Upon announcement, Sebastian Fundora-Erickson Lubin was the sort of scrap fight fans knew to look forward to.
Both young, both hungry, both with question marks, Fundora-Lubin was a fight that was going to tell us something. It was going to be hard for it not to be a good fight.
It was better than good.
The 6’5, impossibly 154-lb Fundora got the win and stayed undefeated while Lubin deepened his esteem. Lubin was down and hurt in the second round only to come back in the next couple rounds and stand his ground with accurate, hard punching. Fundora, often tripling Lubin’s output, just wouldn’t be denied.
The seventh round will be a candidate for the best three minutes of the year. Fundora beat the living hell out of Lubin for most of the frame, landing his wicked uppercut over and over. Then, late in the round, Lubin exploded to hurt and drop Fundora. A dislodged mouthpiece bought Fundora some time and he matured before our eyes.
Keeping his composure, Fundora reasserted himself in the eighth and then again was dishing a beating to a Lubin whose face was a swollen mass. Trainer Kevin Cunningham stopped the action after the round, saving Lubin for another day and protecting him from his own bravery.
It was a spectacular drama.
Futures: Fundora won an interim WBC belt and is now in line for the winner of Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano II. Should Fundora’s team push for that immediately? Maybe not. Fundora is only 24 and they’ve done a good job keeping him active. Fundora showed guts and offensive talent Saturday but his defense is still a work in progress. In the seventh, a case can be made that Fundora got a little too greedy and may have punched himself out before he got dropped. More experience will help him iron out his most effective aggression. If Fundora’s team opts for another fight or two of development, Jr. middleweight is certainly rich with good fighters to keep him active. Former titlist Tony Harrison, a winner on the undercard, would be one intriguing option and provide fans another quality top-ten clash.
The loss is rough for Lubin. It was his second by stoppage but, unlike a first round shelling from Charlo, this was a more comprehensive defeat. Lubin fought his heart out and it just wasn’t enough. It might be a theme for Fundora opponents as Fundora hits his stride. The size and volume Fundora presents is unlike anything else in the division. It doesn’t mean Lubin is done. He entered Saturday riding a six-fight wins streak and remains talented. He’ll recover and get more chances. Defeats happen and they are just one chapter in anyone’s story.
A fighter looking to avenge their only defeat took a big step earlier in the day.
Golovkin Unifies Again
For years, middleweight Gennadiy Golovkin reigned as some version of WBA titlist, eventually gaining their full title and then adding the IBF and WBC belts. A controversial draw with Saul Alvarez in 2017 left him short of history’s middleweight crown. A debated, highly competitive rematch in 2018 left Golovkin without titles for the first time in years.
Golovkin has fought only four times since, winning back the vacant IBF belt in 2019 and Saturday he regained the WBA strap with a knockout of 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Ryota Murata. Neither man was in action in 2021, and Murata wasn’t in action in 2020 either. They picked up well enough when the bell rang. Murata had some good moments early, stinging Golovkin to the body, but around the fifth round the class took over.
Murata is a solid pro. Golovkin was the best middleweight in the world for a long time and had experience Murata simply won’t acquire. At 40, Golovkin might not have looked like he did five years ago but he still looked pretty good once he hit his rhythm. For a few rounds, he looked like he might be on the road to being an old fighter. As the fight wore on, he looked like an aging fighter who had shaken off some rust. Battering with the jab, right hand, and some timely whacks to the body, Golovkin broke Murata down and handed him his first stoppage loss.
Futures: The future for Golovkin was already penciled in before the fight. He needed a win to set up a third fight with Alvarez, this time as a challenger for the super middleweight throne. Golovkin won. He’s in. Now the boxing world will wait to see what happens when Alvarez challenges WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol. Alvarez, who is favored to win, could theoretically lose that fight and still defend his titles at 168 pounds. What a loss looked like if it occurred would be something to look for.
Alvarez will be favored against Golovkin but that doesn’t mean their fight is a foregone conclusion. They’ve spent 24 rounds together and Golovkin has arguably won more of them. Both clashes were highly competitive. It would be no shock if their third fight ends up being another gem. It might not be the most competitive available fight for Alvarez on paper, but once the bell rings it’s likely to have been worth the wait.
For Murata, could this have been the end? Out of the ring since 2019, and already 36, it’s hard to see where Murata goes from here. He might be an attractive opponent for the right middleweight but there isn’t an immediate path to a title and for a man with less than 20 fights since turning pro in 2013, it’s unlikely he gets substantially more active. He accounted well for himself Saturday. It doesn’t get easier from here.
Mikaela Mayer kept up her winning ways at Jr. lightweight. A unification clash with Alycia Bumgardner would be entertaining in and out of the ring. Hopefully, with unification fever everywhere right now, we can get to that clash later this year…Ryan Garcia resumed his career after over a year away, winning and showing off what remain very quick hands. Opponent Emanuel Tagoe largely came to survive and did, with Garcia never really able to consistently cut off the ring or find a way to impress. Every win doesn’t have to turn heads and this one didn’t but it’s a step back for a Garcia who has dealt with issues outside the ring. Garcia’s name is going to keep coming up with other big name lightweights and eventually it will come up with an actual notable fight in the offing.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.