Brian Mendoza is looking to continue his career revival when he clashes against Tim Tszyu on Saturday to headline a Premier Boxing Champions event on Showtime starting at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
The 154-pound title fight will take place at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.
The second-generation star and son of Hall of Fame fighter Kostya Tszyu has scored a series of significant wins over the last three years against the likes of Jeff Horn, Dennis Hogan, Terrell Gausha, Tony Harrison, and Carlos Ocampo.
The set of victories helped make Tszyu the mandatory challenger to undisputed champion Jermell Charlo’s WBO belt. But when Charlo chose to fight Canelo Alvarez instead of moving forward by rescheduling his previously postponed scrap against Tszyu, the WBO elevated Tszyu from interim titlist to full champion.
Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) – a WBC interim titlist – believes that Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) is a deserving opponent regardless of the sanctioning body semantics.
“He’s earned his spot, and he’s trying to get away from just being under his dad’s name and anything like that. So he’s working hard, and he is a big puncher, uses lots of pressure,” Mendoza said during a press conference this week.
“I think that’s his main thing, lots of pressure and stuff, and he just stays on you. He’s there to really chase. He doesn’t just try to coast or anything like that. He goes to war, and he expects to come out on top.”
Tszyu is certainly carving his own legacy with each passing fight.
Mendoza, meanwhile, is well familiar with the rich boxing bloodlines of Kostya, who scored wins against the likes of Julio César Chávez, Zab Judah, and Rafael Ruelas across a 23 year career that ended in 2005.
“I see that he learned a lot [from Kostya]. There are many similarities from the style, and yeah, it’s crazy how the world turns,” said Mendoaz. “When I was a young kid, I wasn’t even too interested in boxing, and my dad was a huge fight fan, and we would always go to fight parties and stuff, watch the fights and stuff, and we used to watch Kostya Tszyu’s world title fights and everything. It was entertaining … and now we flew across the world to fight his son for a world title. It’s just crazy how the world turns, and you know where hard work can get you.”
“La Bala” Mendoza set himself up for a shot at Tszyu by scoring three straight stoppage wins against Benjamin Whitaker, Jeison Rosario, and Sebastian Fundora following his 2021 loss to Jesus Ramos Jr. in 2021.
“I’ve always said I want my performances to speak for me. I’m not a trash talker, and I feel like the people who flip the switch a little too early or they force it, it comes off corny,” said Mendoza.
“I think the reason I’ve been resonating with people is because I’m real. I’m myself. This is who you’re going to see on and off-camera, but on fight night, I’m definitely a killer, and I’m in there to hurt my opponent. There’s no friendliness there.
“From the losses, I have a bigger chip on my shoulder; I have more to prove each time out. So I’m always hungry. I always hated to say that, but it is something I needed to go through. It’s something I had to experience because before you feel that taste of defeat, it’s something impossible. It’s unfathomable.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.