The 6-foot-6 super welterweight faces Donnie Marshall this Saturday on PBC on FOX. His goal? Do what he does best: Stand out.
Sebastian Fundora recently ran into Tyson Fury in Big Bear, California, where both have trained for their fights and realized he could look him in the eyes without cocking his head much. Fury is 6-feet-9, Fundora 6-feet-6½.
What’s unusual about that beside the fact that both are tall? Fury is a heavyweight. Fundora fights at 154 pounds.
As if that weren’t striking enough, the impossibly thin prospect, who is around the same height as heavyweights Deontay Wilder, Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua, insists he could easily fight at 147 pounds if he wanted to. To put that into perspective, Thomas Hearns was considered a tall welterweight at 6-foot-1 in his day and Fundora, nicknamed “The Towering Inferno,” would tower over the Hall of Famer.
And, finally, to make life even more surreal for his opponents, the 21-year-old is left-handed.
“God made me this height. Some people are redheaded, some people are 6-foot-6,” said Fundora, who faces Donnie Marshall in an eight-round super welterweight fight Saturday, February 16, at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Premier Boxing Champions card is headlined by Leo Santa Cruz vs. Raphael Rivera on Fox and Fox Deportes (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
God—and many years of hard work—also made Fundora (11-0, 7 KOs) a good fighter despite his unusual dimensions.
Freddy Fundora, Sebastian’s Cuban-born father and trainer, had only a brief boxing career but maintained his love of the sport and passed it on to his children. Four of the six – Alberto, Sebastian, Freddy Jr. and amateur star Gabriela (who Sebastian says is the best of the bunch) – became fighters.
Sebastian wasn’t particularly tall compared to other kids when he started training at 8-years-old. He shot up at the age of 14 or 15, when he was well into his amateur boxing career and training daily at the Coachella Valley Boxing Club, about 130 miles from Los Angeles.
He has been asked the obvious question – “have you ever considered basketball?” – many times given his stature. His pat answer is a firm “no.” His thing has been, is and always will be, boxing.
That commitment is beginning to pay off professionally, although he had to do some convincing when it came to his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz.
Freddy Fundora contacted the former handler of middleweight champ Sergio Martinez in hopes that he would guide young Sebastian, who was four fights into his career then. Lewkowicz took one look at the prospect and made a snap decision.
“I said, ‘I will not work with you,’” Lewkowicz said, “‘Your son looks very fragile. He’s too tall, too skinny. I don’t want to be involved in something that could become a tragedy.’ (Freddy) told me, ‘OK. I’ll have him fight an undefeated guy (Victor Toney in 2017). Will you have a look at him?’ Sebastian won that fight by decision. Then I took him to South America, where I gave him two more tough fights. He won both by decision. The rest is history.
“ God made me this height. Some people are redheaded, some people are 6-foot-6. ” Undefeated Super Welterweight - Sebastian Fundora
“After three fights, I signed him. He’s a good boxer, a good puncher, and he has a good chin. I believe he’s the whole package.”
Indeed, Fundora is a more versatile fighter than one might expect for someone of his height. He’ll use his stature and reach to his advantage at times, poking away at his foes from a distance, but he’s also comfortable exchanging punches in the pocket if he must. As he put it, “I have to be prepared for any style.”
His opponents learn two things about him quickly: He’s more durable than they imagined and, with leverage on his whipping punches, he has the power to hurt them. He has knocked out his last three opponents.
“If a guy runs and I have to chase him down, it’s easier to use long punches,” Fundora said. “I’m always down for a good tussle, too. I train hard for that. A lot of guys underestimate me because of my frame, how skinny I am. They come inside and hit my ribs, my midsection. They think that’s how they’ll break me down, how they’ll beat me. And then ‘The Towering Inferno’ burns them. When they feel the touch of my gloves, it’s different after that.”
Lewkowicz believes Fundora will be ready for a world title as soon as next year if things continue to go well. The question is, at what weight?
Freddy Fundora believes his son could top out as heavy as 175 pounds as his body matures. For now, Sebastian walks around at around 157 pounds. He eats like a heavyweight, the elder Fundora said, but doesn’t gain weight. That allows him to focus on fight strategy, not weight loss, during his training camps. He weighed only 151½ for his last fight, a first-round knockout of Jeremiah Wiggins in November.
“He walks around and fights at roughly the same weight,” Freddy Fundora said. “That’s his metabolism right now. But remember, he’s only 21. He’ll gain weight as he matures.”
Sebastian’s immediate focus is on Marshall (10-0, 6 KOs), a 30-year-old who has never fought outside his native North Carolina.
Fundora is thrilled to be fighting on a televised card headlined by the three-division titleholder Santa Cruz, who he described as “local hero in Los Angeles.” And it will be his first bout near home since his pro debut in September 2016, when he stopped Jose Cardenas in El Monte.
“It’s like a homecoming for me,” he said. “I’m not from L.A. but it’s the area where I live. I’m pretty excited. I’ll have a lot of friends and family there. I want to win and I want to put on a good show, to take another step in my career.
“I feel like (a world title shot) is right here for us, meant for us. It’s a dream but it feels closer and closer every day.”
For a closer look at Santa Cruz vs Rivera, check out our fight page.
- Santa Cruz vs Rivera