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Sebastian Fundora’s ultimate goal remains a showdown with Jermell Charlo at 154

Junior middleweight Sebastian Fundora. Photo by Dave Mandel/ Showtime
16
Jun

CANASTOTA, NY—Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora is rather imposing in person. He stands all of 6-feet, 6-inches, and somehow still manages to squeeze 154 pounds into that frame. The 24-year-old southpaw from Coachella, California, was taking in the Hall of Fame festivities last weekend, mingling with the all-time greats and was a magnet to fans.

Fundora (19-0-1, 13 knockouts) is ranked No. 2 by The Ring at junior middleweight, and his signature victory to date, his ninth-round stoppage over Erickson Lubin on April 9, is a 2022 Fight of the Year candidate. In that fight, Fundora got up from a seventh-round knockdown and dealt with adversity for the first time in his career, coming back two rounds later to stop Lubin.

He may be “The Towering Inferno” in the ring, but outside the ring, he is anything but; he’s “The Towering Teddybear.” His genial personality makes him a great, young ambassador for boxing, and that manifested itself in the hordes of fans lining up for pictures of him and autographs while he was surrounded by hall of famers. He was just as popular as they were—and he didn’t turn anyone away.

Fundora may be heading in the same direction to Canastota as Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Andre Ward, James Toney, and Roy Jones Jr. someday, if he continues the route he is going.

But like them, at certain stages of their careers, Fundora is facing a roadblock. He holds “the interim” WBC junior middleweight title, below junior middleweight world champion Jermell Charlo (Ring/IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO), forced to play boxing’s waiting game as Charlo fulfills his sanctioning body mandatories.

Fundora, rightfully, is unwilling to wait.

He lives what he defines as a boxing lifestyle. He’s constantly training. He’s always in shape. Running four or five miles in the desert behind his house is routine for him. A few days after he beat Lubin, Fundora was taking his turn after family dinner washing dishes.

He said he is willing to drop down to 147 to face Ring’s No. 1 welterweight, IBF/WBA/WBC titlist Errol Spence Jr. if the much-anticipated megafight with WBO belt-holder Terence Crawford falls through. Or, which possibly only Fundora can do, he can move up to 160.

Either way, Fundora wants and deserves a title shot.

“It is an idea, but only an idea if there is no one at 154 to fight us,” said Fundora, whose even demeanor explains why he’s never rattled. “I can move up to 160, too. There is talent at 160 that can bring a big draw to me. The ultimate goal right now is to fight Charlo or to become a champion at 154. I think I deserve it. I’m not going to yell and scream about it. I like to keep it humble. Whether my mom tells me it’s my turn to wash dishes to pick up dog poop in the backyard (he laughs), I still have to listen to my parents. My lifestyle benefits me. I think I can make 147 easily.

“Right now, it’s 105 degrees where I live. Right here in Canastota, it’s a cool 60, 70 degrees. It’s why I have a jacket on (he laughs). I would like to fight two more times by the end of the year. I don’t know what (promoter) Sampson (Lewkowicz) and PBC has planned for me. But it has to be for a title. It has to be.”

Freddy Fundora, Sebastian’s father and trainer, stressed that the money has to be right for Sebastian to fight Spence. Sebastian is already training.

“Being invited to the Hall of Fame is a sneak peek at the future and I would like to be here one day,” Sebastian said.

“Charlo is busy and will not fight Sebastian, so he told me he’s willing to go to 147,” Lewkowicz said. “He walks around at 160, 162, so making 147 would not be that hard for him. He will not fight anyone not recognized as a world champion. He’s earned that. He will not fight anyone else, other than Spence (at 147). He would fight Spence once, and then go back up to 154. I have many fighters, but Sebastian is the only one who works 24/7 and the only time he goes out is to go out to the desert to run.

“You see the reaction people have to Sebastian. He’s a great likable kid. That comes from his parents. After Sebastian beat Lubin, he went right back to his room, the next day he went home and was washing dishes after the family dinner. It’s who he is. He lives a strict boxing lifestyle, and he deserves to fight a world champion.”

After the Lubin victory and the fanfare he received in Canastota last weekend, fans want to see more of the Towering Inferno.

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.

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