When David Slayed Goliath: Mendoza vs. Fundora, Robert Brizel’s Favorite KO of 2023
Editorial By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent
From Nicolai Valuev to Primo Carnera to Jess Willard, from Mike White to Julius Long, tall fighters have always attracted ring curiosity. Willard beat Jack Johnson, then lose to Jack Dempsey, setting the boxing world astir. In today’s super heavyweight giant boxing world, boxers seem to be getting taller and taller.
On the surface, super middleweight contender Brian Mendoza, 22-2 with 16 knockouts, Las Vegas, Nevada, who went 10 rounds with Thomas LaManna in 2020, does not seem to be anything out of the ordinary in terms of boxing ability. How then did he win the interim World Boxing Council World Super Welterweight title at Dignity Health Sports Park by knockout on April 8, 2023?
At 5’10” with 70 inches of reach, Mendoza would seem to be a longshot at best against 6’5 1/2″ giant Sebastian ‘The Towering Inferno’ Fundora, 20-0-1 with 80 inches of reach. The matchup seems to be incongruous. However, Fundora had a 10 round split draw with Jamontay Clark in August 2019, a fighter easily dropped and stopped in the second round by Terrell Gaucha in March 2021. Gaucha was subsequently decisioned over 12 rounds by Tim Tszyu in March 2022.
Going into round seven, the smaller Mendoza had won only one round on the one judges’ scorecard. A points win was a theoretical impossibility, even if he won the next six rounds outright, he could wind up with no better than a 12 round split draw. All of a sudden, a snapping left hook by Mendoza doubled over the confused and shocked Fundora, who had never gotten hit by a true power hitter.
Mendoza followed with massive clubbing left and right hooks to drop the dazed Fundora, who looked up but took the ten count from referee Ray Corona as his legs were totally gone. Mendoza dropped former WBC, WBA, IBF and IBO 154 pound champion twice before knocking him out in Minneapolis in November 2022, retiring the former world champion. Fundora’s camp had overlooked the warning signs of a Gerald McClellan style evolving and maturing power hitter in the middle weight zone. Jack Dempsey and mike Tyson type power can neutralize larger boxers and better technicians in the ring, though not always. It is not a bout to be won on the scorecards. Mendoza looked for the opening and pinpoint found it. When challenged with formidable power of this nature, Fundora crumbled like Humpty Dumpty falling from the wall.
Mendoza is a candidate for Tim Tszyu and other top 154 pound boxers at this point in 2023, so a higher match is definitely next for Mendoza. As of April 2023, Mendoza’s knockout of Fundora is my favorite of 2023. Pure, raw, and powerful, Mendoza was ahead of Jeison Rosario on all three scorecards. The logistics of a David versus Goliath matchup is always of great interest, especially when David wins, like Muhammad Ali did with Big George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire, in October 1974 at Stade du 20 Mai Stadium, when the bookmakers got sent to the cleaners. TO watch David slay Goliath in the ring is a thing of beauty, watch the footage.