t headhunting like every single (Fundora) opponent has. The target in front of me is body. I gotta look up for his head, I’m not trying to do all that reaching and jump to try to get up there. I’m gonna bring him down to my level and chop that tree bit-by-bit.”

On the left hook in round seven

“The whole mentality in the fight was chop the tree, I wasn’t really looking for one (shot). Every once in a while I’d try to sit on a big shot, but the point was snap your shots. If you look at the break before that round, Salas told me, ‘Hey, go put some heat on the shots in this round. Put a little more heat on him,’ because it was second half, time to step it up.”

On whether he knew Fundora was done on the knockdown

“No, I was just — that’s why you saw the heat on those follow-up shots to put him down. I dazed him with the hook, and I put everything behind that shot, and even the hook on his way down. That was more, ‘Stay down.’”

On their interaction after the fight

“Only in the ring, I didn’t get to talk to him backstage. But we did have that little moment. It was, ‘Hey, man, I appreciate you, thank you for giving me this opportunity.’ Because he didn’t have to. I know everybody looked at me as food, but, like, this was very dangerous food. At the very least I had a puncher’s chance. This was still a risky fight to take, so hats off to him for that.”

“He kept it short and sweet, ‘Good fight’ and all that stuff.”

On the ups and downs of his career

“I’ve been through every emotion you can possibly think of, man, from the happiest to the darkest. I’ve seen it all. But I feel like I wouldn’t change it for anything, because that’s where my career brought me.”

“My first loss (to Larry Gomez in 2019). It was a fight I wasn’t supposed to take. That invincibility gets crushed. I was supposed to be A-side, it was a guy who was, like, 9-1, he had beaten some other tough dudes, but he was supposed to ‘just be tough’ or whatever. I was holding on to 147 a little too long, I couldn’t make those cuts anymore. No excuses, the guy was the better (fighter) that night, and that’s what just crushed me — it wasn’t about weight, it wasn’t about anything, it was the fact the invincibility had been crushed in that moment. I was, like, ‘Yo, this isn’t supposed to happen.’ It was just that.”

“(Jesus) Ramos never hurt me either, I’ve been in there with guys, I eat their shots. I took (Jeison) Rosario’s best punches. He hit me with an uppercut that made me look like an owl, snapped my neck all the way back, and even then I didn’t buckle. I have the chin. Now I have the gas tank, the strength and conditioning for it, I have the intelligence with (trainer) Ismael Salas. It’s all blended together.

“It’s been little by little, but it’s more about realizing who I am more than finding the confidence. Taking it down, sitting, and taking all those things into account.”

On what names could be next

“Nothing yet (from PBC), the dust is still settling. Obviously I’m the (WBC) interim (champion), so obviously next in line is the full, undisputed and everything. (Jermell) Charlo has all-in-one right now. The next step is that, logistically, but whatever it is.”

On wanting the Charlo fight

“Of course, man, I’m in this for real. I just proved that. I told people, I’m not excited, ‘Ooh, yay, I made it this far.’ No. The dream was not to have ‘the title,’ the dream was to have ‘the titles,’ multiple. That’s what we’re going for. I want Charlo, I want the undisputed. I just beat (Fundora), now I’m solidified, they can’t deny me. But I beat Charlo, and I’m really, like — that’s history right there. I want to chase greatness.”

On Jesus Ramos in a possible rematch

“Of course, I’d like a little ‘get-back.’ We have some unfinished business. To be honest, I just don’t have an answer, but I will tell you I want all the smoke. I can tell you that much. I want everybody. After I beat Rosario, I got ranked at 160 and 154, because they made me take the fight at 160. I told my team, either one, 160 or 154, I want both of them. The biggest opportunities, to answer your question. Yes, the names, of course, but the biggest opportunities. You see how easy these fights are to make with me. There’s not even a build-up or anything.”

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