Tim Tszyu outpoints game Brian Mendoza, defends WBO 154-pound title

In a matchup of top junior middleweights, Kostya Tszyu walked down and punished tough and crafty Brian Mendoza to a unanimous decision on Saturday at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach, Australia.

Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs), The Ring’s No. 1-rated junior middleweight, won by scores of 117-111, 116-111 and 116-112, and made the first defense of WBO title (that was stripped from unified Ring Magazine champion Jermell Charlo). The 28-year-old Sydney native started cautiously against Mendoza (22-3, 16 KOs), The Ring’s No. 3-rated junior middleweight, who effectively punched on the fly during the early rounds.

However, the slow and tactical approach eventually gave way to Tszyu’s usual search-and-destroy mode by Round 5 when the “Soul Taker” landed a flush left uppercut that was followed up by a one-two combination that backed Mendoza into the ropes.

From that point on, Tszyu gradually stepped up his pressure round by round and began cutting the ring off on Mendoza, who somehow absorbed clean right hands, left hooks, uppercuts and body shots without going down. The 29-year-old New Mexico native remained on the move but fired back and landed hard shots in spots. However, he couldn’t deter Tszyu from walking him down.

By Round 10, Tszyu was brutally swarming a marked-up Mendoza along the ropes, but the contender’s world-class whiskers and fighting spirit kept him upright to the final bell.

After the fight, Tszyu’s attention immediately turned to Charlo, who he was supposed to challenge as the WBO’s mandatory challenger (and later interim titleholder) in January. However, the mandatory title bout was put off when Charlo suffered a wrist injury and was seemingly scuttled when the veteran Texan challenged super middleweight champ Canelo Alvarez in September. Tszyu still wants his shot.

“Charlo! Where ya at, buddy?” he said at the start of his post-fight interview.

“In his delusional head, he probably thinks he can beat me. Come get it. He fought Canelo, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world [so why not fight me?]. He’s the best at junior middleweight, but [he needs to] fight me and prove who’s really the king of the division.”


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