Brian Mendoza did little to nothing of consequence in the first six rounds of his bout against Sebastian Fundora on Saturday night.
A couple of devastating punches reversed all of that and sent his career to new heights. A thunderous left hook followed by an overhand right sent Fundora to the canvas to give Mendoza a seventh-round knockout win at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Despite being a significant underdog, the 29-year-old from Albuquerque, New Mexico was able to elevate his career with the stunning upset victory.
"I always said the dream wasn't to come this far," Mendoza told reporters in his post-fight news conference. "It was to accomplish the goal, become a champion."
Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) picked up the WBC's interim super middleweight belt and handed Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) his first professional defeat.
Up until that point, the taller fighter (6-foot-5½) out of Coachella, California, was seemingly in control. Across all three scorecards, Fundora won every round except for the first round on judge Nathan Palmer's sheet.
According to CompuBox, Fundora threw more punches than Mendoza in every single round and outlanded him in all but the first. However, Mendoza wasn't rattled by Fundora's success.
"You have to kill me to get to me to stop," Mendoza said in his post-fight news conference. "None of those shots, even when he was snapping my head back with those uppercuts, I was never even flashed or dazed or anything like that. I said, 'It's OK, I'm going to eat these shots, but I'm going to keep coming.'"
Before last year, Mendoza had lost two of his last three fights, including a 2021 loss to Jesus Ramos. But the tide in his career started to turn with a win last November against Jeison Rosario, a former champion in the 154-pound division. On Saturday, Fundora left a slow, southpaw jab out a little too long, leaving Mendoza a window to land the massive left hook that led to the knockout win.
"For one second I turned off but I guess that's boxing, right?" Fundora said afterwards. "It happens. You just get caught with a punch."