Fundora stops Lubin to claim interim 154 belt in punishing fight of the year candidate
Harrison cruises past Garcia; Salgado, Perrella fight to draw; Mayer retains unified junior lightweight title in rout
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In an early candidate for fight of the year, Sebastian Fundora and Erickson Lubin exchanged vicious power shots and knockdowns in a grueling battle before Lubin’s trainer, Kevin Cunningham, stopped the fight after the ninth round on Saturday night at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
Fundora’s rousing victory netted him the vacant WBC interim 154-pound title and culminated a Premier Boxing Champions junior middleweight tripleheader on Showtime. It was a worthy main event, living up to all of the pre-fight expectations for an exciting fight.
Boy, did Fundora and Lubin deliver.
The 6-fot-6 “Towering Inferno” Fundora’s right uppercut was a major weapon throughout the fight. He landed it nearly at will, including a big one in the second round that dropped fellow southpaw Lubin in the final seconds. But Lubin showed the heart and will to continue in what quickly became an all-out slugfest.
Lubin bloodied Fundora’s nose in the third round and won three of the first four rounds on all three scorecards.
They traded back and forth round after round. The seventh round was particularly explosive — a round of the year candidate — as Fundora landed a cascade of clean punches but Lubin landed a fierce counter right hand that backed Fundora up. With about 30 seconds left in the round, Lubin unloaded a flurry of shots that knocked Fundora to a knee, the first time he had been knocked down as a professional.
“I got hit with a good punch and I didn’t feel like I needed to get hit again so I took a knee to get a little breather in and I recovered,” Fundora said. “I intentionally took a knee. I knew I had to take a knee because if I kept getting hit like that it wouldn’t be smart for me and I wouldn’t be able to recollect myself.”
Despite scoring the knockdown, Lubin had also taken a lot of blows and his face was swelling and becoming disfigured. He took more punishment in the ninth round and with his face looking lumpy and having an obviously damaged nose, Cunningham signaled to referee Russell Mora for the fight to stopped as Lubin walked to the corner following the round, ending his six-fight winning streak since he suffered a first-round knockout loss to world titlist Jermell Charlo in 2017.
Lubin led 85-84 on two scorecards and the third judge had it 85-85 at the time of the stoppage.
“I think this was probably my best performance ever,” Fundora said. “It was a back-and-forth fight. He really brought his hammer but I decided to bring my drill. The uppercut was landing like no other. The uppercut is my lucky punch. I’m here in Vegas, so I feel a little lucky, and that’s my lucky punch. It lands most of the time with everybody. Southpaw. Right hand. It doesn’t matter. Once I find that, I feel like the job’s done.
“I think it was a good decision for Kevin Cunningham to stop the fight. His face shifted from round one to round nine. It completely morphed and there was a lot of blood coming out. He’s a tough fighter. He was in the game the whole time but there’s no need to get hurt that much.”
According to CompuBox statistics, Fundora landed 255 of 706 punches (36 percent) and Lubin landed 149 of 368 (41 percent).
Lubin (24-2, 17 KOs), 26, of Orlando, Florida, was taken to UMC Trauma Center for evaluation following the fight.
With the interim title, Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs), 24, of Coachella, California, is in position to eventually challenge the winner of the four-belt unification fight for the undisputed title between three-belt titlist Charlo and Brian Castano, who meet in a rematch of their previous draw on May 14 in a Showtime main event.
“I see Charlo winning the fight against Castano,” Fundora said. “I feel like he’ll be too strong for Castano the second time. If Castano wins, that’s great too. I just want to go after all of them. This is the interim belt so I want the world champion title. I want the real deal.”
Harrison handily outpoints Garcia
Former world titlist Tony Harrison cruised to a one-sided decision against Sergio Garcia in a key fight for both men.
Harrison (29-3-1, 21 KOs), 31, of Detroit, won 100-90, 100-90 and 98-92 to rebound from a draw with Bryant Perrella in his previous fight and an 11th-round knockout loss to Jermell Charlo in their world title rematch.
Garcia (33-2, 14 KOs), 29, of Spain, dropped his second fight in a row, having lost a decision to Sebastian Fundora in a title eliminator in December.
“I pitched a shutout against a guy who just fought a guy that’s in the main event right now,” said Harrison. “Muscles are the way in the street, but skills pay the bills.”
Garcia tried to pressure Harrison and test his questionable chin but Harrison kept him at bay with solid jabs.
“All I needed to do was land one good punch, but I didn’t,” Garcia said. “Harrison fought his fight and was very smart with his jab and his elusiveness. Major credit to him.”
According to CompuBox, Harrison landed 197 of 491 punches (40 percent), including 88 of 173 (51 percent) of his power shots. Garcia landed 103 of 592 blows (17 percent). Harrison outlanded him in all 10 rounds.
