New York – Saturday evening was a boxing bonanza for fight fans and lived up to expectations with PBC televised on Showtime, Top Rank (ESPN) and Golden Boy, (DAZN stream) highlighted with the return of lightweight Ryan Garcia and a successful win.
But Sebastian Fundora, the 24-year old Mexican-American has become a sensation. He got the name “Towering Inferno” because of his six-foot-six-inch height that paved his way to success as opponents have discovered there is a distinct height and reach advantage. Saturday evening, he faced his toughest test and neared in for an opportunity at the Super Lightweight title.
Fundora and Erickson Lubin lived up to expectations in a fight for the interim WBC Super Welterweight title on Showtime Championship Boxing from the The Theater at Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas. Both fighters hit the canvas and Fundora prevailed via TKO after nine rounds.
Fundora and Lubin hit the canvas with powerful punches. The end, though, resulted in the Lubin corner not allowing their fighter to continue after a barrage of punches displayed punishment to his face that required immediate medical attention.
The bout was described as an instant classic and in that category as consideration for fight of the year as the boxing season begins to pick up within the next few months.
It was Fundora who struck first with a sweeping right uppercut that sent Lubin to the mat during the final seconds of round two.
“I think this was probably my best performance ever,” said Fundora. “It was a back-and-forth fight. He really brought his hammer but I decided to bring my drill. The uppercut was landing like no other. The uppercut is my lucky punch. I’m here in Vegas, so I feel a little lucky, and that’s my lucky punch. It lands most of the time with everybody. Southpaw. Right hand. It doesn’t matter. Once I find that, I feel like the job’s done.”
Despite appearing on shaky legs after round two, Lubin recovered in the final minute of round three to bloody Fundora with a series of headshots. Lubin won three of the first four rounds on all three scorecards, buoyed by a bruising body attack against his taller opponent.
In round seven, Fundora and Lubin engaged in a Round of the Year candidate, as both men took serious damage. Fundora’s nonstop volume began to show on Lubin’s face, which started to swell up from damage. However, Lubin turned the tide with a series of hooks that eventually forced Fundora to take a knee, the first time he’s been down as a pro.
“I got hit with a good punch and I didn’t feel like I needed to get hit again so I took a knee to get a little breather in and I recovered,” said Fundora. “I intentionally took a knee. I knew I had to take a knee because if I kept getting hit like that it wouldn’t be smart for me and I wouldn’t be able to recollect myself.”
After the knockdown, Fundora recovered and out-landed Lubin 26 to 12 and 28 to 3 in rounds eight and nine respectively, according to CompuBox. Overall, Fundora out-landed Lubin 255 to 149, while Lubin held a 40% to 36% advantage in punch accuracy. Lubin had early success with his jab, landing 18 over the first three rounds, but only connected on 15 throughout the rest of the action.
With swelling continuing to grow around Lubin’s face, his trainer Kevin Cunningham asked referee Russell Mora to stop the fight, officially ending the action via a TKO after nine rounds. At the time of the stoppage, Lubin led 85-84 on two judges’ cards, with the third judge scoring the fight 85-85.
“I think it was a good decision for Kevin Cunningham to stop the fight,” said Fundora. “His face shifted from round one to round nine. It completely morphed and there was a lot of blood coming out. He’s a tough fighter. He was in the game the whole time but there’s no need to get hurt that much.”
The win places Fundora in position to face the winner of the undisputed 154-pound title rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castaño, taking place May 14 on SHOWTIME.
“I see Charlo winning the fight against Castaño,” said Fundora. “I feel like he’ll be too strong for Castaño the second time. If Castaño wins, that’s great too. I just want to go after all of them. This is the interim belt so I want the world champion title. I want the real deal.”
In the co-main event, former super welterweight world champion Tony Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs) cruised to a unanimous decision, nearly shutting out contender Sergio Garcia (33-2, 14 KOs) across 10-rounds.
“I pitched a shutout against a guy who just fought a guy that’s in the main event right now,” said Harrison. “Muscles are the way in the street, but skills pay the bills.”
“All I needed to do was land one good punch, but I didn’t,” said Garcia. “Harrison fought his fight and was very smart with his jab and his elusiveness, major credit to him.”
GARCIA RETURN GOES DISTANCE: lightweight Ryan “KingRy” Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) the Mexican-American from Victorville, CA, returned on Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and took a unanimous decision Emmanuel Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs) out of Ghana over twelve rounds to win easily 119-108 twice and 118-109 on the scorecards.
The 23-year old Garcia went the distance for the first time in a fight streamed on DAZN and made a successful rerun after a hiatus of setbacks that included a bout with mental illness and surgery to his hand. Garcia dropped Tagoe in round two after a double right and overall looked impressive. Garcia has been calling for a fight with three-time champion Gervonta Davis and current WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney.
It was the first fight for Garcia since his seventh round knockout over British Olympian Luke Campbell in the beginning of January 2021, where he bounced back after a second round knockdown. He parted ways with trainer Eddy Reynoso, known for propelling unified 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez and took on Joe Goosen the veteran and FOX Sports boxing analyst.
“Nothing but respect for Tagoe, crafty. He was moving a lot, I have to cut off the ring a little better,: Garcia said after his win. “I think if I would have pressed him harder in the beginning, I may have gotten him out of there. It was a track down fight as I had to track him down. Felt great with Joe Goossen. Very comfortable in the ring. I love Joe.”
He said about fighting Davis, “I have been all about the callouts but I have grown and matured and I will let my team handle it.”
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer with Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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