Story by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Photos by Darryl Cobb, Jr. – dcobbjr.com –
Junior welterweight contender Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, 26-5-1, 13 KOs, has tons of talent, a hard head, and a boat-load of confidence., and he’s not afraid to spread the word on his own behalf with a lot of brash talk – before, during and after a fight. His hands are fast, but his mouth is probably faster.
Throughout his nearly ten-year professional boxing career, Lundy has always envisioned his eventual rise to world champion status as one of life’s certainties. He has had his ups and downs along the way, but has managed to stay focused on his goal, eagerly awaiting an opportunity back up all of his self-reliant swagger.
Prime opportunities have come his way before, although never one as big as Saturday night’s clash with WBO junior welterweight champion Terence “Bud” Crawford, 27-0, 19 KOs, at Madison Square Garden Theater. The championship fight will be televised live by HBO.
Although Crawford has been avoided by some of today’s top fighters, Lundy jumped at the chance to fight him. No surprise there. Hank is known as a guy who takes on all comers, especially if the fight presents an opportunity to prove something to the world. Lundy exudes confidence. He truly seems to believe that he cannot be beaten. Point to any of his five career setbacks, and Hank can debate away any notion of defeat in all of them. Fighters can be like that, but Hank is convinced that he holds every possible advantage over Crawford, a guy who most of the boxing world thinks will chew Lundy up and spit him out.
Thus far, Lundy has achieved quite a bit of success. He’s won regional title belts in two different weight classes, earned #1 ranking at lightweight, and a top five spot at junior welter. He’s faced solid competition and still boasts a good-looking record.
On Saturday, Lundy gets his chance to show the world. The question is whether he can back up his words with a life-changing performance. Some think Lundy is crazy for even thinking he can win, but this is the beauty of Hank Lundy. Confidence oozes from every pore and his date with Crawford is exactly the moment that he has been waiting for.
To Lundy, Saturday night’s bout isn’t the big-time East Coast debut for the Nebraska-bred champ, as Crawford’s promoter, Top Rank, has planned it to be. No. Lundy only sees the fight as “Hammer Time”, the moment when the world catches up with Hank’s opinion of exactly how good he is.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for,” Lundy said. “But, like I said, the excitement hasn’t really hit me. It’s really going to hit me when they announce me, “the new WBO champion of the world”. That’s when it’s really going to hit me, but not right now. I know it’s for the world title. Everything is up right now. My level is up. I’m ready to go, to show the world what Hammerin’ Hank can do.”
I spoke with Lundy at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, the place in South Philly where Lundy’s career began as an 18 year old amateur boxer.
Did this come out of nowhere for you?
“When his fight (date) was announced, I knew it was a possibility,” Lundy said. “We were going to get it. I was already training for a December fight that fell out. So, when this came up, we pulled back a little bit from training. I was down to 144 already. Tip top shape, getting ready to make 135. So, we ready!”
What do you think of Crawford as a fighter?
“Well at the end of the day, I’m not taking nothing away from him, he’s doing what he’s supposed to do when they put these guys in front of him,” Lundy said. “But when you fight Hammerin’ Hank, that’s a different mindset. You know, you fightin’ a guy that can do everything you can do. A guy that can fight southpaw; a guy that can fight right handed. A guy that’s got fast hands and a guy that’s got punching power in both hands. It’s a different type of fight. We ain’t in Omaha. We on the East Coast, baby, and I’m about to give him an East Coast butt-whipping.”
Still, you have to consider it your toughest fight, right?
“It’s like a regular fight to me,” Lundy said. “At the end of the day, I know this boy, he ain’t fought nobody of my caliber. You know, the only person really on his resume was Gamboa, and I feel as though if Gamboa wouldn’t have had a year off, he would have closed the show. Gamboa showed that he (Crawford) can be hurt and outboxed.”
Are you Crawford’s toughest opponent to date?
“Oh, most definitely,” Lundy said. “I’m his toughest opponent and they know that. They try to down play it like I’m not, but I really am. You look around the board, everybody he done fought, he tried to get somebody that I fought or somebody that kind of mimic me in a way, to prepare for me coming up to this fight. I seen right through it. I knew this fight was going to happen. That’s why I kept putting it out there, and you see it happened.”
Do you like being the underdog in this fight?
