Weekend Review: Sebastian Fundora seizes opportunity, Isaac Cruz serves notice

A critical look at the past week in boxing

Sebastian Fundora

Give Fundora full credit. Sure, he was fortunate when his elbow collided with Tim Tszyu’s head and caused a deep cut on the champion’s hairline in the third round, effectively blinding him from then on. That’s boxing, the fighters agreed afterward. Crazy things happen. Sometimes they become insurmountable obstacles, which was the case for Tszyu. Sometimes they’re opportunities, which you either seizer or squander. Fundora did the former. The 6-foot-5½ physical anomaly came in with a good game plan, which was to finally commit to using his height and reach advantages. And he simply stayed the course after the cut occurred, pumping his jab into Tszyu’s face and following with enough power shots to keep him at a safe distance and win rounds. As a result, Fundora won a split decision to take Tszyu’s WBO 154-pound belt and win the vacant WBC title. Some will look back on the victory and say Fundora (21-1-1, 13 KOs) was lucky, lucky to get the fight immediately after a knockout loss to Brian Mendoza, lucky to win it because of a freak accident. The fact is he was both lucky and good, which is a combination that’s difficult to beat. He did what he had to do in strange circumstances to realize a lifelong dream.


Isaac Cruz

No one is going to be in a hurry to face this little monster. Cruz used his typical nonstop pressure to batter WBA 140-pound titleholder Rolando Romero before finally stopping him in the eighth round to win his first major belt on the Fundora-Tszyu card. Romero had the right strategy. He tried to slow Cruz down by timing him with hard shots when he was coming in and using his feet to avoid dangerous exchanges. However, it was like trying to protect yourself from a tsunami with a cocktail umbrella. It was impossible. Romero didn’t have the power to give Cruz pause, not even once. That made the result inevitable. And it raised a legitimate question: Can anyone hurt “Pitbull,” whose chin would make Julio Cesar Chavez and Marvin Hagler proud. It took a great fighter in Gervonta Davis to beat this version of Cruz (26-2-1, 18 KOs). And “Tank” was barely able to have his hand raised. A victory over the limited Romero (15-2, 13 KOs) doesn’t prove that Cruz can beat or even compete on the same level as the 140-pound likes of Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez but an indestructible little punching machine isn’t the ideal opponent for anyone. That includes the best in the division.



I feel strongly that Fundora and his handlers should give Tszyu (24-1, 17 KOs) an immediate rematch. The champion gave the challenger an opportunity to fight for the title on short notice even though the adjustment from averaged-sized Keith Thurman to a giant would be difficult. And, obviously, Tszyu was the victim of terrible luck. The right thing to do is to give him a chance to avenge the defeat in the next fight for both men. … Tszyu will be back. I still feel he’s a better fighter than Fundora, as he seemed to show in the first few rounds. If he gets a rematch, I think he’ll win. If he doesn’t, he’ll continue to beat top contenders and become a champion again sooner rather than later. … I wouldn’t be too hard on Romero for his pre-fight trash talk. He was selling the fight and himself, which is what promoters hope to see. But, yes, he had to eat his words. He learned the hard way that Cruz was the opposite of an easy mark. …

Erislandy Lara (30-3-3, 18 KOs)  isn’t as good as he once was at 40 but he’s still better than almost anyone else, as he demonstrated against Michael Zerafa (31-5, 19 KOs) on the Fundora-Tszyu undercard. The 160-pound titleholder stopped his Australian opponent with a vicious left hand less than two full rounds into the fight, proving again that he has more to give even though he was returning from a 22-month layoff and has lost a step late in his career. One thing he still has working for him is his boxing acumen, which is as sharp as ever. And who knew he could become a knockout artist? He has stopped his last three opponents. We’ll see whether he will continue to have success against next-level opposition. I won’t be surprised if he does. … Julio Cesar Martinez (21-3, 15 KOs) was fortunate to get past pesky Angelino Cordova (18-1-1, 12 KOs) on the Fundora-Tszyu card. The WBC 112-pound champ never really figured out his awkward opponent, who peppered him with light punches and never stood still. However, the champ never lost focus and continued to bring the heat. That resulted in a majority decision victory in his seven title defense, including one no-contest. Martinez doesn’t have pound-for-pound talent but he is consistent. …

Serhii Bohachuk (24-1, 23 KOs) was taken the distance for the first time but still tuned in an excellent performance against Mendoza (22-4, 16 KOs) on the Fundora-Tszyu card, suffocating his veteran opponent with nonstop pressure and winning a one-sided decision. If you can hurt Bohahuck — as Brandon Adams did his his KO victory over the Ukrainian — you have a chance to beat him. If you can’t, it’s going to be difficult to get past him. He appears to be a threat to anyone at 154 pounds. … Floyd Mayweather protégé Curmel Moton (3-0, 2 KOs) might’ve been the most talented fighter on the Fundora-Tszyu card. The 17-year-old 130-pound prospect battered a pretty good opponent in Anthony Cuba (7-1-2, 3 KOs) to win a shutout decision in an eight-round fight. Moton is remarkably skillful and poised for his age. It seems possible to me that he could win a major title as a teenager, which is a rarity. … Gilberto Ramirez (46-1, 30 KOs) made history on Saturday in Inglewood, California, easily outpointing the naturally bigger Arsen Goulamirian (27-1, 19 KOs) to become the first Mexican to win a 200-pound title. Ramirez isn’t a great fighter but he’s an excellent, durable boxer who knows how to win fights, the only exception being his setback to the gifted Dmitry Bivol. Mexicans should be proud of their countryman. …

Oscar Valdez (32-2, 24 KOs) is back in business after stopping Liam Wilson (13-3, 7 KOs) in seven rounds to win the WBO “interim” 130-pound title Friday in Glendale, Arizona. He could be elevated to full champion if titleholder Emanuel Navarrete moves up in weight as planned. It remains to be seen whether Valdez can beat a top talent after losses to Shakur Stevenson and Navarrete.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie