For years, Hank Lundy has been a promoter’s dream, a throwback fighter willing to fight anyone, anywhere at any given time regardless of the risk involved.
In football, he’d be your prototypical gunslinger quarterback, the fearless, yet gifted, pocket-passer unafraid to launch it down the field into triple coverage.
With no risk, there’s no reward, and Lundy (24-3-1, 11 KOs) is living proof. This past weekend, the 30-year-old Philadelphia lightweight took another gamble, dropping back down to 135 pounds and traveling to Don King’s hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, to face one of King’s young prospects on a card promoted by King himself in front of a worldwide audience on Showtime’s ShoBox: The Next Generation.
Not only did Lundy steal the spotlight, he won convincingly, beating Angelo Santana from start to finish in a decisive, 98-91, victory on all three judges’ scorecards.
As Lundy inches closer to his dream of challenging for, and winning, a world title, he can no longer be the relentless daredevil who long ago earned the reputation as one of boxing’s most prolific road warriors. There’s more at stake now than ever before, and Lundy is plotting his next move carefully, knowing full well his latest opportunity could be the biggest of his career.
Having proved himself time and time again in the face of adversity, it’s world title or bust in 2014, and “Hammerin’” Hank is on the brink of championship glory.
“If it’s not a world title, I’m not trying to hear it,” said Lundy, who entered last weekend’s fight ranked No. 13 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and 10th in the International Boxing Federation (IBF) at 140 pounds, where he fought his last two fights prior to Friday.
“Before, I took any and every fight, but now I’m trying to be smart. Right now, I want that world title. I’ve paid my dues. I need my shot.”
Though Lundy mentioned the possibility of a keep-busy fight on ESPN in April, it wouldn’t be a surprise if his next fight were for a coveted world championship, most likely back at 135 pounds, where he’s had the majority of his success since bursting onto the scene in 2010. And while he’d still like a shot at former 140-pound world-title holder Lucas Mattyhysse, a fight that fell apart in January due to Lundy’s legal issues with his former manager – “I’ll still beat him badly,” Lundy said – a more realistic option might be World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight champion Richar Abril, whom Lundy beat in 2010 before Abril won the title.
“We should do it again, this time for a world title,” Lundy said.
“At 135, it doesn’t matter who it is. If you’re a champ, whether it’s the WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO [World Boxing Organization], I want you. I’m in line. It’s my time.”
Having fought – and won – so many fights in his opponents’ backyards, including nationally-televised wins over Omri Lowther in Montreal and former world champ David Diaz in Chicago, Lundy has become one of the sport’s most avoided fighters in the lightweight division. His bout against Jeremy Bryan scheduled for mid-October fell apart last year when Bryan withdrew due to a back injury less than three weeks before the fight and another proposed showdown on HBO against Karim Mayfield – a bout Lundy claims was a “done deal” on his side – was mysteriously pulled from the table, prompting Lundy to question whether or not Mayfield had the courage to fight him.
“I’m a problem. There’s no answer for the ‘Hammer,’” Lundy said. “To get ready for the ‘Hammer,’ you’ve got to have five or six, maybe seven, guys just to prepare for a fight with me. I’m not one-dimensional, baby. I can do it all!”
For his next trick, Lundy might bring a championship belt back to Philadelphia, a city synonymous with boxing greatness dating all the way back to 1905 when Jack O’Brien defeated Bobby Fitzsimmons for the world light heavyweight championship. The tradition has continued through the years with all-time greats such as Tim Witherspoon, Joe Frazier and current world-title holder Bernard Hopkins, the ageless wonder still dominating the light heavyweight circuit at 49. If all goes well in 2014, Lundy could write his own chapter in the rich history of Philadelphia boxing.
“At the end of the day, I’m searching for a world title, and that should be my next fight,” Lundy said.
“I’ve fought everybody they put in front of me. Santana, he was 14-1 with 11 big knockouts, and he tried to do the same to me, but I had other plans. I showed the world again what ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ is all about. I knew I could outbox this guy and I went out there and dominated.
“I had so much going on in my career before, but now all my focus is on fighting, so that’s what you’re seeing – ‘Hammerin’ Hank fighting and getting the job done. You know me. It doesn’t matter who it is, or where I go. I put my bundle on my stick and I go out there and fight!”