“I like the underdog (role),” Lundy said. “Ain’t no pressure on my back. Hammerin’ Hank going to come in and do what Hammerin’ Hank going to do. But it’s just going to be a little more in the smart department, being that it’s for a world title. You’re not going to see the average guy that you see go out there fightin’. There’s going to be a little more intensity, a little bit more pressure, a little bit more hungry.”
How do you feel about fighting at The Garden?
“Not many fighters get a chance to fight at a special place like that,” Lundy said. “That’s one of the biggest places besides the Blue Horizon to be a part of. It’s a dream come true, and I’m going to make it even more special when I go out there and win this world title.”
Have you fought anyone that reminds you of Crawford?
“I can clearly say Richar Abril (Lundy W10 in 2010),” Lundy said. “If you look at Richar Abril, I think Richar Abril is a better fighter than Crawford. A guy that’s rangy and can box. The only thing that Richar Abril don’t do is switch. So, hands down, I can say Richar Abril. You can say southpaw, Richard Lopez. He was a big puncher that I beat, defended my NABF title. There’s a lot of guys out there that compare to him. Most people say, “Who have I fought?”. If you look at my resume, I have the better resume. You know, he ain’t fought nobody.”
Why did it take so long for this title shot to come?
“If I have had a big time promoter Hammerin’ Hank would have won, had his hand raised high,” Lundy said. “At the end of the day, the world seen it. HBO seen it. That’s why I’m back on. None of these guys have beat me. Nobody has kicked Hammerin’ Hank’s butt. This fight, the 27th at the Garden, it ain’t going to be no different. Nobody’s going to kick my butt, and I’m going to go out there and make a statement – in fashion.”
Do you see this as your chance to finally prove yourself to everyone?
“Most definitely,” Lundy said. “A lot of these champs, or so called champs, are champs because of their promoter. At the end of the day, I came up the hard way. I’ll put it like this, if any of these fighters took the road I took, they wouldn’t be champ today. They wouldn’t face the adversity that I have been through in my career. Most of these guys who are A-Side fighters, haven’t had to go to Russia to fight somebody in their back yard. I fought a guy, Viktor Postal. I beat him, but they gave him the decision. And ya’ll can look at that on YouTube. This was another top-ranked guy that I took to school. A long, rangy guy, I took to school. So, you know, these guys don’t have what I have. If I had been with a big time promoter, Hammerin’ Hank would have been champion years ago, and the world knows that. But I don’t downplay my career. I love the way my career went. Because fights like this, when I get my world title, there ain’t going to be no nay-say, or people critiquing me. Everything I fought for, I got and I earned. It’s going to be a lot sweeter. Ain’t nobody going to say nothing. They will sit there and I’ll point to them like Muhammad Ali did when he knocked out Sonny Liston (laughs). What he do? He started pointing and he tell everybody ‘I told you so’, and that’s what I’m gonna do. It’s going to be bittersweet.”
How will it feel to become another champion from Philly?
“That’s going to feel good,” Lundy said. “Coming from the City of Philadelphia, especially in South Philly. You know, I’m South Philly owned, and it’s going to feel real good to bring a world title back to South Philly. Not just Philadelphia, but South Philly. That’s going to be a good feeling and even make life different for my family. I’m already doing it now, but you know, this would be a bigger life change.”
Does it bother you that most people think you don’t have a chance against Crawford?
“At the end of the day, I’m not worrying about that because, at the end of the day, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to go make a statement, and that’s win,” Lundy said. “So losing is not on my mind. That’s not in my vocabulary. Every fight, I go out there and fight. Losing is not on my mind. That’s not in my vocabulary. If losing was in a state of mind with me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. A lot of people counted me out. They said I couldn’t do this. I started at the age of 18. Turned pro at 23. And now you see a young, African American that started late in this game, on TV, HBO, and living a dream. It’s how bad you want things in life. I’ve never settled for less. Just being on ESPN. I always wanted to be better, and be great. And I felt I could do it. So, come on the 27th of February, I’m setting up to be world champion, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Do you believe you can knock out Crawford?
“Oh, I know I can knock him out,” Lundy said. “If you seen what little Gamboa did, and I think I’m punching way harder than Gamboa. I’m much bigger than Gamboa. There’s a lot of things that you’re going to see Crawford get exploited on that Gamboa was doing, but couldn’t finish and do. You know, I got more hunger. This is what I’ve been fighting for, a world title. And now that I got my shot, I’m not going to let it go. I can tell you, this fight on the 27th, Crawford is going to be taken to war.”