With a triumphant return to the lightweight division this past weekend at Mohegan Sun, Hank Lundy made his point loud and clear.
“I’m back. ‘Hammerin” Hank is back at 135,” said Lundy, who stopped veteran Carlos Winston Velasquez in the fifth round of their scheduled 10-round bout Saturday. “I mean business. And when I get in that ring with you, don’t think it’s going to go the whole 10 or 12 rounds. I’m going to knock you out. I’m reclaiming my throne at 135.”
Forgive Lundy’s bravado, but Saturday was not only a victory in the ring, the 26th of his pro career and 13th by knockout, but also a victory in the court of public opinion, where Lundy took a beating in January after failing to make the 135-pound weight limit in a scheduled bout against Petr Petrov, a fight he accepted on just eight days’ notice.
With more than eight weeks to prepare for Velasquez, Lundy had no such trouble shedding the weight, clocking in at 134, though he thinks he might’ve been even lighter than what the scale indicated.
“The commissioner, he stopped at 134. I think I came in at 133,” Lundy quipped.
“Like I told everyone, if you give me the right amount of time, I can make 135.”
Credit this resurgence to Lundy’s steely determination and the guidance of fellow Philadelphia boxer, Bernard Hopkins, the longest reigning middleweight world champion of all-time and the oldest fighter to ever win a world title, who helped Lundy put the past behind him and instead focus on what he needed to do to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.
“I took it from Bernard and he actually talked to me about that situation. Everybody came down on me, but he said, ‘Hank, the key thing is staying ready so that you won’t have to get ready,'” Lundy said. “What I took out of that is preparing myself and keeping my weight down, staying 10 pounds away from my fight weight.”
While some fighters lose a bit of power when dropping to a smaller weight class, Lundy has actually maintained his strength, as evident by the two knockdowns scored in the Velasquez fight. The weight makes no difference, Lundy said, as long as you execute.
“It’s more about technique, the leverage from your punches and the whole thing about it, carrying the punching power you have to make sure you make weight correctly that way you won’t be drained or anything,” he said. “I’m still punching like I punched at 140.”
Lundy has bounced between both divisions over the past five years, chasing the bigger paydays and the national television spotlight at 140, but now his goal is to reclaim the No. 1 spot at 135, where he sat in 2012 before a stunning loss to journeyman Raymundo Beltran.
“I’m hungry,” Lundy said. “One thirty five, that’s where I started my quest and that’s what I’m looking forward to doing. I started my quest at 135 and I’m back there. I want to win the world titles. I want to unify them and the move up to 140. My mission is to clean up 135 and I’m going to do it.”
Who’s next? The sky’s the limit. Jorge Linares currently holds the WBC world title. Unbeaten Terry Flanagan owns the World Boxing Organization (WBO) crown. The International Boxing Federation (IBF) title is currently vacant. Lundy could lobby for a shot at a world title now or continue to fight his way to the top. Either scenario is feasible.
“Listen, I’m ready to go right now,” Lundy said. “If they call me right now, I’m ready. I don’t need no tune-up. Like I said, in my career I’ve been matched tough. There’s no hype about me, ‘Hammerin” Hank, where you really have to find out to see if I’m what they say I am. I am what I am. I’m hungry. I’m determined. I’m that bad-ass that people talk about who comes into your hometown and beats you.”
The journey back to No. 1 won’t be easy. Nothing has. Lundy has built his career taking the tough fights, the fights others didn’t want, traveling everywhere from Mississippi to Montreal to the Ukraine to answer the call. In 32 pro fights, he’s fought in front of his hometown fans in Philadelphia just six times, never truly afforded the luxury of padding his record in his own backyard like so many other fighters.
When Lundy refers to himself as a “throwback fighter,” it’s a valid comparison. There’s only one “Hammerin”’ Hank, which is bad news for fights fans and good news for the rest of the lightweight division. With Saturday’s win at Mohegan Sun, the 135-pound weight class has officially been put on notice. Philadelphia’s fighting pride is back.
“I was always matched up tough,” he said. “Nothing was ever easy. Most of these guys that you see now, they get a lot of soft touches, whereas a guy like me, I’m proven. When you talk about ‘Hammerin” Hank’ and you look at my career, there were no soft touches. That’s why when you ask me about the world title shot, or do I need a tune-up, no, because I’ve been fighting tough since I was in the pro game.”