Talking trash, sticking his tongue at his foe, throwing behind the back punches. Hank Lundy entered the ring in the main event of ESPNs Friday Night Fights at the Twin River Event Center in Lincoln, Rhode Island filled to the brim with certainty that he was the man. He showboated, and showed up John Molina round after round. But Molina didnt get caught up in the drama, or sophomoric displays. Instead, he stayed on message, stayed dialed in, looking for a place to land his power right. That opening came in the eighth, and resulted in a knockdown. He didnt let Lundy off the hook, and hope for a points win. Molina rendered the judges irrelevant, and hopefully for the pro prospects for the talented but mentally conflicted Lundy, inflicted a painful lesson in humility with a smackdown TKO finish in the 11th.
Lundy (age 26; from Philly; 18-0 coming in) was 135 pounds, while Molina (age 27; from CA; 20-1 entering), the NABO lightweight champion, weighed 135 as well. After, Molina said that his trainer Joe Goossen told him that the showboating indicated fear in Lundy. Teddy Atlas pointed out that Molina gave Goossen ulcers with his lack of luck early on. I showed the heart of a champion, he said. Lundy called Molina a dumb fighter pre bout. He just might wish he had that soundbite back. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back from this setback. Will he learn from his mistakes, dial back on the cockiness, let his fists talk for him? Im guessing yes…Im actually hoping yes, because his promoter is Jimmy Burchfield, an old school pro who deserves a stacked roster with solid pugilists.
In the first, Lundy kicked things off with a crisp jab. Molina looked to counter, but he looked a bit put off by Lundys hand speed. The lefty can be prone to wildness, overexcitement, but me, I like that sometimes. He shows fire, and fury, something that is too often missing in todays fighters.
In the second, the more seasoned Lundy, with 70 amateur fights versus 22 for Molina, looked to be on top of his game, confident that he had matters in hand.
In the third, Lundy had his left low, but he didnt fret. He was comfortable that he could slip Molina in time to prevent absorbing any harsh blows. Could Molina switch the tone, the pace? Or would Lundy keep doing his thing enroute to a UD? Indeed, Molina had some luck in the fifth. He came forward, looking to be first, a smart switchup. There was fierce trading to finish the fifth. Molina, his face marked up pretty good, was getting closer to solving the riddle of Lundy.
Molina scored a knockdown, off a right, at 1:15 of the eighth. Lundy was cocky, posing, and got caught in between, coming off a weak left hook. Lundy ran, to clear his head, and it looked like his legs were firm. The movement served him well in the ninth. But could he stay energized to the close? Not enough to keep the movement up; Lundy was on the ropes, hands high, in defensive mode, to end the ninth. Teddy Atlas called for Molina, round after round, to go to the body. The fighter didnt really listen. He ate more clean shots in the tenth, and Molina had some left in the tank. Lundy put his right arm up on the ropes, as he punched with his left, a foolish, showy move in the 11th. Lundy threw a behind the back right hand to Molinas gut. Sweet, if you appreciate suck trick shots…but the judges dont give extra points for inventiveness. Soon after, a barrage on the ropes, clean shots, forced the ref Ricky Gonzalez to step in and save Lundy. The TKO end, which might have come too soon for some, came at 2:17.
SPEEDBAG Teddy Atlas said that Vitali Klitschko (40-2) might be gloving up with Brooklyns Shannon Briggs for his next fight. Briggs, age 38, has been busy on the comeback trail; hes won four straight since re-entering the fight game in December, following a two and half year hiatus. The first win, a KO1 over Marcus McGee, was changed to a NC after Briggs (51-5) flunked a urine test. Klitschko, also 38, is coming off a May KO10 win over Al Sosnowski.
—Zab Judah headlines FNF next week. He takes on Jose Armando Santa Cruz. The show, unfolding in Newark, New Jersey, starts at 9PM Eastern.
–Vinny Paz was in da house. Joe Tess and Teddy gave him props for staying involved in the local fight scene, encouraging the up n comers. Quite right.