By Adam Baskin: Brian Mendoza is ready to win over the Aussie fans by defeating their hero, WBO junior middleweight champion Tim Tszyu, this Saturday night.
The American Mendoza (22-2, 16 KOs) has the power to pull off the upset, but he’s got to jump on the 28-year-old Tszyu right away because if he waits too long, he’ll get sparked out in the first three rounds. Tszyu (23-0, 17 KOs) is a major puncher and is highly accurate with his punch placement.
Like in Mendoza’s last fight against ‘The Towering Inferno’ Sebastian Fundora, he’s the underdog and expected to lose the fight. It’s important that the 29-year-old Mendoza start a lot faster against Tszyu because he cannot afford to start slow like that if he has any hope of winning this contest.
Mendoza was getting methodically beaten up by the 6’5 1/2″ Fundora through six rounds, but in the seventh, he finally went on the attack, nailing his stork-like opponent with a huge left hook that had him out on his feet. Mendoza followed with a hard right hand and massive left hook to put him down for the knockout.
If Mendoza can get to Tszyu’s chin early, he’s got a real chance because he’s packing glass there, as we saw with him getting dropped by Terrell Gausha in the first round. If Gausha had any kind of power, he would have put the coup de grace on Tszyu, finishing the job because he was there for the taking.
Mendoza enjoying underdog role
“I’m thriving [on being underdog], and for the Rosario fight, they called me on ten days [notice]. I’m like, ‘Let’s switch, let’s go. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for,’ and then for the Fundora fight. I’m starting to like this, actually,” said Brian Mendoza to Broadway Joel, discussing how he enjoyed being the underdog in his fights.
It’s a much different story for Mendoza to attempt to pull off an upset against Tszyu, as he’s a far superior fighter than the guys that he’s beaten recently. Still, Mendoza has a chance of winning because Tszyu has a lot of flaws in his game, and his punch resistance isn’t on the level that he needs to be going up against a fighter with the kind of power that Brian has.
“Honestly, you see the challenges I’m taking, so I’m going to be an underdog for a while. I think even after this one, the fights that I’m trying to get,” said Mendoza.
If Mendoza beats Tszyu, the only guys he’s going to be an underdog against are these fighters:
- Jermell Charlo
- Terence Crawford
- Errol Spence Jr
In the case of Jermell, he’s likely going to ignore Mendoza, as he just wants a big-money cash-out fight against Terence Crawford. So he’s not going to show any interest in fighting Mendoza because there’s no money in that fight, and that seems to be his entire focus now.
“Even after this, I’m going to stay the underdog, but I’m actually learning to thrive because of those victories; there’s nothing sweeter than that. I’m pulling off these big upsets and everything. So, I’m enjoying it; it feels good,” said Mendoza.
“I’m already envisioning a huge stadium full of people out there in Australia, going from ‘Boo’ to ‘Oh’ and cheering for me in the end. I’m going to try and steal every single fan out there, but I just enjoy it. It’s a huge payoff.
“It just feels good. You’re kind of an example. I like turning non-believers into believers, and a huge motivating factor. I mean, what pressure is on me? I’m supposed to go get beat up again.
“I’m going all in at the gym just ready to do the exact opposite, but there’s no pressure, and I just get to go in there and be me,” said Mendoza.