Tim Tszyu Pounds a Gutsy Brian Mendoza, Retains WBO Title With Unanimous Decision

Tim Tszyu ended Brian Mendoza’s made-for-Hollywood comeback in the 154-pound division Sunday afternoon.

The unbeaten Australian also continued his own ascent in their weight class by battering his courageous challenger during the final few rounds of what had been a competitive fight for Tszyu’s WBO junior middleweight title in Broadbeach, Australia. Sydney’s Tszyu drilled Mendoza with various right hands, nearly knocked him out in an entirely one-sided 11th round, took Mendoza’s power without incident and won their 12-round, 154-pound championship bout by unanimous decision at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Judges Steve Gray (116-112), Adam Height (116-111) and Katsuhiko Nakamura (117-111) all scored their fight for Tszyu by reasonable margins.

Tszyu (24-0, 17 KOs), who entered the ring as more than a 6-1 favorite, made his first defense of the WBO 154-pound crown he was awarded late last month. The son of former junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu also remained in position to fight Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KOs), who still holds the IBF, WBA and WBC belts.

“Charlo, where you at?,” Tszyu asked during his post-fight interview in the ring. “Where you at, buddy? He’ll probably, in his delusional head, will probably think that he’s gonna beat me. Come get it. Come get it.”

Tszyu wants to challenge Charlo for supremacy in the 154-pound division in his first fight of 2024. He believes Charlo will fight him, especially since the WBO stripped Charlo of one of the four titles the former undisputed champion once owned.

“Yeah, for sure, man,” Tszyu said when asked if Charlo would fight him. “He fought Canelo, man. He’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, you know? … He is the best [at] 154, but let’s prove it to everyone, who is really the king of this division.”

Tszyu didn’t beat Albuquerque’s Mendoza (22-3, 16 KOs) as easily as he handled Tony Harrison and Carlos Ocampo in his previous two appearances, mostly because Mendoza has power that made him dangerous throughout their bout and showed a granite chin. Mendoza displayed a lot of toughness and won rounds mostly in the first half of their bout, but he couldn’t land the type of shot on Tszyu that enabled him to knock out then-unbeaten Sebastian Fundora in the seventh round of his previous fight, which Mendoza was losing on all three scorecards April 8 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

“Man, he’s tough, he’s crafty, he’s slick, he’s got power,” Tszyu said of Mendoza, who knocked out Fundora and former IBF/IBO/WBA champ Jeison Rosario in his two bouts before Tszyu beat him. “He’s world class for a reason, you know? He’s just behind me.”

Tszyu seemed like he was on the verge of becoming the first fighter to knock out Mendoza during the 11th round, but Mendoza came back to make the 12th round much more competitive and lasted until the final bell.

Tszyu swarmed Mendoza as soon as the 11th round started and tried to take out the valiant challenger. The champion connected with numerous unanswered punches, but Mendoza held, moved and slipped his way toward survival and threw just enough punches back at Tszyu to prevent referee Mark Nelson from stopping the action.

Tszyu previously hurt Mendoza with a right hand that made Mendoza wince with 40 seconds on the clock in the 10th round. Tszyu stopped punching about 10 seconds later because he said Mendoza hit him low, but he resumed his attack soon thereafter and landed a vicious right uppercut toward the end of the 10th round.

Mendoza showed a granite chin and a lot of heart again in the 10th round, but Tszyu teed off on him for much of that round. Mendoza had a cut over his left eye and an abrasion beneath his right eye as he walked to his corner afrter that 10th round.

Tszyu drilled Mendoza with a right hand a little less than a minute into the ninth round. Mendoza continued to take Tszyu’s power well, but Tszyu had taken control of their bout by this point, particularly in the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds.

A straight right by Tszyu landed with just under 20 seconds on the clock in the eighth round. Tszyu’s left hook clipped Mendoza with about 35 seconds to go in the eighth round, but Mendoza landed a left hook of his own less than 10 seconds later.

Tszyu tattooed Mendoza with three right uppercuts in succession that made Mendoza try to hold him in the middle minute of the seventh round. Tszyu then nailed Mendoza with a right to the side of his head as Mendoza attempted to clinch him.

Mendoza later tried to fight his way out of that trouble, but Tszyu continued to press the action and unloaded hard shots on the still-dangerous challenger.

Mendoza drilled Tszyu with a left hook with just under 35 seconds on the clock in the sixth round.

Mendoza’s right hand landed with just under 1:50 remaining in the sixth round, but it only temporarily stopped Tszyu from coming forward. Mendoza connected with a left hook about 20 seconds into the sixth round.

Tszyu’s punches caused an abrasion beneath Mendoza’s right eye during the fifth round.

Mendoza snuck in a right uppercut with about 55 seconds remaining in the fifth round. Tszyu drilled Mendoza with a left uppercut and followed with a right hand when there was just under a minute on the clock in the fifth round.

A straight right by Tszyu got Mendoza’s attention with just under a minute to go in the fourth round.

Mendoza didn’t get great leverage on it, but he landed a left hook with just under 1:20 to go in the fourth round. Mendoza tied up Tszyu after Tszyu landed a right hand just before the halfway point of the fourth round.

Mendoza’s left landed to Tszyu’s body with just over 40 seconds remaining in the third round. Tszyu’s right landed around Mendoza’s glove with about 1:50 to go in the third round.

Mendoza snuck an overhand right from long range past Tszyu’s guard about 50 seconds into the third round.

Mendoza missed wildly with an overhand right when there were just over 30 seconds to go in the second round. Tszyu connected with an overhand right of his own several seconds later.

Tszyu snuck in a right hand with about five seconds to go in a tactical first round. A right hand by Mendoza backed up Tszyu just before the midway mark of the first round.

Tszyu landed a right hand barely 50 seconds into their fight, but it didn’t affect Mendoza.

Tszyu, 28, was elevated to full junior middleweight champion by the WBO on September 30, when it stripped Charlo of one of his four championships because Charlo moved up two weight classes to challenge Canelo Alvarez for his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 168-pound crowns at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Two bouts before he met Mendoza, Tszyu won the WBO interim junior middleweight title by dropping and stopping Harrison (29-4-1, 21 KOs), a former WBC super welterweight champ, in the ninth round March 12 at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney.

Tszyu defended that title once, when he overwhelmed Ocampo (35-3, 23 KOs) and knocked him out in the first round June 18 at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.


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