By Ryan Maquiñana
Henry Lundy knows what it’s like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
After dominating the first seven rounds against John Molina last July, his confidence grew to the point where he kept his hands increasingly at his sides. As a result, one overhand right hand connected flush on Lundy’s jaw, abruptly turning the tide and sending him to the canvas. By the 11th, Molina had worn Lundy down and eventually stopped him for the NABO lightweight title.
Rather than get discouraged, however, Lundy (20-1-1, 10 KOs) has put together consecutive impressive displays over the past year to land him a televised co-feature against former world titlist “Dangerous” David Diaz (36-3-1, 17 KOs) later tonight on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
“I just fought a tough southpaw in Patrick Lopez,” the 27-year-old Lundy said. “He was a bigger opponent, but David Diaz is more my size. I don’t see this going the whole ten rounds.
An orthodox boxer known for his savvy ring generalship and use of distance to set up his offense, the Philadelphia native known as "Hammerin' Hank" reflected on the Molina fight with a hint of defiance, as the sole loss on his record is something he still can’t believe occurred.
“I tell everybody in the Molina fight, I was sick as a dog,” Lundy recalled. “My trainer didn’t want me to fight, and I still did it. I was throwing up. I had diarrhea like five minutes before the fight. Molina didn’t beat me. I beat myself. He was supposed to be a big puncher, but that shot (in the seventh) was supposed to knock me out cold. But I got up and still won the round. Look, I beat myself.”
Lundy insists he has attempted numerous times to get a rematch with Molina to no avail.
“I’m taking tougher and tougher fights since I won the NABF, and making them look easier. But he’s over there with the NABO belt now and he’s been ducking and dodging me,” Lundy argued.
In his last two outings, Lundy has looked more like a seasoned veteran than a brash upstart. A whitewash on the cards against the very tough Omri Lowther was followed by another points victory over Patrick Lopez in April that landed him the NABF 135-pound strap.
“After the Molina fight, we got better and better,” Lundy said. “Having more time to build my relationship with my relatively new trainer in the gym and him understanding where I want to go was important. On my end, everything he’s showed me, I’ve learned and gravitated to. I’m still learning every day.”
Now comes his latest test yet, his first tangle with a former world champion in Chicago’s Diaz, a durable, slugging southpaw who has had a propensity to trade heavy leather with titlists including Manny Pacquiao, Erik Morales, Kendall Holt, Jesus Chavez, and Humberto Soto.
“That’s going to work to my advantage,” Lundy said of Diaz’s style. “It’s going to be like a bull and a matador. He comes forward, and with my speed and lateral movement, I see him running into my punches. The key is using my speed. We also know that he’s slow and he doesn’t have defense. He’s going to try to get in my chest, and my trainer Sloane Harrison and I have worked on a plan to minimize all that.”
Where a victory will place Lundy among the other lightweights is anyone’s guess. However, if you ask him, he thinks he deserves a opportunity to fight for a world title, especially when noting that seven out of his last 11 opponents were either unbeaten or had one loss on their records.
“What more do I have to do to get a world title?” he asked aloud. “Everyone I’ve beat, I’ve exposed. If you look at my track record, I don’t fight bums. I’m one of those fighters that when you put somebody in front of me, no matter who it is, I figure out their style and I’m going to win the fight.”
With the NABF’s connection to the WBC, perhaps making a gameplan to start gunning for the winner of October’s showdown between Antonio DeMarco and Jorge Linares for the vacant title could be in Lundy’s cards.
“I want any belt that’s out there,” Lundy declared. “They better get ready for me. I would love to fight DeMarco for the WBC if he wins. He’s another tall southpaw, and we’d take that fight in a second. DeMarco, Linares, whoever. The best is yet to come. We’re going to shock the world. Mark my word.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and The Ring’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.