LAS VEGAS – Brian Mendoza took a late call to come in against Los Angeles-based Ukrainian Serhii Bohachuk less than two weeks ago after Bohachuk’s original foe, Sebastian Fundora, found himself in the main event against Tim Tszyu.

Tomorrow, Mendoza might be wishing he had not picked up that call, having lost this fight for the WBC interim super welterweight title over 12 rounds at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Bohachuk was a solid and methodical force who kept coming until the final bell, as he improved to 24-1 (23 KOs), astonishingly winning by a decision for the first time in 25 starts.

Mendoza is now 22-4 (16 KOs), but the winner now has the king of tonight’s headliner between Tszyu and Fundora firmly in their sights.

After an exploratory opener, both fighters let their hands go in the second. Mendoza’s face started to quickly redden, but he clipped Bohachuk with a number of right uppercuts as Bohachuk stepped to him.

Bohachuk, head down behind a tight guard, burrowed forward through the third, applying steady pressure and aggression, and he was able to arc his right hand around Mendoza’s left with some frequency.

Mendoza cracked Bohachuk with a left hook midway through the fifth, but at the end of the session he gulped down a right uppercut and left hook and looked annoyed at himself for doing so.

Bohachuk, trained by Manny Robles, consistently tracked the Vegas-based Albuquerque man into the corners, and he was able to do more work on the front foot than Mendoza was on the back foot.

Mendoza’s head was pushed back by a left hook in the seventh as Bohachuk kept grinding forward, slotting home some rights hands and racking up the rounds.

Mendoza landed a left to the body in the eighth that only served to draw a smile from his opponent and then, with Mendoza’s nose leaking blood, he absorbed another right from Bohachuk at the bell. Bohachuk landed heavy shots on the inside and while Mendoza’s chin couldn’t be faulted, he winced when he took a left hook clean in the face in the ninth.

By this point, it seemed Mendoza’s best shot was one from the gods, the kind of lightning bolt he caught Sebastian Fundora with last April, but Bohachuk was too fundamentally sound and too alert to present such an opportunity.

The rounds were similar and the work was hard, but the action was often unspectacular, and Mendoza was consistently on the wrong side of the exchanges.

Bohachuk did not deviate from the plan and did not slow.

However, with around 30 seconds of the 11th round remaining, Mendoza crashed home a right uppercut and followed up with a flurry of left hooks as Bohachuk covered up on the ropes.

The tide, however, had not turned.

While Mendoza, who had banked sparring rounds with main-eventer Tszyu in the build-up, tried to find gaps for that right uppercut again through the 12th, the moment had gone.

Bohachuk won by margins of 118-110 and 117-111 (twice).

Sporting a badly swollen jaw, Mendoza said: “I’ve always had that chin, I was trying not to rely on it tonight.”

Bohachuk paid tribute to his countrymen and women, currently defending themselves in a war with Russia, saying: “This victory is for Ukraine and our people who have hard times right now. Hold on, we will win.”