If you see Sebastian Fundora walking into the ring, you are not sure of a knockout or a dunk.
The highest super welter weight in anyone’s memory is ranked number 7 in their division by the WBC. He’s not going up the ladder. He’s up the ladder, as his second round knockout Saturday night showed, preparing for Errol Spence’s welterweight defense against Danny Garcia.
Before that, 36-year-old Josesito Lopez, the Riverside Rocky, extended his comeback. He handed out a 12-round TKO to Francisco Santana, from Santa Barbara, a beating unnecessarily prolonged by referee Neil Young, who had no heart of gold. Lopez is 38-8 and has won five of his past six.
Fundora is the real outlier of the fighting game, the only guy you wouldn’t pick from a lineup to identify a boxer.
This is also the key to his eventual fame. There are no degrees of uniqueness, and Fundora is all alone in his world, a left-handed man six feet tall.
The only man who did not lose to Fundora was Jamontay Clark, who himself is six feet tall. He’s also the only opponent to rival Fundora’s 80-inch range. The two fought for a tie on August 31 last year in Minneapolis. A judge gave Fundora six points preference.
Otherwise, the “Towering Inferno” has 15 wins, 10 by knockout, and doesn’t turn up until December 23rd. He was supposed to fight Jorge Cota, who has been in the ring with champions Jermall Charlo and Jeison Rosario, but Cota came up with COVID-19.
The promoters fund Habib Ahmed, who brought a 27-1-1 record from Ghana, but never fought below the 160-pound middleweight limit. Ahmed lost to 168 pounds King Gilberto Ramirez two years ago. He had no chance.
Fundora’s age and ease of weight make it unnecessary for him to rush. He said he is running at 154 and would have no problem becoming the world’s highest welterweight (147 pounds).
“I’m on the seabed diet,” said Fundora. “Everything I see, I eat.”
Boxing is not a beanstalk game. Paul Williams was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 2012. It had a range of 79 inches. He shared two fights with Sergio Martinez and he defeated Antonio Margarito and was 41-2 when it all ended.
Williams was primarily a welterweight, and when Manny Pacquiao was asked if he wanted to fight Williams, he kept staring up and up until he saw the ceiling. In other words, no.
Still, Williams was only 6 feet tall. He too would be blinded by the lights against Fundora.
“I was six feet tall when I was 14 years old,” said Fundora. ‘I looked down on everyone. Then I went to 6-3, 6-4, 6-5 … I said that’s it, I don’t want to grow anymore.
“I never felt it was a disadvantage. There aren’t many people like me, and then you add that I’m a left-handed, that’s an awkward style for everyone. ”
With all that, Fundora throws another curveball. Rather than positioning himself outside the fray, he can get low to take offense. That’s why he has 10 knockouts out of his 15 wins.
“I’ve always had a good inside game,” said Fundora. “That’s what I was preparing for, because I knew I would have to get there eventually.”
Basketball always comes up, of course, but Fundora said he gave it a try and “couldn’t even dribble, I didn’t even get my letter of consent.”
It was always boxing. The family lived in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Dad Freddy, an ex-boxer and Cuban immigrant, grew them all up in the gym.
The family drove from coast to coast to tournaments, two parents, five kids with another on the way, and a pit bull. They often fought at Coachella and liked it, and moved there when Sebastian was eight. Three of his five siblings also box.
“It’s quiet, it’s beautiful, you can be alone,” Sebastian said. “And it’s closer to the amateur events.”
He also said Freddy negotiated some of their bus trips in two and a half days, meaning Freddy could become a world champion in the heavy-footed division. Two and a half days from Florida? “I always saw his foot swell from so much driving,” Sebastian said.
Sampson Lefkowicz, whose client list includes Martinez and Lucas Matthysse, told Freddy he didn’t want to manage Sebastian. Too skinny, too much risk. Freddy asked him to watch Fundora’s next three fights. That’s all it took.
As usual, Fundora handled this fight with impeccable composure. When asked what it takes to get into fight mode, he said, “I just need to take off my glasses.”
So maybe you CAN hit what you can’t see.