By Boxing Bob Newman
Photo: Bob Newman
Until April 15, 2016, barely anyone in the boxing world knew who Mason Menard was- that is, unless you were a boxing fan somewhere in the state of Louisiana, where Menard fought 30 of his first 31 pro fights. Then Menard, with his gaudy 30-1, 22 KOs record came north to Verona, New York on a Shobox televised card against undefeated Dominican Eudy Bernardo (21-0, 15 KOs). Menard was brought in to test the vaunted Bernardo, but it was Bernardo who failed the exam, via a highlight reel one-punch KO from the self-anointed “Rock Hard Mighty” Menard in the third round.
After the knockout of the year type showing, Showtime wasted no time in bringing Menard back on their airwaves and back up north to New York again, this time to Rochester and the friendly confines of Rhino’s Stadium for an outdoor show under the stars.
This time it was Uzbek slugger Bahodin Mamadjonov (18-2, 11 KOs) who would be across the ring in the opposite corner. A far cry from the 5’10” Bernardo, “Baha” was a more compact 5’7″ Southpaw. Menard had some problems in the first half of the fight, given Mamadjonov’s awkward style and a cut which opened over his left eye. In fact, after the six of the scheduled ten rounds, Menard was trailing on two cards 58-56 and even on the third at 57-57.
Just like that, Menard’s power turned things around with two right hands- one straight to the face and the other to the body which each dropped Mamadjonov for a 10-7 round and a swing in the momentum. Two rounds later, A flurry of blows battered Mamadjonov so badly, that after referee Steve Smoger stepped in to break a clinch, the dazed Uzbek toppled over and out, Smoger waving matters off at 2:26 of the ninth.
Fightnews caught up with Menard by phone as he sat awaiting his flight back home to Bayou country with his new NABO belt in tow. Here’s what the well mannered Menard had to say about the fight and his future in the lightweight division…
First of all, congratulations on your win last night.
Thank you, sir.
Did you know anything about him? Did you know he was a lefty going into the fight?
Yeah, we knew he was a lefty going into the fight. We took that fight on about two weeks notice. They couldn’t find me an opponent and he was already scheduled to fight on the card. When they called me about the fight, I said, “Yeah, I’ll take it.” I gotta beat guys like this. I knew it would be a hard, difficult fight. I was just curious of how awkward he would be. He caught me with some shots. I wasn’t on my “A-game,” but you know, we ended up getting the job done in the end.
It was a close fight after six rounds. You were losing on two cards and even on the third. You were cut a few rounds before that. Did the cut bother you?
I was cut about the second or third round I think. No, it didn’t bother me, not one bit.
How many Southpaws had you fought before him? Did you need to adjust to his stance or style?
I fought three of them, maybe. His style was awkward. I mean, the other ones I fought came straight forward and stayed right there so I was able to work better angles and stuff like that on them. Unfortunately, with him I wasn’t able to work my angles I’da liked. My feet were a little more planted than usual. I’m usually moving a little more. It all had to do with his style of fighting. It took me a little bit to catch onto him. You know, styles make fights.
Most fighters say they don’t go for the knockout, if it comes, it comes. Were you ever at a point where you felt you were in for a distance fight? What was your mindset going into this and then during the fight?
Oh, going into the fight, I knew it was either go the distance or the late rounds. Because I knew it would take me a few rounds to figure him out and see how it would go unless I would land a big shot. You know that’s kinda how I did with Eudy Bernardo. I figured it (this fight) would go the later rounds. I predicted a seventh round stoppage and I wasn’t far off.
Were you able to talk to him after the fight at all?
No, I wasn’t able to talk to him. He doesn’t speak much English, I don’t believe. I’ve heard him say very few words.
So this was four months since your last fight against Bernardo which was only three rounds. Did you feel any rust or had you been in the gym pretty regular since then?
Well, you know I do my sparring. The thing is, I haven’t gotten in too many rounds in the past two years because of my hand surgery. My tune up fight was a minute and thirty seconds. Eudy Bernardo was three rounds. So I was praying to get some rounds in and look strong. Even though I got caught with some shots, we know we can take a pretty good shot. My opponent had pretty decent power so….at the end of the day, I got the job done. I dropped him twice with two body shots and got him outta there in nine.
So tell me about your hand surgery. What hand was it and what was the nature of the injury?
It was my right hand. I had two metacarpal bones lodged outta place and I had been fighting with that for about five years. Every fight I would hurt it within three to five rounds. Fights like Oscar Bravo went eight and Lonnie Smith went twelve. Usually between three and five I’d end up hurting it again, re-hurting it. I’d have to finish the fight basically with one hand.
So the surgery was successful and you haven’t had any problems with it since?
No sir. It’s been feeling 100%. In my last two fights, it’s been the right hand that’s been setting them up and it’s usually the left hook that gets them outta there. I’m grateful that the surgery was a success.
What do you feel winning this WBO/NABO title will do for you? Prior to this fight you were ranked WBO #13. Do you feel this win will get you into the top ten?
Yes, I was told it should get me top five. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. But you gotta give credit to my opponent that I fought, because he’s a credible fighter. We knew he wouldn’t be an easy fight because his only two losses were to a former world title holder in a split decision (Darleys Perez) and he was stopped in eight by Richard Commey who is gonna fight for the IBF (title), so it was another step up for me and I succeeded.
You’ve got 33 fights now. Guys are offered title shots with 18 fights or less these days. If you were offered a shot at WBO champ Terry Flanagan, would you take it? Do you feel ready, or do you feel there’s no rush?
I mean…I’m not in a rush. But if they offered the fight and it made sense business-wise, I’d jump on it. I’d jump on it. I got some rounds that I needed. I got a video that I can go back and look at and make adjustments to my training and everything. I’m ready for a fight like that anytime.
Would you take it if it meant going over to the UK?
As long as it made sense business-wise and we were comfortable, we’d take it. Like with this fight, they said, “We can’t find him an opponent, but we got this guy (Mamadjonov).” They had trouble finding opponents for him because he’s dangerous and a southpaw. When they called me about him, I said, “I have to beat guys like this to get to the next level.” We called Greg back in two minutes and said we’d take the fight. Greg was like, “Wow! We’re not used to guys taking fights that quick!” I’m not scared of anybody. I fear no man. At the end of the day, we gonna get it on and may the best man win.
Have you seen Terry Flanagan fight at all?
Not at all. I really don’t watch video on fighters. I mean I might watch a few seconds just to get an idea of their style, then fast forward to the later rounds. I let the cornermen do the rest. When it comes to the ring, I listen to the game plan and make changes. We gotta do what we gotta do in the ring.
Well Mason, it was a revelation seeing you up North here in your last fight, since there was very little known about you. This fight was a gut check and you passed it.
Yes sir. Fights like that are what make a great fighter. You have to be able to come through adversity and stay strong mentally throughout the fight and not give up and that’s exactly what I displayed.
And with that, the mild-mannered Menard had to board his flight back home. He thanks Fightnews.com® for the opportunity to be heard and looks forward to more post-victory interviews in the future.