Sebastian Fundora may have a few surprises for Tim Tszyu

Sebastian Fundora may have a few surprises for Tim Tszyu


by Joseph Santoliquito | 

LAS VEGAS — Sebastian Fundora grins at the interesting twist of fate his career arc has recently taken him. Who knows where the 26-year-old junior middleweight would be if he did not let his hands down for a split-second last April against Brian Mendoza? Who knows if he would be sitting in an MGM Grand conference ballroom on Thursday answering questioning about fighting for two major titles—the WBO belt currently around Tim Tszyu’s waist, and the vacant WBC belt?

The Premier Boxing Champions’ inaugural Amazon Prime event on Saturday (8pm ET/5pm PT) will be headlined by the WBO/vacant WBC 154-pound title unification bout between reigning WBO titlist Tszyu (20-1-1, 13 knockouts) and “The Towering Inferno” Fundora (20-1-1, 13 KOs) from the T-Mobile Arena as part of four featured title fights.

Up until Mendoza hit Fundora with a left hook on the jaw, The Towering Inferno had been dominating the fight last April, way ahead on the scorecards, 60-54 (twice) and 59-55.

For a split-second, he let his guard down and got caught.

It took him a split-second to take the Tszyu fight on Sunday, March 17, after Keith Thurman suffered a biceps injury that forced him out and Fundora into the opportunity of a lifetime.

Fundora is very hard on himself. It is why he is a world-class fighter and why for months he kicked himself over that second in time.

Freddy Fundora Sebastian’s father and trainer knew what to do.

“What fight? Again, what fight? This is not going to be a fight, because my son does not talk like that, but this is not going to be a fight, this is going to be an annihilation,” Freddy said. “A total annihilation. I have never seen Sebastian this sharp before. He is hitting harder than he has ever hit before. His IQ is always high, his movement is different. He knows he can make his life so much easier if he uses his reach.

“People may see him as this Frankenstein, his feet flat; that he cannot box. A lot of people think he cannot box. He can box. Right after the Mendoza loss, we went back and looked at old tapes of his fights when was 12, 13, 14 years old. He won all kinds of tournaments. He won easy, being long. He was looking at it right after the Mendoza fight. He saw he used to box, he used to box a lot. We went back and he realized that. Sebastian is very hard on himself. He is very disciplined.”

The Towering Inferno is a 6-feet-5½ southpaw with an 80-inch reach. He will hold a nine-inch height advantage over the 5-foot-9 Tszyu, the largest height discrepancy in a non-heavyweight title fight in the history of boxing.

Tszyu appeared relaxed and ready. On Thursday, he also seemed to be drawn more into Errol Spence Jr. saying on social media he was coming to Las Vegas to see the fight and take on the winner. There was hovering talk about Terence Crawford next.

Tszyu spoke about what it was like chasing titles. Now, the fighters he was chasing are now chasing him. But there may not be anything to chase if he loses to Fundora, whose dietary choices appeared to gain more of Tszyu’s attention than facing someone with considerable power, possesses a telephone-poll like reach and who is looking to erase the only loss of his career with a stunning victory over the son of Hall of Famer Kostya Tszyu, or “the father of Tim Tszyu.”

“I live and breathe this sport,” Tim Tszyu said. “I remember once with an interview about (soccer star) Cristiano Ronaldo, and I implemented the same type of living like him. I live by that code of the disciplined lifestyle. Fundora yesterday was having pizza; he was having burgers. I’m in shock. I’m actually in shock as a professional athlete that two days out from a fight he’s eating s—t like that. It baffles me.”

When it was broached that Crawford and Spence were lining up to face Tszyu, and Fundora was not even broached, he laughed it off, like he laughed off Tszyu’s dietary advise.

“Those things I really don’t pay attention to,” he said. “Tim Tszyu is fighting me this weekend. We will see what happens after. I would love to fight an Errol Spence, a Terence Crawford. Honestly, I don’t think anything I do should bother (Tszyu in reference to what he eats). It is not affecting him in anyway.

“Eating burgers, pizza, yes, I can do it. Besides the fight, this is vacation time for me. Why can’t I enjoy it? I’m not allowed to enjoy myself? This is a week about me. Let me enjoy myself.”

Sebastian said his mental coach is his father. He said he has been relaxed “about everything.” His lifestyle is boxing, and as soon as he began boxing, winning a world title has always been a goal.

He says he does not pay much attention to social media. He sounded supremely confident. Sebastian also said he feels Tszyu is taking the fight seriously. He admitted he likes Tszyu, and stated that Tszyu’s whole team are “gentlemen.” Glen Jennings, Tszyu’s manager, even spoke to Fundora on Wednesday at lunch, when Jennings asked him how he could be eating cheeseburgers and fries and a Powerade to balance it out.

“I have never missed weight, I am professional, that’s a poor choice of words,” Fundora said. “I enjoy fighting on the inside. I like making fans excited with my fights. It is probably not the smartest thing to do, but that is just something in me.”

Fundora just paid off a home with 20-acres around it, and plans on getting a donkey later, to go with his eight dogs, and his trucks. He owns no fast cars. He lives in a mountain region. And right now, Fundora seems relaxed and in control, having fun and looking squarely down at Tim Tszyu. If Tszyu is looking by Fundora to get to Crawford or Spence, it will be a mistake.

A split-second can change a lot.

Sebastian Fundora already knows.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.Follow @JSantoliquito


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