Mendoza Knocks out Fundora in Seventh Round

Brian Mendoza did it again. 

Five months after breathing life into a sputtering career with a one-punch knockout of Jeison Rosario, he knocked out previously unbeaten Sebastian Fundora in the seventh round of a scheduled twelve round junior middleweight contest at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California on Saturday night.

For six rounds, Mendoza struggled with the unique challenges posed by the length and reach of the 6’ 5” “Towering Inferno.” Fundora kept Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) at bay with his lengthy southpaw jab through the first couple of rounds, and although Mendoza twisted and turned in an attempt to find an angle of approach that would enable him to land something of consequence, he was repeatedly stymied by Fundora’s 80-inch reach. 

In rounds three and four, Mendoza was able to close the distance somewhat, but to little avail, as Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) showed good foot movement to move in and out in response to Mendoza’s assault and also proved once more to be at least as adept fighting on the inside as at distance, using his height and reach to gain extra leverage on his punches and in particular to land crunching uppercuts as Mendoza ducked and moved in search of an opportunity to attack.

By the seventh round, Mendoza was resorting to trying to punch Fundora in the face while clinging to his waist, a move that earned him some pushback from referee Ray Corona and bemusement from Fundora. But then, suddenly, came the end.

Mendoza countered a lazy Fundora right hand with a left hook that exploded on Fundora’s jaw and froze him in place, then followed up with a right-left combination that sent Fundora crashing to the canvas. Although Fundora was able to prop himself up on his elbows as Corona counted, he was unable to make it to his feet in time and was counted out at :39 of the round. 

Californian 140-pound prospect Brandun Lee remained undefeated with a unanimous decision win over Pedro Campa that was not especially well received by the ringside crowd. Although Lee (28-0, 23 KOs) started furiously, cracking Campa with fierce blows to the jaw, the Mexican, who most recently lost by seventh round TKO to Teofimo Lopez, absorbed them without showing ill effects and soon began coming forward and putting the pressure on his opponent. The challenge posed by Campa was reflected in Lee’s varied approach to the contest: One round, Lee would box and move behind a lazy jab while looking to land power counters; the next round, he would choose to be the aggressor and step into his hard right hands and hooks. Campa, in contrast, showed only one gear as he drove relentlessly forward, attacking Lee’s body with ferocity and switching upstairs to his opponent’s jaw. 

Punch stats painted a picture of Lee’s greater accuracy and Campa’s greater output, the American landing a total of 159 out of 505 punches thrown while Campa (34-3-1, 23 KOs) landed 186 of 745. All but 17 of Campa’s landed blows were power shots, whereas Lee connected with 107 power shots and 52 jabs; Campa’s body attack was reflected in his 64 landed body shots, compared to Lee’s three. 

However, Campa’s right eye was partly closed, his mouth swollen and bloody, which Lee pointed to as evidence in support of the scores of 97-93, 98-92, and 99-91 in his favor. “It was a little close, but I thought I won easy.” he said afterward. “This is boxing. It’s all about who lands the most effective punches. Look at his face and look at my face.”

Having opened his professional ledger with 22 stoppages from 24 fights, Lee has now failed to register even a knockdown in his last four contests as he has stepped up his opposition.

In the opening bout of the Showtime broadcast, featherweight Luis Nunez remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision win over previously undefeated Christian Olivo that was wider on the scorecards than it appeared in the ring. Olivo (20-1-1, 7 KOs) started the contest with energy and maintained the higher work rate throughout, but the judges preferred the crisp counter punches of Nunez (19-0, 13 KOs) by scores of 97-93, 98-92 and a surely too wide 100-90.

“My jab was working in every round, and he threw a lot of punches that didn’t reach me,” argued Nunez, who predictably had no problem with the verdict. Olivo also accepted the judgment, saying that “Yes, I did think I lost this fight. I needed a little more work to win it.”