Mason Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) returned to Showtime’s ShoBox and delivered another impressive KO win over Bahodir Mamadjonov (19-3, 11 KOs). Body shots put Mamadjonov down twice in round 7 but the stoppage came in round 9 from a combination of lethal shots to the body and head that caused him to collapse on Menard’s shoulder before crumbling to the canvas. A title shot is on the horizon for the rising star from Louisiana and it’s only a matter of time before he climbs to the top of the rankings and becomes a mandatory.
DID YOU KNOW A LOT ABOUT YOUR OPPONENT GOING INTO THE FIGHT?
We didn’t know too much about him. We took the fight on two weeks’ notice. His promoter and my promoter co-promoted the fight and we were both scheduled to fight on this card. When no opponent would take a fight with either one of us, they decided to turn it into an NABO title fight if we both accepted the fight, and we both did. Going into it I only had two weeks to prepare for a southpaw and an awkward southpaw at that, so that only gave me one week to get a southpaw in camp and be able to spar with a southpaw.
I KNOW YOU TOOK THE FIGHT ON SHORT NOTICE BUT WERE YOU AS PREPARED AS YOU WANTED TO BE FOR MAMADJONOV?
We wasn’t expecting to fight a southpaw. The guys they had mentioned to me that they were trying to take the fight were all right handers, so we just kept sparring with right handers. But when they mentioned the fight with him, I was like, I gotta beat guys like this, it don’t matter if it’s last minute. I gotta be able to make the adjustments. The good thing is I had a full camp. I got some sparring in even though it was mostly right handers. You just gotta get in the ring and make the adjustments if you want to be a great fighter and be at the top of the game.
WHAT WAS YOUR STRATEGY GOING INTO THE FIGHT?
My strategy was to work some angles and use my feet more. His style made me shy on that but I also wasn’t on my A game. I usually move a lot better than what I did. Give him credit. Due to his style, it caused me some problems early on to try and figure him out. But like I said, I wasn’t on my A game, therefore I didn’t move as much as I usually do and land more punches like I usually do. The thing was we were going to touch his body. My corner man seen some film on him and said he fades later in the rounds. The thing was just to stay there, keep putting the pressure on him, don’t back off, and that’s what we did. I kept it moving the first half of the fight. He was in and out, in and out, moving, moving, moving. I was touching him here and there with some shots not really trying to waste no shots. Not trying to get caught with anything because he was a southpaw with decent power. Just wear him down. In those later rounds that’s exactly what I did. I touched him to the body and he went down twice. Then I started stepping over his lead right foot and that’s when I caught him with that overhand right. Sent him against the ropes, went to work on him and got the stoppage.
I knew I was stronger and in better shape than him and I knew in the later rounds I’d get to him and that’s exactly how it went.
IT LOOKED LIKE HE WAS GETTING OFF FIRST DURING A FEW OF THE MIDDLE ROUNDS, DID HIS SPEED OR AWKWARDNESS SURPRISE YOU?
His style was different, something that I’m not used to. He was kind of jumpy, he’s in and out a lot. I wasn’t moving to my best capability either. He hit me with some good flush shots, nothing hurt me though, but I could feel him. I knew that I just can’t just jump in with him and get caught with some shots because then it would take a toll on me. I knew I was stronger and in better shape than him and I knew in the later rounds I’d get to him and that’s exactly how it went.
YOUR OPPONENT USED HIS LEGS A LOT, WERE YOU EXPECTING HIM TO MOVE SO MUCH?
We knew he would move but we thought he would’ve came forward a lot more, and he didn’t stay coming forward like we thought he would. I knew he moved around and we just had to make those adjustments in the ring and keep walking him down. That’s all I did was just walk him down and kept going forward, kept wearing him down. I could tell in the ring when we clinched up and stuff, he started breathing heavily after a few rounds. So I could tell fatigue was going to set in pretty soon and we’d be able to get some good shots off of him.
DID YOU THINK THE FIGHT WAS GOING THE DISTANCE BEFORE YOU SCORED THE TWO KNOCKDOWNS IN ROUND 7?
Not really because after the sixth round when I got back to the corner in my head I was thinking, ‘okay, pretty close fight, pretty even. It’s time to start going to the body like we said more.’ I hit him earlier with a few good body shots and the way he acted and took off, it was just his awkward stance I just didn’t want to open up and get caught with some shots while trying to go to the body. That’s when I came out in the seventh round and started touching him to the body. I didn’t jump in for the kill because he was hurt but he wasn’t severely hurt like he was in the ninth round where I could jump on him and finish him. I didn’t want to jump on him and get caught with a shot. One shot can change the whole fight. You know how that can go when a fighter is in desperation and he just lunges a shot, catches you, it can change a fight. After them two knockdowns I knew I had the lead so I knew it was just a matter of time before I touch him back to the body and he don’t get up or I catch him with a good headshot and put on an onslaught like I did at the end.
YOU GOT CUT IN THIS FIGHT BUT YOU CORNER TOOK CARE OF IT REALLY FAST. IT LOOKED LIKE THEY STOPPED THE BLEEDING IN A ROUND OR TWO. WHAT’S YOUR CUTMAN’S NAME?
My cutman is Aaron Navarro. Great guy and great cutman. I’ve been with him for years now, ever since I was fighting in Louisiana. Never had a cut like that before, that was my first cut. Smoger called it a punch. I went back and watched film, I don’t see no punch. In the fight I didn’t think it was a punch, I thought it was a clash of heads but either way it was my first cut I’ve ever had and I had to get four stiches in. The good thing is it was only leaking on the side of the eyebrow not into my eye. When I got back to the corner, Aaron jumped in and as soon as he looked at it he said, “this ain’t nothing, give me two rounds and I’ll have this stopped.” When I came out the corner for that round it never bled again. He stopped it immediately that round and did a great job on it.
YOU’VE HAD TWO SHOWTIME APPEARANCES AND TWO KNOCKOUTS. THAT’S KIND OF A GIFT AND A CURSE. I’M SURE THE NETWORK WANTS YOU BACK BUT MOST TITLEHOLDERS ARE GONNA BE RELUCTANT TO STEP IN THE RING WITH YOU. IDEALLY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THE NEXT 12 MONTHS TO PLAY OUT.
Of course everybody wants a big title shot. I just recently called out Flanagan because I know Verdejo just had an accident and he had to pull out the mandatory. I think I’m a good contender for it. The momentum is rolling so why not try to grab that fight and grab a world title. I doubt he’d take the fight. I just don’t see him wanting to fight a dangerous fighter who’s on a roll right now. I think he’s going to probably look for something a little easier. But hopefully within the next two fights I’ll be in a world title fight. Hopefully the beginning of next year some time we will be in a world title fight. That would be the ideal timing.
MASON, I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING THE TIME TO DO THIS INTERVIEW AND I WISH YOU THE BEST IN YOUR NEXT FIGHT AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN THE RING AGAIN.
No problem and thank you for having me and interviewing me. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
For more from Mason Menard you can reach him at @rockhardmighty on Twitter.