By Jake Donovan
It was a hell of a week for Hank Lundy, who spent all week overcoming countless obstacles.
The only one he couldn’t clear was the one that mattered most - the battle in the ring.
Raymundo Beltran scored the biggest win of his career, outworking Lundy down the stretch to pull out a majority decision in their 10-round lightweight bout Friday evening in Atlantic City.
Scores were 95-95 (even) and 96-94 in favor of Beltran, whose slightly busier workrate proved to be the difference in a tightly contested ESPN2 Friday Night Fights headliner.
The first couple of rounds played out exactly according to the scouting report. Lundy was the busier fighter, boxing well and mixing in power shots. Beltran made his presence felt, keeping Lundy honest and seemed to close the gap with each exchange.
Beltran scored with a left hook midway through the second round that subtly changed the tempo of the fight – only he didn’t seem to pick up on it at the time. It wasn’t until a round later when a dramatic momentum shift occurred. Beltran fought through blood streaming along the left side of his face to pin Lundy and put him in serious trouble.
Lundy has been dropped repeatedly in the past. His one loss came via knockout against Johnny Molina in a fight in which he was way ahead at the time of the stoppage. As he stood along the ropes absorbing a barrage of power shots against Beltran, however, Lundy refused to cave in.
With a lightweight title at stake, the Philly fighting spirit shone through as Lundy managed a left hook out of nowhere just before the bell. The shot landed just as Beltran scored with one of his own. It was clear who got the better of the exchange as Beltran stumbled backwards towards center ring.
Both fighters were still buzzed enough to where they both thought the round had ended. Beltran extended his glove to Lundy as a sign of respect, though the sequence came two seconds before the bell actually rang to end what is a surefire contender for Round of the Year.
Beltran followed up with a solid fourth round to seemingly even things up on the scorecards, or perhaps even surge ahead if any saw a close second round go in his favor.
Lundy resumed control midway through the fight, slipping Beltran’s incoming while never traveling far, always in position to return fire. The lightweight contender switched back and forth between conventional and southpaw stance, though not necessarily enjoying success from both sides of the plate. Worse, his lack of aggression allowed Beltran to linger around.
It proved to be the biggest mistake he’d make in a week full of mishaps.
While the perception from the broadcast team at ringside was that Lundy began to pull away on the cards, online fan voting suggested the fight was very much on the table heading down the stretch. Score this one for the fans and also for Beltran, who has a history of finding ways to come up just short in winnable fights.
This time around, the Mexican trialhorse sensed something dramatic in the air and refused to back down. Beltran was simply the busier fighter in the final two rounds, even if Lundy offered the perception of being in control. The judges sided with workrate, as Beltran’s burst of energy down the stretch proved to be enough to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The end result was as shocking to the crowd as it was deflating to Lundy and to those who invested their time, energy and money into his career. The once-beaten lightweight was being groomed for a title shot and was even being sold by some as a possible future opponent for unbeaten Adrien Broner, who will be fighting as a full-time lightweight as early as October.
Lundy himself planted the seed for a desired showing with Broner, verbally trashing the former 130 lb. titlist throughout fight week for the lack of professionalism exuded heading into last weekend's HBO headliner.
While nothing is forever in boxing and there is plenty of time for Lundy to bounce back, all championship aspirations are clearly on hold.
Meanwhile, Beltran picks up the biggest win of his struggling career as he improves to 26-2 (22KO). The 31-year old was just .500 in his previous six contests heading into Friday evening, but at the very least positions himself for a nice payday in his next ring appearance.
Lundy’s style will always make for fun TV fights, as evidenced by his seven consecutive appearances on ESPN2. Friday’s result, however, could keep him on the Friday Night Fights circuit longer than expected. A four-fight win streak comes to an end as he falls to 22-1-1 (11KO).
The loss caps what has been a trying week for the Philly native and his camp.
Prior to the fight, Lundy’s current promoter Classic Sports and Entertainment (CES) was forced to send its legal team to court to fight an injunction filed by another promoter (Boxing 360) to have Friday’s fight blocked. A New York State court of law ruled to dismiss the injunction, though that merely cleared the way for this particular bout to take place.
Still awaiting Lundy and CES is a lawsuit filed by Boxing 360, a New York-based company who claims exclusive rights to the lightweight contender based on a signed promotional pact entered in Dec. ’10. Lundy apparently signed with the company three months after doing so with CES, but also one month after he was granted bankruptcy status.
Who he was fighting for this weekend was the least of Lundy’s worries on Thursday evening, as his only battle which mattered at that point was the one with the official scales. Lundy initially missed weight by 1.2 lb, but thanks to a rule in the NABF championship bylaws was given two hours to make weight rather than the revised one extra hour now granted by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission.
All told, Lundy needed four tries before finally coming within the lightweight limit as the scale ready 134.8 lb on his last attempt.
There would be no second chance in the ring on Friday night. After 10 rounds, Lundy wasn’t given another chance to overcome the two points he came up short on two cards.
In the televised co-feature, Farah Ennis (20-1, 12KO) cruised to a unanimous decision win over Richard Pierson (11-3, 8KO).
Scores were 99-91 and 98-92 (twice) in their 10-round super middleweight bout that never shifted gears. Ennis was steady throughout, even if not given much of a challenge from Pierson.
Ennis has now won three straight, while Pierson watches his own three-fight win streak come to an end.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox