By Cliff Rold
The road to contention is never easy, a lesson 27-year old Lightweight Henry "Hank" Lundy (20-1-1, 10 KO) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, learned in his first defeat two fights ago and a lesson he’s appeared to learn from in a pair of victories since. Showing speed, skill, and discipline, Lundy scored an early knockdown and never lost his lead against game 33-year old Venezuelan Patrick Lopez (20-4, 12 KO) of Londonderry, New Hampshire, over ten rounds on Friday night at the Foxwoods Hotel and Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Photos by Emily Harney
Lopez came in spot on the Lightweight limit at 135 lbs., Lundy a hair under at 134 ¾.
Lundy, the faster man, was a ball of nerves in the first, his ever move deliberate as he sought to find a rhythm while Lopez paced forward. A lead right early in the frame stated his intentions. Fighting tall, Lopez too was rigid in his motion, trying to walk Lundy to the ropes where he could hope to lay heavier hands on his man.
A former two-time Olympian, Lopez showed educated feints in the second, opening a lead right early in the round. Deft, subtle head movement made both man hard to catch clean until the final thirty seconds. Exploding out of a southpaw stance, Lundy caught Lopez with a lead left hand bomb and put Lopez on the seat of his pants. Lopez easily beat the count of referee Eddie Cotton but faced further adversity in the third when a clash of heads opened a cut below the right eye.
Lundy continued to use speed to stay a step ahead of Lopez, the Venezuelan too willing to wage a technical contest with Lundy and losing the critical battle of the jabs. It took until late in the sixth round for Lopez to genuinely threaten a coasting Lundy, a right hand snaking through the guard in the waning seconds, followed with another hard Lopez right before the bell.
Emboldened to start the seventh, Lopez stepped out with a purpose and caught Lundy with a long left off his own southpaw right jab. By the minute mark of the round, Lundy was comfortably landing quick combinations and countering well when backed to the ropes. A cut dripping blood from the corner of his right eye, Lundy showed no panic but wisely kept his distance between moments of flying leather.
Both men landed hard, booming blows in the eighth, Lundy’s more eye catching but Lopez critically thudding to the body. Showing the lessons of his stoppage loss to John Molina two fights ago, Lundy wisely moved in the ninth, avoiding exchanges with Lopez at a point when physical strength was becoming a larger factor. When finally pinned down, Lundy absorbed big lefts and fired back with accuracy and spirit off the strands.
With a single round to go, Lopez appeared likely to need at least a knockdown to have a shot at victory, something that seemed possible given his gritty surge in the scoring late. Bouncing on his toes at center ring, Lundy attempted to convey that he was little fatigued. His face a mask of focus and determination to finish, Lundy kept his feet moving and his head wisely slipping shots, only occasionally loading up with pot shots to keep Lopez honest.
Exhausted from his own charge, Lopez began to catch rights in the final minute, flush and to the dashing of any turnaround hopes. Lundy wouldn’t let himself get caught and Lopez couldn’t stop from being tagged down the stretch. The scorecards rightly favored Lundy at 95-94, 97-92, and a perhaps too wide 99-91.
It was the first time the judges were needed during the televised portion of the card, each of the two support bouts ending before half their scheduled rounds were complete.
In the Super Middleweight swing bout, 30-year old former Middleweight title challenger Elvin Ayala (22-5-1, 10 KO), 168 ½, of New Haven, Connecticut used educated hooks and some digging body work to drop 35-year old Joe Gardner (7-2, 1 KO), 169 ¼, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, in the fourth round. It was enough to convince Gardner to call it a night early, electing not to come out for the bell to start the fifth round. The referee was Eddie Claudio.
The televised opener gave fans a look at promising 28-year old Super Middleweight Vladine Biosse (11-0, 6 KO), 168, of Providence, Rhode Island. The southpaw Bossine dropped 28-year old Tim Connors (10-3, 7 KO), 167 ¼, of St. Louis, Missouri, with a barrage in the second but Connors battled on. In the fifth, a series of left hands spelled the end. The first landed just behind the head of Connors, followed by a blocked right hook, a left just below the ear and then, finally, the clean, sharp left across the jaw Biosse was looking for. Connor rose before referee Eddie Claudio finished the count but made no real effort to continue and was saved further punishment at 37 seconds of round five.
The card was televised on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Jimmy Burchfield/CES.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]