Story & Photos by John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Philadelphia’s wild and unpredictable Hammerin’ Hank Lundy (22-3-1, 11 KOs) returns to the ring and ESPN2 Friday Night Fights this week when he takes on Ajose Olusegun (31-1, 14 KOs) in an important junior welterweight bout at Rockingham Park, in Salem, NH. After back-to-back losses, a win over the regarded contender Olusegun would place Lundy in line to face the top talent in the 140-pound division. Lundy has been on the threshold before.
His first rise was in the lightweight division. He zipped through his first 19 bouts (18-0-1) and was way ahead in bout #20 against John Molina before a careless moment let Molina back in the fight, and set up Lundy’s first head-shaking loss. The 11th round TKO by Molina did much to hang the “reckless” reputation on Lundy. However, lost in the defeat was the skill Hank showed through most of the bout. He had no business walking into the punch that dropped him, but it was exciting stuff. Lundy got up but was stopped a few rounds later.
Lundy rebuilt and once again rose in the 135-pound rankings. He took the NABF title and posted exciting, impressive wins over Patrick Lopez, David Diaz and Dannie Williams. The streak placed Lundy at the #1 spot in the WBC rankings. However, after 10 rounds against Raymundo Beltran, Hank had another loss on his record and saw his top ranking slip several notches.
Earlier this year, Lundy traveled to the backyard of Ukrainian Viktor Postal, and dropped another 10-round decision.
“Most people who know boxing, know I won those fights,” Lundy said. “Definitely the fight overseas. I wanted a rematch back over here, but the guy wouldn’t even entertain the thought of fighting (again). I got congratulated by the WBC for going over there and taking the fight. I beat the guy.”
Lundy makes similar assessment when he discusses the loss to Beltran.
“With the Ray Beltran fight, I feel as though I won that fight too,” Lundy said. “But I didn’t get the fair shake. There are a lot of guys out there like me that don’t have a big-time promoter, but made it into the Top 10 with hard work and dedication.”
For the Postal fight, Lundy rose to the junior welterweight division, and has stayed with the 140-pound weight class.
“You know, I started off my career at 140, but as soon as I got around 15-0, I dropped down to 135,” Lundy said. “As I was growing and trying to make that weight, it was becoming hard because I’m a muscular guy. When I was going down to 135, it was killing my body and taking some of my punching power away. Going up to ’40, I actually have a lot of punching power because I’m natural. At 140, I’m actually a bigger guy,” Lundy commented, who grew up often being the smallest guy in the room, said with a laugh.
“I feel powerful now,” Lundy said. “The world is definitely going to see that Hammerin’ Hank has punching power too.”
Thus far, Lundy has relied on his power and his big heart to battle back when things get tough for him in the ring. He’s a natural fighter, with a killer instinct. A big win against Olusegun would do wonders to again raise his stock.
“He’s a straight come forward guy,” Lundy said. “He throws looping punches, but that shouldn’t be a problem for me. He’s there to be hit, and I’m ready to do what I gotta do. So what I’m going to keep on doing is go in there, fight my heart out, and keep on putting on a show.”
Lundy is a showman, and is one of Philly’s go-to guys for a good fight. But he needs a win on Friday.
“First and foremost, a big win, not just a knockout,” Lundy said. “If you think about it, this guy is #2 in the WBC. Once I beat him, that brings up a fight with me and Matthysse. Everybody runs from that guy. Not me.”
Lundy briefly had a date to fight the respected Argentine early this year, but a managerial dispute derailed the fight. Lundy’s management and promotional turmoil has threatened other bouts as well. In fact of late, there is always prefight speculation about whether a Lundy fight will come off. However, Lundy doesn’t even seem to take notice of any of the unrest as it swirls around him.
“I was actually looking forward to fighting him on Showtime,” Lundy said of Matthysse and the ill-fated bout. “After this (Olusegun), I’m looking forward to fighting Matthysse. Everybody running from him. I’m not running. I want Matthysse.”
If Lundy gets over this next hurdle and again enters the upper ratings in the junior welterweight division, an all-Philly match with world champion Danny Garcia becomes an obvious match. However, the two local 140-pounders are friends and might need to be talked into fighting each other.
“Me and Danny are good friends,” Lundy said. “He’s the champion, but if the fight happens, it happens. You know Sugar Shane and De La Hoya were the best of friends.”
“I always told Danny, even when we were in the amateurs representing Philly and training together,” Lundy said. “I said, ‘You know, one day, me and you might meet in the ring’. But until then, we going to keep on supporting each other. You know, holding each other down, fully all the way. But when that day comes, we going to put on a hell of a show for the world. Then after that, we will still be friends.”
In preparation for Olusegun, Lundy changed gyms. He feels the change of setting helps him reboot, and get back in touch with the original drive of his early boxing career.
Lundy’s new office is the Fast Land Boxing Gym, in West Philly. The place is a sweaty little second story hellhole with all the basic equipment you find in a boxing gym. There are inspirational messages in graffiti all over the walls. Much of it is held together with duct tape, and there are weak spots in the floor as you walk around, stepping over weights, gloves, and other pieces of equipment. But this is the type of boxing gym that produces hungry fighters. It’s a great place, filled with mostly young amateurs. However, everyone is working hard, and you can feel the intensity.
“I’m going to tell you something,” Lundy said. “You could be in the top facility and it has no hunger in the gym. This gym is definitely bringing the hunger back, making me dig down deep. If I need to go for broke in this fight, you will definitely see that Philly pit bull come out. I’m in the gym with a bunch of young guys that’s coming up. Hungry fighters that are actually trying to make it out. You give them hope of making it out of the hood. I made it out, but I’m not quite out the hood yet.”
Lundy may need to dig down deep against Olusegun. He’s needed to in so many of his other fights. He’ll be fighting for his future on Friday, and he’ll be doing his best to set an example for those young kids at the Fast Lane Boxing Gym.
“The kids look forward to seeing guys like us on tv,” Lundy said. “A lot of people love me because at the end of the day, I’m a real person, and I relate to everything.”
To read more about the Philly fight scene, please visit www.phillyboxinghistory.com.