Sebastian Fundora has a two-inch height and reach advantage on Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight titles. Fundora, who is 24, holds the interim WBC super welterweight title.
He’s been the biggest matchup problem in boxing for years now. On Saturday, when he meets Carlos Ocampo at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, in the main event of a card broadcast on Showtime, Fundora will have a six-and-a-half-inch height advantage and seven inches in reach.
But these days, he’s not the only member of the Fundora family creating nightmares for opposing boxers and trainers. Fundora’s 20-year-old sister, Gabriela, is also fighting on Saturday’s card in Carson.
She’s 5-9 and will have an eight-inch height advantage over Naomi Arellano Reyes, who is 5-1. But the bout is being held at flyweight, where a giant like Gabriela is rarely seen. Claressa Shields, the pound-for-pound best woman in the world is 5-8, but will fight at middleweight on Oct. 15.
There are plenty of advantages to having such a height and reach advantage, but squeezing a body that large into these weights isn’t always easy.
“It’s just hard work,” Gabriela said of making the weight. "We train to make the fight look easy. We try to stay graceful and use our range. And just our boxing, make it look like a dance. So that’s it.”
Nobody has ever accused Sebastian of dancing in the ring. His fight with Erickson Lubin on April 9 in Las Vegas is the front-runner for Fight of the Year and was a brutal, vicious battle that Fundora won by stoppage after nine hard rounds.
The strategy against fighters with long arms like the Fundoras is to crowd them and take away their punching room, but Sebastian and Gabriela have seen that so many times and have been able to adjust.
They’ve spent time perfecting their inside game with their father, Freddy Fundora Sr. They know what to expect when they step into the ring. But it’s also a natural talent for the sport that they have that not everyone does.
“I had to work on it, of course,” Sebastian said. “But it was easy to work on it because that’s how the fighters would want to fight me. They would come in close. And instead of getting away from it, why not invite it and learn how to fight that way?”
The Fundoras are competitive in the ring as well as with each other in pretty much every aspect of their lives. They’re close as can be, but when it comes to singing or doing karaoke, the competition is cutthroat.
In the ring, though, Sebastian is Gabriela’s biggest fan and vice versa. But despite the sometimes brutal nature of boxing, neither gets too nervous when the other is fighting.
They know how hard their sibling has worked and they trust in his/her talent.
Even when Sebastian was finding the going tough during his compelling victory over Lubin, Gabriela remained calm and confident.
“I already knew [he’d be OK because] I train with him,” Gabriela said. “So I know what he has and what he’s capable of. So it was good while it lasted. But you know, he’s strong for what he is. So I already was confident. I had a confidence that he was going to do his thing and become victorious at the end of the night. And he was.”
Sebastian Fundora agreed to take on Ocampo, who is 34-1, as sort of a stay-busy fight. He’s focused on big things and would like a bout with undisputed super welterweight champion Jermell Charlo.
In boxing, those kinds of fights rarely come together quickly, so Fundora agreed to face Ocampo while hoping to land the big one.
“Just like my sister, I want to stay busy, as well,” Sebastian said. “We need these hard fights to continue to grow. Just like the last couple fights, they’ve all been tough fights. So another ranked fighter added to my record is, I think, is great for me. Just keep the same formula, and we'll continue to grow.”
The word he might have chosen was develop, because both Sebastian and Gabriela remain developing talents who have limitless potential. But continuing to grow? Well, if they grow much more height-wise, someone may try to put a rule in to force them to move up a division or four.