“He was swinging for the fences,” Harrison said. “When he was missing shots, all I heard was ‘whoosh!’ I felt it. I was trying to throw a few more counter shots in between. My composure was everything.”
Salgado-Perrella ends in draw
In the opener, Kevin Salgado (14-0-1, 9 KOs), 24, of Mexico, and Bryant Perrella (17-3-2, 14 KOs), 32, of Fort Myers, Florida, fought to a split draw.
The judges agreed on only three of rounds with one judge scoring it 96-94 for Salgado, one 97-93 for the Roy Jones Jr.-trained Perrella and one 95-95.
It was a tactical fight that made for several rounds that were difficult to score with little separating the fighters.
Both men claimed victory.
“I thought my game plan and execution was great,” said Perrella, who also fought to split draw with Tony Harrison in his previous fight. ‘I boxed smart. I broke him down. I’m not going to run from him. He was just winging big shots any time I would step in just trying to knock me out with one punch. I kept the jab in his face. Jabs to the body. Left hands. I hurt him. Everything was going great and it looked like I was sweeping all the rounds.
“I was shocked by the decision. Two draws in a row. I put my all into this and I get robbed at the end of the day. It’s a tough pill to swallow. I easily outboxed him. He barely landed any punches. I don’t know what more I can do. I did my best.”
Said Salgado, who relied on a consistent body attack: “I felt like I won. All Perrella did was run around and away from me. Maybe if I had pressured a bit more that last judge would have leaned more in my favor. Perrella kept throwing his jab but almost never connected.”
Mayer easily retains title
Two days after Mikaela Mayer signed a multi-year contract extension with Top Rank, she easily retained her unified WBO/IBF women’s junior lightweight belts with a virtual shutout of former featherweight titlist Jennifer Han on Saturday night at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, California.
Headlining the Top Rank on ESPN card, Mayer rolled to the win 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 in her third title defense and her first as a unified belt holder.
Mayer (17-0, 5 KOs), 31, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from Los Angeles, who fights out of Colorado, Springs Colorado, had no issues with Han (18-5-1, 1 KO), 38, of El Paso, Texas, who lost a shutout decision in her previous fight challenging undisputed women’s lightweight champion Katie Taylor in September.
Mayer injured Han’s nose with a right hand, rammed her jab into her face repeatedly and outlanded her 192-63, according to CompuBox.
“I feel like I did a lot of good things in there,” Mayer said. “Her movement, I think, is what she does best and it throws you off. She gets her spacing in a little bit, so I had to throw her off and stay behind the jab. Coach Al (Mitchell) reminded me to stay behind the jab, set the right hand up. She would duck sometimes and make me miss. I started to go to the body. All in all, she’s a tough, durable girl. That’s why we chose her for this fight. We knew she would push me, but I feel like I did well.
“I wanted to get the stoppage. I feel like I hurt her in the eighth round, almost finished her. This is another reason why I’m advocating for three-minute rounds (instead of the standard two-minute rounds for women).”
Mayer would like to further unify the 130-pound division.
“I’ve been pretty clear that I want to go undisputed at 130. (Titleholders Alycia) Baumgardner and (Hyun Mi) Choi, I’ve been calling them out. I want (either) fight, but if they’re not going to give me that fight in a timely fashion, I’m game to go up and challenge the winner of (Amanda) Serrano versus Katie Taylor.”
Also on the card, the Australian Moloney twins, 31, scored victories.
Former junior bantamweight titlist Andrew Moloney (23-2, 15 KOs) stopped Gilberto Mendoza (19-12-3, 10 KOs), 32, of Modesto, California, with a left hook with 31 seconds left in the eighth round of their eight-rounder.
Bantamweight Jason Moloney (23-2, 18 KOs), a two-time title challenger, outpointed Francisco Javier Pedroza (17-11-2, 10 KOs), 27, of Mexico, winning 100-90, 99-91 and 99-91.
Among other undercard fights:
2020 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (5-0, 1 KO), 24, of Cincinnati, returned to the pro ranks for the first time since last summer’s delayed Tokyo Olympics and won a shutout 60-54 decision on all three scorecards against Diuhl Olguin (15-22-5, 10 KOs), 33, of Mexico.
Flyweight Virginia Fuchs (1-0, 1 KO), a 2020 U.S. Olympian and Mayer’s best friend, made her professional debut with a fourth-round knockout of Randee Lynn Morales (4-4, 2 KOs), 31, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fuchs, 34, of Houston, dropped Morales in the first round and stopped courtesy of an accumulation of punishment at 24 seconds of the final round.
Showtime card photos: Esther Lin/Showtime; Mayer-Han photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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